So yesterday I talked about my own bouts with author envy and how it can really bring me down. Now, for my own sanity and happiness, I want to look at some ways of dealing with it and getting through it.
Focus on What You Love
The first thing I did was go back to when I was feeling happy and good about my writing. Where was my focus? On my writing, not someone else’s career. Wow. Big revelation there, eh? But how easily and quickly we forget this basic tenet. Writer Jeff Goins has a great blog post (and a free or cheap e-book) on this very thing – focus on the writing, find the joy in the writing and stop writing for publication or fame or money (hopefully that will come in the “do what you love, the money will follow” vein, but the reason for writing should be because you love it.)
Write About It
In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott decided to write about her envy so she could see it for what it was and not be poisoned by it. She wrote and wrote and then wrote about what she wrote in her chapter on jealousy. Similarly for me, I can trace it back to my childhood, where it was about being noticed and applauded, getting positive attention and kudos for who I was and what I did. I can see now that I wanted desperately to be validated, to know I was worth something, belonged somewhere. I believe those old feelings fuel the envy I sometimes have today. Even as I write those words right now I felt a weight lifting. Facing something head on and dissecting it can give it less power.
Let it Motivate You for Good
When I’m in my right mind (which isn’t often, though they say left-handed people are the only ones in their right minds), I can actually turn my envy into passion. But I have to be realistic. I can’t just “write a bestseller.” I have to write a book I am so passionate and excited about that readers can’t help but be passionate and excited about it too. Oh, wait. That gets us back to the first suggestion above: Focus on What You Love. Interesting.
Anyway, I feel tons better after writing this post…thank you, Anne Lamott!
Here are a few links I found that provide sound advice for getting past the green:
- Writer Envy: When Going Green Is Not So Cool by Leslie Greffenius (who used the same stock.xchng photo I selected for yesterday’s post! It’s so perfect…)
- Author Envy by Wendy Higgins. This is a great example of a very successful writer sharing her own envy. If Wendy Higgins feels envious…
- Envy, the Writer’s Disease by Bonita Friedman. A really great exploration.