Recently I seem to be seeing a lot of discussion about jealousy of other writers and how to overcome it. When someone we know – be it in person or via social media – publishes their work I think it’s natural for us to think ‘I wish that was me’. The key thing, I think, to remember when we feel that twinge of envy is that the reason we are experiencing such an emotion because we still want to acheive that goal. The trick is to find a way to use jealousy to fuel that ambition, rather than waste it by focusing on the success of the other writer.
There have been numerous articles/posts written on how to deal with jealous feelings toward other writers. My favourite, due to the practical and down-to-earth tips, is on the Writer’s Relief blog. There are lots of sensible suggestions as to how to confront the reasons for your jealousy and how to combat it.
I used to find myself in a position of envy on a frequent basis. This was before I was a regular writer and only dabbled in my desire to write narrative fiction. As a result, when a debut novelist got rave reviews, or someone I vaguely knew got published, I thought ‘Why can’t that be me?’; ‘Aren’t I good enough?’; ‘Why do they deserve that and I don’t?’
And you know what? It couldn’t have been me, I wasn’t ready; I hadn’t worked hard enough and I didn’t deserve it. It still can’t be me; I haven’t finished my WIP yet, I haven’t yet put enough work in to make that novel my absolute best and, when it comes down to it, those who have succeeded in publishing – either traditionally or digitally – do deserve it. Just because their book gets placed on the bookshelf that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another. The thing to focus on is that new books are still being put out there and there is an appetite from readers for more literature.
I’m less envious these days. Not only do I know how hard some people have worked for their success, I can also relate to their efforts because I am working harder myself. Writing a novel, redrafting and revising and then going through the publishing process is immensely challenging. The law of averages suggest that it is much easier to just give up. If I don’t give in to the temptation to put aside my dream then why should I envy those who also refuse to be beaten? I should be celebrating their efforts because it proves to me that it can be done.
Not only that, but those questions I used to ask – about why it couldn’t be me – have quietened down. Because, one day, it will be me. If I put in the work, do my research and improve my craft, I’ll get there; just like they did. We might not take the same path, but we’ll end up side by side on the bookshelf before long. And not only can I use the experiences of others to learn but I can practice my skills by supporting them and promoting their success – just like I’m sure they will do for me when my time comes.
So yes, jealousy will happen. It’s a natural response. The key is turning it inward and not projecting it onto the writer who has the success you covet. The emotion says more about you that it will ever say about the writer you are jealous of. It can highlight that you aren’t working as hard as you can, that you aren’t ready or that you have higher expectations than you can meet at the time. Just remember that we all come to things by different routes and that, no matter how similar your journey appears to another writer, there are differences that you can’t see.
Do you ever experience jealousy? How do you tackle it? Does it put you off your stride, make you despondent, or fuel you to try harder?
Let me know in comment or Tweet Me.