To me, a driven person is always pushing themselves as hard as they can to do the best they can. To write the best book they are capable of writing and sell as many copies of that book as possible. Whereas a competitive person is all about winning. It's not about just doing the best they can--it's about beating other people.
And I know some people would say I'm splitting hairs there--but I don't think I am. Because in my mind a driven person celebrates when they reach number one because they worked so hard and got as far as they possibly could. A competitive person, on the other hand, celebrates because they're just a little bit better than everyone else. Do you see the difference?
It comes down to the attitude.
Drive is about working hard and being motivated. Competition is about stomping others into the ground. And while there are certain situations where competition is beneficial--sports, for instance--I just don't think it has any place in the literary world.
I'm more inclined to agree with Shannon Hale, who has championed the fact that all of us--especially children's writers--are on the same side: the side of books and reading and keeping the publishing industry alive.
I've blogged about this before (and was probably more articulate--my brain seems to be getting mushier by the day), but I wanted to say it again, because this is something I'm SO proud of the children's publishing industry for. The kindness, support, and generosity is astounding. Writers don't try to push each other down to top the bestseller list. They champion each other, cheering their friends and their books along.
Sure, it's not perfect--but on the whole I find a warm, caring, encouraging group of writers who work together to spread the word about books and reading. And I applaud that. It's what makes the literary world such an awesome place, and motivates me to work as hard as I can to be a part of it.
I'm a very driven person. But please guys--if I EVER become competitive--slap some sense into me a.s.a.p, okay? Promise?
Sign up to Smack-Shannon-as-hard-as-I-can-if-she-becomes-a-competitive-jerk in the comments. :)