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.
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.