J is for Jealousy

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge–blogging every day in the month of April (except Sundays!) with each letter of the alphabet.

When you’re an author, published or not, the best advice you can take is “keep your eyes on your own paper.” By that I mean, focus on your own work and not what other authors are doing. I don’t mean ignore what they’re writing, though. I’m not telling you to turn your back on the industry or don’t read. I mean, don’t compare your success to the successes of other authors. As soon as you start doing that, you’re going to stall yourself.

It’s hard to feel proud of your own humble work when you compare yourself to a New York Times bestselling author, if you are not yourself one. By all means read the top author’s works, for it helps you know what’s selling and shows you how the people at the top of the heap are writing–but don’t use their work as a benchmark for yourself. It’s okay to want to improve, but it’s not good to self-hate or trash your own work just because someone is better than you. There will always be authors who are better than you. You will be better than some authors, too. More important is to learn, grow, improve, and take advice. All those things are hard to do when you’re feeling lost in someone else’s shadow.

I’ve suffered plenty of jealousy over the years, sulking when other writers won the contest, got the contract, sold more, published more, got better reviews–I think it’s impossible to eradicate all jealousy from your life. But when I feel the green eyed monster trying to get loose, I remind myself of a few things:

– Someone else’s success does not invalidate your own, nor does it mean you won’t be just as successful in the future.

– Celebrating, rather than turning your nose up at the successes of others makes you feel better about yourself–and can make you friends, too!

– Feeling inferior is an opportunity to look at the inadequacies that make you feel that way so you can learn how to improve.

How about you, do you get jealous of other authors? How do you deal with it?

24 comments

  1. Jealousy is a green-eyed monster. Allowing yourself to celebrate with others helps, as does inspirational quotes. “It is never wise to seek or wish for another’s misfortune. If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” ~Charley Reese

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  2. Visiting new blogs during the #Challenge leads to nice surprises like finding YOU. I always start with fellow writers with the (WR) designation. Thanks for the hard work you have put into all these posts. I enjoyed them all. I’ll be back. If you have a minute, come see what I’m up to.

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  3. I don’t really get jealous, thank goodness. I like to believe there are enough stars in the sky for all of us. All we have to do is reach high enough. Everyone has a story…

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  4. Great post, and great “J” word! Like James, I feel jealous of more prolific writers…I’d love to put a book a year out, but I’m not there. My current WIP is going to take about three years by the time I’m done. I never get jealous of better writers, but I am bothered when a writer with less skill is successful. I’m thinking of one in particular, whose books are downright awful, but she’s found an audience. I figure jealousy is a message to myself to be more disciplined about getting the work done…or more at peace about moving slowly with my books.

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    1. I agree, there’s some very popular writers out there who, well…just don’t write very well. But I think readers are a strange, fickle bunch and sometimes it’s the idea of something, rather than the technical expertise of it, that makes something so popular–does that make sense? Being that we’re writers we can see how poorly it’s written, but people who don’t write aren’t really looking at things like that, just the concept of it.

      Just keep your head down and keep pushing forward, that’s the idea! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I’m with Nadine; my jealousy towards other authors tends to arise when they’ve become popular in spite of bad writing. If the writing is good, I can only admire them and hope that one day I, too, will get published because of good writing and a beautiful story — not because what I wrote just happens to be worthy of the masses’ fancy, and their millions of dollars.

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      1. Unfortunately, in all forms of entertainment that seems to be the way of the world. Think of how many terrible albums, TV shows, and movies are adored by the masses. Luckily there’s some really good entertainment in the world that gets love too, and that’s where our hope lies.

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    1. Me too. But if it makes you feel better, for me personally the reason I have a bunch of stuff getting published at once is because I have a huge backlog of stuff I’ve written over the years that is just now getting picked up by publishers. It could be that some of these writers have just been writing for a long time and they’ve got a huge body of work all ready to go.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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