Jealousy Among Writers: Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster

Guest Post by Anne Emerick

It’s a secret many writers try to hide, the negative emotions they feel upon hearing of another writer’s success. When you believe you should be applauding other writers’ accomplishments, it can be horrifying to realize that instead you feel jealous, envious of their success, resentful that they achieved a goal that is still out of your reach. The good news is that if you feel jealous, you can learn to channel that emotion into positive powerful actions.

Writing Jealousy cover

If you realize you feel bad, rather than good about another writer’s success, examine what exactly is it that bothers you. Common jealous-writer feelings include:

A feeling of being left behind

One writer commented that one-by-one critique group members were getting work published and it made him feel as though they weren’t all peers any more. You need to recognize that success or failings need not change any important relationships in your life.

People value consistency and like to know that you don’t view them any differently whether they have just had a grand success or a grand failure. Michael J. Fox loves to tell the story about how his first Emmy sits in the trophy case alongside other family members’ bowling and soccer team trophies. It’s important to recognize that a publishing contract or sales record isn’t going to cost you a friendship, because otherwise, how could you ever strive for those achievements?

A feeling that other writers doesn’t deserve their success

Do you feel a suddenly successful writer was lucky? Had connections? The problem with questioning whether another writer deserves the success he or she received is that part of your brain will then wonder whether you deserve to be successful. If something in you makes you feel that a writer didn’t deserve to be successful, ask yourself, why not? Why shouldn’t this writer be successful?

Just as there is no set of steps to follow that are guaranteed to lead to a successful writing career, so too there are no mandatory requirements. While it’s unlikely that you can sit down, write your first story, get it published and make the bestseller list, that is different than you not deserving to have people love that first story.

If you are surprised by how well a writer has done, have a good hard look at factors contributing to their success. You may see something useful that will help you achieve your own goals. Be careful that you don’t attribute their success to luck or celebrity alone as you may miss something that they did which you would be wise to emulate.

Just plain envious. They have what you want.

Writers may feel unable to celebrate another writer’s success because it’s a reminder of something they don’t have. How strongly you covet an achievement is an indication of how important that goal is to you. Be sure to honor that importance in prioritizing how you spend your time. But you also must realize that whatever another writer has received: a publishing contract, a number of sales, a starred review – there is more than one of them to go around. If this other writer did it, so can you. Consider their success a model for yours, proof that what you want is achievable.

Jealousy should not be ignored. If you feel it lurking nearby, bring it out into the light and examine that feeling. Jealousy is a monster and best dealt with firmly. There is nothing wrong with a writer who feels jealous. It’s what you do with that feeling that matters. You want to conquer jealousy for your own good.

People want to be liked and if you dislike or resent another writer because they are successful, then your subconcious will not want you to succeed as a writer for fear that others will dislike and resent you. Examine your own feelings, find a more useful way of thinking about other writers’ successes and then pursue your own success with passion and conviction. Let your own unique gifts shine without worry of comparison.

Anne Emerick is the author of The Day I Met Dr. Seuss and creator of No-Work Spanish audiobooks, an unusual way to learn Spanish. Anne blogs at Self-Publishing, Children’s Books and Me.

Author: MacAllister Stone

Owner and Editor-in-chief of AbsoluteWrite and CoyoteWild.

9 thoughts on “Jealousy Among Writers: Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster”

  1. I’ve actually never felt jealous of another writer’s success. Guess I’m weird. LOL. I love to hear when good writers get the accolades they deserve. It warms my heart and motivates me to work harder toward my goals as a writer. My motto, “I want to be like them when I grow up.” LOL

  2. This is an excellent post, particularly the part about learning what can be useful to you, from another author’s success as well as recognizing that negative feelings toward others success will deny you your own. Thank you.

  3. Good article! I’ve felt several kinds of resentment, jealousy, and envy; not admirable, but there it is. I try to turn them (as per your advice) into motivation to keep working.

  4. Thanks for addressing an unmentionable topic among writers. I don’t feel jealous of another writer’s success as I don’t feel it has any bearing on my own. I’m happy when someone achieves their goal. I have achieved several of my goals and have found that jealous writers do act out and sometimes try to hurt successful writers. It pains me to see this. My mother had a great way to deal with jealousy. She said if you’re jealous of someone for something they have, realize you would have to be that person to have that. I’ve never met the person I would rather be than myself. So that cured any possible jealousy in me. Finding a way to deal with jealousy positively will bring you more peace and a better chance of success than hurting someone who is already on their way.

  5. I particularly like the way you’ve suggested authors turn their jealousy toward themselves, to find out how to better celebrate another author. The more we celebrate others, the more we will be celebrated when our turn comes around. I love the positive grasp on these thoughts. We should always remember that: negativity is a very powerful boomerang.

  6. Good Article. I think people vary in this topic simply because people are varied themselves. I dont think I get so much jealousy when someone else has success. I think in truth its if your looking at a stack of rejection letters your misplaced angst is directed at that author. But root of it all isnt them. As mentioned above it is we looking at ourselves. Love the article. It was very balanced and informative so it rocks

  7. First of all I would like to say wonderful blog!
    I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t
    mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
    I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally
    wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or tips? Thank you!

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