the green-eyed beast: how do you deal with writer envy?

Hands up if you’ve never suffered writer envy.

OK, you there in the corner with your hand up, didn’t your mother teach you not to lie?

Everyone suffers writer envy. If you think you don’t, you either have no ambition, or you’re living under a rock. Most vulnerable to crippling writer envy are writers who haven’t yet made a sale to something they consider a good venue. Next would be writers who haven’t sold anything for a while.

You know the feeling. You’re happily plodding along, coping (or so you think) with rejection and then you hear that so-and-so writer (often someone who’s coming up the ranks with you) has made a sale you would kill for. Well, almost. Don’t kill them for reals, though. You think this person has it easy. You think this person is not as worthy as you. You think your work is better. Or something. In any case, you’re angry, you’re depressed and you feel like making snarky comments all over the internet.

Everyone feels like that sometimes.

What to do?

Well, don’t deny it. The writing gig is hard and filled with ups and downs. Give yourself the day off, or do something that takes your mind off writing, until you’re ready to tackle writing again.

Don’t forget to congratulate your friend. A simple ‘congratulations’ will do. Don’t add a backhanded compliment, or some sort of whingey statement, like ‘All I get from this magazine is form rejection’. Congratulating someone with their success is not about you. At all. Pretending you didn’t hear the news only prolongs your own agony. Congratulate them, and move on.

Use the anger. That so-and-so who made the sale is obviously a hack, and you could do sooooo much better. Well, do it, then. It shows if you use emotion to drive your writing.

Different writers have different career paths and find different niches. There are places where I would love to sell, but I probably never will because of what I write and how I write.

Also, successes and failures tend to come in bunches. Next time you sell something, think of the other writers who are in the middle of a rejection-fest. Know that next time it will probably be you.

Remain true to your style and your choice of genre. There is no point trying to run after trends just because you want to sell something so you can out-bluff your friends.

Patience, batman. I know that’s hard, and some people won’t believe I even said this.

Eventually, time will heal everything. And a sale or two. For that to happen, you have to write. So if you feel envious? Easy. Write more!

writer, mind your health

Twitter is interesting. It’s fun, it’s immediate and it’s quite personal. It’s kinda voyeuristic as well.

Through Twitter, and other social media, I’ve connected with many writers.

Just lately, I’ve come to realise something awful:

I’ve never known a collective group of people more plagued by chronic health problems.

OK, OK, the social media are kinda conducive to whinge and whine about your doctor’s appointments, your pain in whatever body part, and your anxiety.


Fact remains…

Writers seem to have an disproportionate amount of arm and shoulder problems. Or back problems. Tennis elbows, back pain, sciatica, you name it.

Many writers have issues with anxieties or depression. Or they’re unhappy, or lonely, or feel socially isolated.

More often than not, when random people post pictures from cons or writer gatherings all over the world, a fair number of people in the pictures will be overweight.

Are writers more prone to these three things in particular? Am I crazy? I don’t know, but, it seems to me a good idea to keep track of your posture and ergonomics while you’re working. If your arms or anywhere in your upper body feels sore after a day of work, change your posture, change your work area. Get professional help, if you are unsure. Also: especially middle-aged and older women tend to have absolutely-bloody-pathetic strength in their arms and shoulders. Muscle wastage causes and exacerbates shoulder and arm injuries. In short: go to the gym and do some weight exercises! This one in particular stopped my neck and shoulder problems.

Make sure you don’t forget your social circle and your real life. Dont let yourself become isolated and lonely.

And get off your arse and stop the upwards weight-creep. Eat healthy food and set some time aside each day for exercise.