Writer’s Envy: What to Do When You’re Feeling Green

Posted by houndrat on Monday Apr 26, 2010 Under writing, Young Adult

So, as a writer, do you ever find yourself feeling like this?

It's not easy being green!

It's not easy being green!

No, I’m not talking about feeling like you have ears the size of small trumpets, or a neck that could support a Hummer. I’m taking about feeling green.

If so, don’t worry. You’re not alone. The truth is, writers envy other writers. Often.

Think about it. Most of us are striving for the same goals, and no matter how successful we are, someone is going to reach those goals before us. It’s inevitable. And, OMG, then we worry.

I mean, be honest. Have you ever had one of the following thoughts?

Well, if Writer FancyPants got SuperAwesomeAgent X, does that mean there’s no spot left for ME?

Prolific Proser finished that novel in two weeks, and yet I’ve been slogging away at mine for decades!

Writer LovelyWords wrote a first draft full of such gorgeous, luscious prose, it makes my first draft read like it was penned by a dyslexic donkey!

Then there’s the post-agent envy. That green pang that strikes every time someone you know snags a one, two, three-book deal while you’re twiddling your thumbs on sub, wondering if the editors are using your manuscript as a giant coaster—for the champagne they’re drinking while celebrating the acquisition of THAT OTHER book. Or when so and so gets more marketing money, a better cover, superior book store real estate. The list goes on and on and on.

No fair--his is bigger than mine!

No fair--his is bigger than mine!


Guess what? It’s OKAY to be a little envious. It’s a natural human reaction, and initially coveting someone else’s success doesn’t make you a bad person. Really.

That said, there comes a time when the coveting goes too far. I’m all about accepting your envy, only—don’t let it take you to the Bad Place. You know the one. That’s where you go when you start mumbling stuff like, “Oh, Author BigHugeDeal ONLY got that sweet contract because they were in the right place at the right time.” Or, “Author I’veGotARockstarAgent ONLY got signed because he/she had the right connections.”

Uh-uh. Not cool. Remember—99.0% of the writers who get ahead do so because of hard work, skill, and persistence. So while it’s okay to feel that envy, you need to throw up an inner roadblock. Do NOT drag Author HotSHot to your Bad Place. That’s where your insecurities live, and the only person who can deal with those is YOU. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, really—why would anyone else?

So, instead of a visit to the BP, I’ve made up a little list of helpful hints to keep that really negative type of envy in check:

-Chow down on chocolate. That stuff is FULL of endorphins—embrace it. Plus, if you eat a ton of it, you’ll be too busy trying to get that extra five pounds off to worry about what WonderWriter is doing.

-Buy a killer new pair of shoes. Hey, Author Amazing might have had SqueeWorthy Agent offer five minutes after sending out a full, but YOU’VE got the hot footwear—and your toes/ankles/calves are smoking in those suckers!

-Watch your favorite movie. Then, think about envying your favorite actor or actress instead. Chances are, they’re way more successful than Author FabuFreakingLicious is ever going to be.

-Make a list of awesome skills you have that SpectacularScribbler doesn’t share. Like, the ability to pick up small objects with your toes, or execute a perfect rendition of the Running Man. Or the very crucial talent of shot-gunning a beer in under ten seconds.

In all seriousness, though, the best thing? Let yourself experience the envy without beating yourself up about it. Then, after you’ve embraced your inner green self—get over it. Move on. Realize everyone has their highs and lows, and learn to appreciate your own strengths. And, if it makes you feel any better, know this—there’s probably another writer out there right this very minute who’s envious of YOU.

(P.S. What honestly works for me? Getting really, really excited for the writer in question. I find it’s almost impossible to be ecstatic for someone else and still harbor seriously negative emotions. Plus, squeeing on other people’s behalves? IT’S FUN—and kills free-radicals!!!!)**

**Note: this claim has not been substantiated by medical science. In other words—you’ll just have to take houndrat’s word for it. Sparkle Out.

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