Writerly Jealousy

I know it would be wiser to keep this affliction to myself, to make myself appear like the happy and confident writer, but no, I would rather share this weakness of mine in hopes that other writers might read this and know that they’re not alone…

Have you ever been unable to finish a book, or felt hot coals seething in your chest, while reading, because you were jealous at how well it was written? Have you felt even more jealous when reading writing so good only to realize that the writer is close to your own age? (too close for me to use the excuse: Oh, she’s older than me, therefore has had more writing experience then I. I can catch up).

I’ve felt it all.

I know I should be confident about my writing. I know it’s bad to compare myself to other writers. My head knows this all. But my heart continues to writhe.  Its not to say that I think my story is bad. I have a healthy dose of pride for TRC. And yet still, I look at other writers, younger, or just a bit older than I, and I think to myself…. there are so many good writers out there, so what difference could my contribution to the literary world do? I start questioning myself, my passion, my ability to write.

So this is what I’ve been struggling with during my week active on Authonomy, trying to promote my work–at first it had been done for fun, but it became a matter of pride later on, to get my story’s ranking higher up.

Jealousy isn’t good. It only gets in the way of my writing. I need to stop being a slave to this sentiment. Does anyone have a cure for this sickness?

Rather than seeing other aspiring writers as rivals, I want to learn how to see them as co-workers, each of them struggling with many of their own writerly afflictions.

So, for anyone who has suffered, or is suffering, from writerly jealousy–please know that you’re not alone. I know how tormenting it feels. I think every writer feels a lack of confidence at times. Always remember though: YOUR MANUSCRIPT KICKS ARSE. Your writing, your voice, is unique.

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Writerly Jealousy

  1. xxhawkeyexx

    I know how you feel, I’ve felt it too.
    To see how someone else has better grammar, more vocabulary, inspiring words and thousands of comments saying how good they are…it makes you feel jealousy, but there’s a moment when you realize that instead of viewing them as enemies you need to see them as teachers and “admire” their work. We need to learn from people that are better, and we need to practice to be better, not perfect because perfection doesn’t exist, we need to use that “envy” as fuel to say:
    “Hey, I need to work harder to surpass him/her and myself.”
    We need to be positive and try our best.
    I’m human, and I’ve felt that way before, but I’ve learned to be stubborn and try and try until I overcome, not them, but myself.
    Take care, goo luck…and you are not alone :D!
    http://xxhawkeyexx.wordpress.com/

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    • I’m jealous of you.

      Just joking! Ah, what a great response, and how right you are. I should get my envy to fuel me to become a better writer…you can’t imagine how insightful your message has been. The beauty of words…

      Like

  2. My hero is Mark Twain. I know there is no way I can ever be as good as him, so all I can do is be me.

    As long as my wife and kids love me I can get by.

    I think you write well. Anyone who tells you they’ve never had a moment of insecurity is lying or not in touch with their psyche.

    drtombibey.wordpress.com

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    • Yes, we should always strive to be ourselves, rather than the replica of another writer.

      Your right also in saying you can get by as long as your family loves you. It goes the same for me. I have to tell myself that the value of my person does not depend on the success of my story. I have my families who love me, who sees my worth, and I shouldn’t want so much to prove this to the world with my writing. So I need to be content with myself on this matter. I mustn’t take competition too personally.

      Oops, I’m rambling here. But your comment was just so though provoking.

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  3. I must say that I love you, miss bluestocking, for being so very honest and weak with us…your humanity is touching and encouraging! The feeling is mutual, comparison is a deadly disease that many suffer with, myself included, pride a terrible companion, the symptoms very…well, defeating. But I know your manuscript kicks arse! And don’t let the world or even yourself tell you any different. Keep up the good work and remember that you write because you want to…that is why all great writer’s ever wrote, they had something they wanted and needed to say! It doesn’t matter how it is judged, it is the thought, the message that counts, and only the author ever truly knows what that is. I have to tell myself this often (and should do so more), that I am writing not for others, but in actuality, for myself. To say what I cannot with my vocal cords with my pen. Writing is very selfish, and very, very giving – it is a paradox. So…without any more guilding the eternal lily…just freakin’ write it!!! I can’t wait to see and read TRC published and bound!

    much love and warm regard.
    Sarah 😉

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    • My dear Madame du Lac,

      YOUR comments are always so honest and encouraging. Which is why I love writing these entries because I know writers like you are reading.

      You can be assured that I’ll reserve a section on my bookshelf for your novels alone.

      I hope you’ll keep me updated on your blog about your story…!!!

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  4. Nora Roberts wrote one series that so impressed me they were the only fiction books I took with me when I moved from my original home. I left 10,000 others behind. They impressed me so much I continue to buy books buy her, even though I have so far been disappointed in all of them. Nothing matches the key trilogy she wrote. It has almost no flaws.

    Yeah, I was jealous (at first). Then I do what I always do when I see a writer I am burningly jealous of. I study their techniques, and see if any of them will work for me.

    If all else fails and I still feel rotten, than I go to http://www.fictionpress.com and look for really bad fiction. The more mistakes the better. I scan for mistakes, preen over them, and feel better. Yeah it’s kind of low, but it works.

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  5. I just thought I’d add—don’t go look at Madame Du Lac’s page if you’re looking to feel better about yourself. You’ll just end up wallowing in jealousy. >_> I’m sure she’s found more than a few *ahem* “stories” to point you to though.

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    • Yah, Madam du Lac is a great writer, so she’ll probably have gotten by green pea with jealousy did I not like her enough to wish her all the success! It’s easier not to be jealous of someone when you see them as your equal, as a fellow writer, as a teacher (as xxhawkeyexx said I should).

      Oh man, fictionpress overflows with bad writing. No doubt there are very good ones. But there are ones that kids type out and post in a few minutes. Of course, when I was young, I confess to having written really bad stories…

      Like

    • I did too, but I had the sense to keep it to myself. -.- Except one, on Quizilla, which I discovered recently and deleted as fast as my hot little hands could manage. OMG! The internet should not be allowed in the hands of children. Embarrassing yourself publicly is one thing. Globally? Really another!

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      • Sometimes I read back on the stories I wrote and can’t even understand it.

        Yes, global embarassment–but I guess we all have to start somewhere!

        …bad writing, though, is our temporary confidence booster

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  6. Jealousy, is such an evil emotion. I am prone to crying and having breakdowns because I’m surrounded by so many great writers and then there’s me, a person who can not finish a book to save her life.

    Really, sometimes I just want to crawl into a hole, especially since there are so many writers out there that have finished book(s) and are in the editing and revising stage.

    I hate being jealous. It’s such a horrible feeling. It’s like someone put a lit candle in your stomach or set free a jar of butterflies. It’s like you’re sitting on the ground, looking up at people with wings, wishing you could fly just once.

    I would like not to be jealous of anyone, but no matter how many times I try to tell myself that I am a good writer, that I can finish a book, that I can be great, there’s that other part of me telling me that I am not ready to be great, and that I can’t be. I try not to listen to that side but it gets hard.

    Being jealous is a weakness, but I’m glad to know that there are others out there who feel in some degree, the same way.

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    • I went hours a day in torment because I was so jealous.

      Pertaining to your frustration about being unable to finish a story…I don’t know if this’ll help, but I started writing when I was 14, abandoned every story I wrote (which is why I became infamous on FP and received several complaints for tis bad habit of mine), until I turned 18 which is when I started writing TRC.

      So, don’t worry, because write now I think you should just keep trying, but don’t frustrate yourself too much over it. Just keep practicing. And one day, you’ll find an inspiration, a story, and will write it beautifully.

      Trust me. I was probably worse than you. I wrote…likely over 20 stories that I never got past the first chapter of. I really did think I was a lost cause.

      Patience is the key to success, my friend.You already have the blessed talent to write very well (and at such an age!!) you now just need to find the story in you.

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  7. drtombibey

    They say a true friend is never jealous or envious. Heck, I hope you make a million bucks writing. If I only make a half mill, I won’t be one bit jealous, but happy for both of us.

    I figure there are so many folks in the world who don’t read now it could only be interpreted that as a community we writers must be making progress.

    Dr. B

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    • I like how you look at the bigger picture. Yes, we writers must look at ourselves as a member of a community.

      I hope to one day read your success story up on your blog. But I think you’ve already made something of your writing. I’m sure you’ve already influenced many of the people who visit your blog. I, personally, would rather greatly influence one person at least with my writing than make lots of money off a book people would read, enjoy, then forget.

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      • drtombibey

        Amen young lady. I told my agent I didn’t care if I sold three thousand or three million. My real reward was my friends I have found thru writing.

        Dr. B

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      • That’s wonderful! The things you write make people reflect on their own lives, which, I believe we really need to do. We’re always busy living our lives that at times we forget to pause and actually reflect on what sort of life we’re living

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  8. I understand. I feel jealous all the time. And then I feel guilty for feeling jealous. But it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

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  9. Noelle Pierce

    I’m a bit late to this one, but yes! I feel this way regularly on Authonomy…especially toward people who have an uncanny ability to write phrases that have a poetic turn or the fantasy writers that have unbelievable imaginations. I can barely come up with stories that take place in the real world, much less create a world of my own. Sometimes I’m glad writing isn’t my day job). But in the end, my story is my own and just as engrossing to me as one of Julia Quinn’s.

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    • Poetic turn in phrases. This is one of the reasons why I get jealous too.

      Ah, Julia Quinn…one of the queens of light-hearted HRs.

      Like

      • Noelle Pierce

        It even gets worse when I’m friends with a couple of them. Argh!!

        JQ…she’s brilliant, isn’t she? I only discovered her at Christmas this past year and proceeded to kick myself for waiting so long to read her as I devoured everything she had written thus far. Ooh…another blog idea. 😉 Take care!

        Like

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