I join NaNoWriMo year after year because of the writing community—there’s nothing like it!
I love how writers from everywhere unite for a common, personal writing goal: To finally write that novel. We receive genuine support virtually from writers across the country and globe. And we finally get to meet hundreds of writers within our community during one of the coldest months of the year.
Sadly, there’s always a dark side to even the best of intentions.
When we’re introduced to new writers, we see what they’re writing, how fast they’re writing and how much success they receive for their writing.
Enter the green-eyed monster.
Writer’s envy can kill a good thing such as the National Novel Writing Month experience unless you keep it in check. Fortunately, all it takes is a serious self-talk to muster your way through your envious feelings about someone else’s writing.
Here’s how to get over your writer’s envy.
What is Writer’s Envy?
You want to reach that daily word count that another writer exceeds. You want the list of awards that a writer has in their NaNoWriMo bio. You want last year’s NaNoWriMo novel to be printed by that publishing house that published that writer’s National Novel Writing Month manuscript.
In short, writer’s envy is when you want something that another writer has for yourself.
Writer’s envy occurs when you compare your writing talent, ideas and/or career progress to another writer’s status and find that they surpass yours. You feel envious because you want what they have to be happening to you.
Writer’s Envy vs Writer’s Jealousy
Common speak has falsely evolved to us using the words envy and jealousy interchangeably—but don’t be deceived! These words have the same feeling of lack, but have different and distinct meanings.
As stated about, writer’s envy is when you see a writer have what you want for yourself. You don’t want to take away what that writer has. You simply want what they have to be happening in your writing and in your life.
Writer’s jealousy is when you worry that another writer is going to take away something you already possess.
If you fear that another writer will exceed your daily NaNoWriMo word count or steal your writing idea, that’s writer’s jealousy. You feel jealous because you don’t want someone else taking away what you already have (or thought you had).
Chances are, you feel writer’s envy and not writer’s jealousy. And that’s a good thing.
Why is Writer’s Envy a Good Thing? (Asking for a Friend)
Experiencing writer’s envy means that you recognize what you want for yourself.
Envious of a writer’s daily word count during National Novel Writing Month? You want to write more.
Envious of a writer’s NaNoWriMo buddy count? You want a bigger network.
Envious of a writer’s bio on NaNoWriMo.org? You want writing success.
This is a good thing. Once you can identify what you want when it comes to your writing, you can make steps in your life to changing your habits so that it can manifest in your life.
How to Get Over Your Writer’s Envy
This is where the self-talk comes in.
Whenever the green-eyed monster creeps into your mind, you have a secret weapon to ward off the ugly beast: Reason.
There are two ways to get through it: Place a plan in motion or talk yourself through it.
If your writer’s envy inspires you to make things happen, then it’s time to place a plan in motion.
If you want to reach a higher daily word count during NaNoWriMo, find more ways to write more this season.
If you want more writing success, get your writing in gear so that you can submit to these writing contests and awards.
Need more guidance? Reach out to that writer that sparked your writer’s envy and ask for advice. No, this doesn’t have to be a tail-between-your-legs kind of moment. You may be surprised to find that they’re humbled that you sought them for advice.
But taking this kind of action might be overwhelming right now. If you have a full-time job, family commitments or you/someone close is experiencing a chronic illness, taking on your lofty goals is too much for your life to currently handle.
And that’s okay.
If you know how to talk yourself through it, you’ll spend less time dwelling on those icky feelings and more time making what you can make happen actually happen.
Try these pep talks on for size:
- When You Want to Write More: National Novel Writing Month is a self-competition between you and you. Sure, other writers are simultaneously experiencing their own NaNoWriMos during November just like you. What a coincidence! You’ve chosen a word count goal (50K or higher) to achieve before December 1 and that’s your goal. The progress you make towards that writing goal is your progress.
- When You Want a Bigger Network: NaNoWriMo is not a popularity contest. They have an impressive writing buddies count on NaNoWriMo.org. They have thousands of followers on Twitter or connections on LinkedIn. Concentrate on the writing community you have. Cherish and nurture these connections. The strongest writing networks are built on a foundation of loyal friends and followers, so focus on being a friend first.
- When You Want Writing Success: Your writing is unique. So is that writer’s writing. Yes, they have won competitions and awards. Yes, their book is listed as this year’s best books on X, Y, Z booklist. But books can’t be compared to one another. Each book is a work of art. And you’re in the midst of creating your next incomparable masterpiece. Focus on your writing craft, on your book, on your NaNoWriMo goal.
NaNoWriMo wasn’t created so that you hate yourself for 30 days. National Novel Writing Month was created to inspire you to finally write that novel, to meet your local writing community and to grow as a writer. So don’t let yourself sit out on this opportunity so that you can wallow in self-pity.
You can feel writer’s envy or you can feel inspired to write. The choice is yours.