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!