How to deal with writer envy

writer-envy

Envy
noun
1. a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck

There’s no denying we all feel envy at one time or another. And in the writing game, sometimes more than we’d like.

It begins with something relatively small, and then builds, slowly.

Like when other writers seem like they have a suitcase full of story ideas and you can’t even think of one.

Or, seeing other writers who have come onto the scene later than you, scoring agents and publishing deals.

Watching other writer’s social media profiles steadily build, while your still stuck on 499 Twitter followers.

Or when you pick up a newly published book from a brand new author, read the first page and wonder to yourself how ‘this!’ was published!

Writer envy isn’t pretty. And it can manifest deep within, growing like a tumour until it turns you into a bitter, twisted, wanna-be author.

But envy is natural. We feel it because we want something so badly. It’s not that we resent the person or their success, it’s just that we wish it was us!

So, what should you do when you feel that pang of envy gurgling deep in your gut?

Turn it into something else. Something like joy.

Joy and excitement for your fellow writer. And the realisation that if it can happen for him/her, it can happen for you too!

Thankfully, from my so far limited involvement in the Australian writing/publishing scene, I can see it’s full of wonderfully supportive people. They share each others posts, tweets, and status updates. And when someone has smashing news to share, they go into overdrive. Sharing, retweeting, and congratulating them on their success.

There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing this support and joy in the writing community.  When I see someone has scored a publishing deal, instead of writer envy, I am overjoyed! I tweet, share, comment and voice my support and excitement for the author. After all, what goes around comes around. If you’re supportive and engaged in other’s exciting news, they will do the same for you when it happens. We’re all in this together.

The other thing writer envy can do is remind us what we really want. And rather than sulk and wallow, we can dig deeper. Work harder. Focus. Keep writing. Keep revising. Keep rewriting. Keep editing. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize.

So stop comparing yourself to other writers. You don’t know how hard they’ve been working behind the scenes. How many hours they have stolen from their lives to achieve their success. And some people are just plain lucky. Right time, right place and all that. Comparing yourself to other writers, is a fruitless and joyless task.

As Theodore Roosevelt once so famously said,

Comparison is the thief of joy

‘Aint it the truth.

Kick that comparison to the curb. There’s plenty of room in the success pot for everyone. And what makes it all the more enjoyable is sharing in the success of others. And one day, they just might be able to share in yours.