What to do with writer’s jealousy

We’ve all been there–whether swapping work with a fellow writer, engrossed in a gripping novel or just stumbling across a soccer mom’s blog–the heart beats a little faster, the face flushes red. Enter jealousy.

Eww. Even the word conjures images of crying kids and grotesque green monsters. When jealous rears it’s ugly head, we tend to push it down, embarrassed or ashamed. Even worse, we let it run wild, blind us to our own true desires. It’s not fun to admit, but we all have jealousy rolling around in the bottom of our emotional toolbox, a loose screw we’d rather forget was there.

But that’s just it. It is an emotion and it can be used as a tool.

Let’s turn this thing on its head a minute.

What if we viewed jealousy as device we could master, an emotion that didn’t debilitate (or turn our fingers into chubby green covet claws). I think it’s possible and really not all that hard. So if you’re a writer, these steps are for you just as much as for me. They’re simple and no perfect prescription, but you’ll get the gist… and you’ll also get the better of jealousy before it gets the better of you!

What to do with writer’s jealousy

1. Figure out what kind of jealous you are.
Do you a) wish you had what the other has or b)wish the other didn’t have it? There’s a big difference. With option a, you can go somewhere. But option b should be avoided. A shows you that you are positively dissatisfied. A dissatisfaction that is not just discontent for the moment, but a dissatisfaction that says I want to do better, be better. Option b is the uglier side of jealousy. Wishing ill of others, wishing they would not succeed or even that they’d fail. This kind of thinking will never help you succeed; bashing another writer in your brain will only waste away think time and take up creative space.  So if you’re b, forget it. It’s not worth your time; you’re headed toward a life of disappointment. If you’re a, keep on keeping on.

2. Figure out if you really want what you think you want.
This is can be tricky, because thanks to social media and all this Internet jazz, it’s pretty easy to be swayed by another person’s form of success.  But really take time to evaluate. Do you want to be published in a magazine? Do you really want a popular blog? Do you want to write a YA book? Think about what goes into these accomplishments and decide if that’s really what you’re aiming at. If not, then move on. Re-focus on your end goal and discern if you’re taking the right steps to get there.

3. Take steps toward what you really want.
If you’ve realized that the flare-up of jealousy comes from a place of simple and pure motivation towards your goals. If you can honestly say this is what you want, not what someone else wants for you, not trying to fit the status quo. Then look at your life. Look at your calendar. Are your making and taking the time for stepping toward your goal? If not, it’s time. Don’t put it off any longer. Make a weekly map and make it happen, one day at a time.

Turning jealousy on its head is definitely a journey. If you’ve found ways to deal with writer’s jealousy, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Note from Lara: What a great post, Megan! One way that I deal with writer’s jealousy is to cheer writers on instead. Many writers don’t participate in writing contests out of fear, fear that their pride would be damaged or fear of jealousy of other writers. What if I don’t do well in the contest? What if others do better? The only writer we should be comparing ourselves to is the one we were yesterday, last month, last year, five years ago. Every writer has his or her own path to success, but each one is filled with rejection and self-doubt.
I’ve created a new contest called pg70pit. It’s anonymous, so the only writer who will know if you get into the final seven or get agent requests is you. Any writer with a complete, polished MG, teen, or adult novel is welcome to enter, with the only exception being the genre of erotica (since excerpts will be posted publicly). Find out more at bit.ly/70pit, or visit bit.ly/LaraBlog on July 7th to see the top entries!

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