When Is It My Turn: Author Envy

BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 015I know some wonderful writers who are unpublished. There are books I’ve read which I’m not sure should have been published. But all of this adds up to about the same thing: author envy.

It’s far too easy to start comparing yourself and your writing to others. How do you stand up against your heroes? Why would “something like this” [insert whatever lousy book you read] get published and my work continues to be rejected?

From there, it can be a slippery slope to actually degenerating someone else’s work, perhaps in an effort to validate your own. Perhaps your entire attitude becomes negative – either on other people, or your own work, or both. This can destroy professional relationships – like critique groups – or prospects (the publishing world can be very small sometimes).

Envy of any kind is a sneaky, dangerous beast. It can eat you up if you aren’t careful.

We can call fall prey to envy. But we can also overcome it, outsmart it, and prevent it from taking over.

How?

  1. It lurks in the shadows of our mind. Like any criminal who lurks in the shadows, shine a flashlight on it. Acknowledge it. Realize what it is, and perhaps why it’s there. It can’t sneak up on you if you’re watching it.
  2. Try to decipher it. Why has it reared its head? Is it because you admire the work of another? Because you’re questioning the validity of your own? Because you’re frustrated by various outside factors you can’t control?
  3. Talk about the envy with close and trusted friends. If the feeling is directed towards one of those people, acknowledge and discuss, while trying to avoid hurt feelings.
  4. Accept it. Feeling guilty about it won’t help. Understanding why you’re feeling it might.
  5. Acknowledge the positive attributes that lead to this envy and decide what you can learn from it. Is there something that other author does you could / should do? Can you make better opportunities? What can you learn from something negative, to turn it into something positive?
  6. Move on. Kick that sneaky bugger to the curb, and don’t let it pull you down. Instead, work on goals and actions that deal with the underlying cause of the envy, instead of giving in to weakness (in attacks on the target of that envy, blaming yourself, etc).

Have you ever experienced author envy? How did you deal with it? What’s your advice? Do share. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.