Writer Jealousy: When Your Friend Writes a Bestseller

OOOh. I’m so green with envy, if I was single and on Match.com, they’d pair me up with Kermit the Frog. One of my writer friends seems poised to break out into the BIG time with a BESTSELLER. As we stagger down our writing paths, once in a while fame brushes against us. It’s not fame for us, mind you, but for someone we know and love. Well, OK, we used to love, until envy and coveting overtook us.
Writing Tip for Today: How can writers handle their feelings when someone they know hits it big?

  • The Green-eyed Friggin’ Monster. Our natural tendencies are to get swallowed by jealousy. After all, writing success comes to so few of us as it is. Most writers never get to quit the day job, find a top flight agent or sign a contract with an advance with more than two zeroes. Nope, most writers labor year after year, honing their craft, writing stuff that goes nowhere or else writing copy or product that feels like prostitution. Go ahead and privately turn green, but then remember: This writer who bursts upon the Bestseller list most likely has drawers full of efforts that didn’t make it as far. Amanda Hocking, who made a mil from a self-pubbed book? She had written 12 other novels before the one which hit it big. We’re all in the same boat, see?
  • To Belittle or Not to Belittle. One of my favorite ploys (so as to avoid facing my lustful nature) is to counter my friend’s success with, “Well I can’t write so no wonder I’m not successful like he/she is!” This kind of self abasement only results in one thing: discouragement. Do you really want to work on your manuscript when it’s clear you should have stuck with a hobby like knitting? As we know when we’re not crazy with jealousy, comparisons seldom help us have a positive and/or healthy attitude. Compare yourself only to the authors whom you admire most, and only as a way to keep learning your craft. You’ll always be a better writer than someone, and someone will always be better than you are.
  • Keep Your BIC and WRITE. If you keep producing word count, learning your craft and editing ruthlessly you won’t have time for Envy. You may say it’s all luck or “who you know.” This is partly true–especially the LUCK part–and you can either gripe about it or accept the way it is and work on writing your best work. The successes out there wanted it enough to work very hard, and not give up. Do you?

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.

4 comments on “Writer Jealousy: When Your Friend Writes a Bestseller

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Linda. God has gifted each one of us with a unique voice and outreach. We may only reach a few readers, but our words may just be the ones that hit the spot at the moment of need.

  2. I remember a sermon that reminded us how Joseph was called to deliver Egypt but first had to go to prison, David delivered Israel but first had to go to caves, and Jesus delivered us all but first had to go to the cross. God had His different plans for each of them, and they all took time! And all the while, people were dying in their sins. God is never in a hurry but He’s always on time.
    And He makes all things beautiful in His time–and in His way.
    I’m just to rejoice with my sisters and wait on the Lord. He uses us all, one way or another. I’d love to have a bestseller one day. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. But If I obey, I will get a crown to lay at His feet one day. 🙂

    • Margo,
      You are so right. But I admit to feeling pretty darned spiteful at times. If I don’t have a bestseller one day, I plan to go around biting people. That’s a joke.
      Keep Writing,

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