I keep blogging about writing for years now because I love the writing community. Writers at all stages of the writing process and writing careers are genuinely supportive of each other, offering advice and encouragement usually free of charge.
Even the best of intentions has a dark side.
As you develop your writer network, you are introduced to writers who you believe write better than you and faster than you.
This is where the green-eyed writer’s envy monster creeps in.
Writer’s envy can destroy your relationships with other writers as well as halt your own writing. That is, unless you keep it in check.
This may surprise you, but writer’s envy is the start to something very positive. Once you understand why you feel writer’s envy and talk through your envious feelings, you can get your writing goals back on track.
Before you can get past your writer’s envy, you must really understand what it’s all about.
Writer’s Envy Defined
You want to publish as many books as another writer has. Heck, you want to publish your first book like your neighbor’s friend who just started writing last year. You want a list of awards that another writer lists on their social media profiles. Or you want to write as eloquently or as witty as that writer.
In other words, writer’s envy is when you want for yourself something that another writer has.
You experience writer’s envy when you compare your writing ideas, career progress and/or talent to another writer’s status with the evaluation that theirs surpasses yours. You develop feelings of envy because you want what they have to be happening to you.
So Writer’s Envy Isn’t Jealousy?
Everyday conversation has falsely evolved envy and jealousy to mean the same thing—but they are quite different! True, both words express the same feeling of lack, but its approach and intent set them both apart.
As previously stated, writer’s envy is when you want something that another writer has for yourself. You don’t want to take away that writer’s success or talents from them. You simply wish that this writing success was happening in your own life.
Writer’s jealousy means that you’re worried that another writer plans to take away something that you already have in your writing or writing career.
If you fear that another writer will steal your writing idea, that’s writer’s jealousy. You experience jealousy because you don’t want another writer snagging what you already have (or thought you had).
Chances are, you feel not writer’s jealousy but writer’s envy. And that’s definitely a relief.
How Can Writer’s Envy Be a Good Thing?
Since writer’s envy is recognizing that you want what another writer has, you’ve achieved the first step to success: defining what you want for your writing.
Envious of a writer’s published book count? You want to publish more novels.
Envious that a writer you know has published a book? You want to publish a book.
Envious of a writer’s bio? You want more writing success.
Envious of a writer’s style? You want to sharpen your writing skills.
Now that your writing goal is identified, you can create actionable steps in your life to change your habits so that your writing goal can manifest into your life.
How to Get Past Your Writer’s Envy
It’s time for the self pep talk.
You can always defeat the green-eyed monster with your secret weapon of reason. Because there are two ways to get past your writer’s envy:
- Place a plan in motion
- Talk yourself through it
If you’re inspired to make things happen, then it’s time to let your writer’s envy fuel some action.
If you want to publish a book, commit to writing more and take steps towards publication.
If you want to win more writing accolades, submit your writing to more writing competitions.
If you want to refine your writing talent, sign up for a creative writing course and continue to practice your skill.
Need more help? Don’t be shy about reaching out to that writer who sparked your writer’s envy and ask for some advice. This doesn’t have to be a defeating moment. You may find that they are humbled by your quest of guidance.
Not all writing journeys are the same. Taking action right now might not be foreseeable in your near future. For example, a full-time job, family commitments or you/someone close is experiencing a chronic illness, taking on more writing goals might be too much for your life to handle.
Talk yourself through your writer’s envy so that you spend less time dwelling on these negative feelings and more time making what you can make happen in your writing actually happen.
Try some of these pep talks when writer’s envy creeps in:
When You Want to Write More or Publish More: Writing is a journey between you and you. Yes, other writers are simultaneously experiencing the writing journey just like you. What a funny coincidence! Some writing journeys are slower than others. What’s important is that yours keeps moving forward. As long as you make some effort each day, you are still committed to your writing. The progress you make towards that writing goal is your progress.
When You Want More Writing Success: Your writing is matchless. So is that person’s writing. Sure, they have won awards and competitions. Sure, their book is listed on multiple best book lists. However, stories can’t be compared to one another. Each story is a work of art. You’re currently in the midst of creating your upcoming incomparable masterpiece. Choose to focus on your writing craft and on your story.
You can choose writer’s envy or you can choose to write. The choice is yours.