Writer’s Jealousy: Make it Work for You

I am so jealous this morning. One friend just won a literary fellowship. Another, I learned, has approximately 1,237 blog followers. Yet another just landed a big fat juicy book contract where eight–count ’em–EIGHT–publishers fought for her book at auction. Writer jealous feels petty and unfair. While every one of my friends totally deserves her honor, where’s my piece of pie?
Writing Tip for Today: We’ve all struggled with writer’s jealousy. Unlike writer’s block, this demon really exists–mostly to make us feel miserable. But can we harness that destructive energy for good? Here are some thoughts:

  • READ the Best. While it may be fun to sit around and complain that so-and-so must know insiders or that Writer B just got lucky, why not keep reading? You will be a better writer if you regularly read the BEST stuff you can find. Even if it is your best friend’s book. Inspire yourself. I don’t worry about affecting another’s style. If I do start to sound like another writer, it’ll be temporary. Eventually, my own voice will reemerge.
  • Bitterness Looks Good on NOBODY. Writers who grouse that the system is rigged, that you must know somebody to get published or that all the good ideas are taken are mostly right. But a bad attitude which takes up so much time that you stop writing isn’t productive. I’d rather see a “I’ll show you” attitude than “why bother?”
  • Write a Zillion Words. As FAST as Possible. Write every day. If you really want to be like Writer X, who is on Oprah or sells a gazillion books, be willing to do as they’ve done. Spend hours and days and weeks and months perfecting your craft. It’s the best cure I can think of for Writer Jealousy.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

6 comments on “Writer’s Jealousy: Make it Work for You

  1. Ahhh. I SO get this. The funny part is that no matter how much affirmation we ourselves get, we’re always prone to be jealous of the person who seems just slightly ahead on the ladder, a rung or two up. Which is ridiculous, of course. It’s a bottomless pit, and I’m so glad you blogged about this. None of us is immune, even if we want to think we are. The sooner we realize that more fame or accolades only open the hole bigger–now you’ve gotta prove everyone was right!–it gets slightly easier to not invest in that particular void. Your ego will never, ever let you win. The whip just gets thicker the higher you climb. And then you realize at some point that no one is actually impressed ever anyway! I love this subject and I think you’re brilliant and it’s always such a relief when a writer is honest about such things. You rock, Linda. I love knowing and reading you! 🙂

    • Heather, So gracious of you not to blow my cover. 🙂 My friend who got the literary fellowship, Gina Ochsner, is a genius who’s already won the O. Henry, the Flannery O’Connor and oodles of other awards. Totally deserves all that and more! Nicest, most spiritual person ever. So hard to hate when someone is really nice, like Gina. Like you. I’ve been reading Neil Young’s memoir (totally rocks!)and he says about the muse, “Don’t spook the Horse. Any ride on the Horse must not have a destination.” Ain’t it the truth! Love u, Linda

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