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Spin Your Writer’s Jealousy Into Motivation: Advice I give my teenager is good for me too.


Have you ever seen a book receive a publishing deal or great reviews and wondered why that writer and not you? Or do you question how some people make money from their writing and you can’t even buy your friend a coffee from your profits?

When jealousy strikes, it’s painful. Sometimes, if we are not careful can paralyze us from the words that we need to write.

I have been writing and studying writing for 25 years. Many of my writing dreams have not come to fruition; some have. Much of the time, it appears success comes to others more easily, more abundantly, and with less effort than it does to me.

Feeling like a petulant teen.

Recently, I saw a book cover on a billboard. It was in Times Square in New York City. I have read the book that was displayed on a humongous neon sign. I am familiar with the author and her story. My first thought was damn, why her novel and not mine? Truly believing my work to be as good and worthy. I was reminded of a quote by Margaret Atwood:

“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.” — Margaret Atwood

When I allow myself to wallow in these feelings of why them and not me, I am not fired up about writing. These negative feelings zap my energy.

Jealousy is often a slayer of our motivation and productivity.

So, I decided to take it on by using the advice I give my teenage daughter when she comes home upset about feeling jealous.

Jealousy is easier to spot in other people.

My 13-year-old daughter came home from school sharing how all her girlfriends have heavy straight hair. She asked, “Why is my hair always frizzy?” She told me about her soccer friend who can perform an almost perfect corner kick, while she cannot. “Will I ever be as good?”

On another day, she asked, “Why do I have to work for my grades and the ‘smart girls’ don’t?”

We have these talks in the car in our driveway after school, and I wrap my arms around her and say, “But you have…, and you are…, you are not them, but you are amazing.”

Our talks don’t stop there.

Advice I give my teen about jealousy.

These conversations are ongoing. Maybe it is simply the age. I want her to continue to talk to me while also helping her to feel confident about her gifts, her place in the world.

These are my suggestions for her.

1. Acknowledge the feelings.

She is sometimes reluctant to do this because she “shouldn’t” feel this way about a friend or teammate. I tell her there is nothing wrong with allowing feelings and thoughts to come. There is nothing wrong with her or bad in her if she admires another trait in someone else. Feelings are neutral, how you act on those feelings is a different story.

2. Look closely at the trait, skill, or accolade that brings on feelings of jealousy.

If it is a physical trait like hair texture and color, acknowledge that you find it lovely. I remind her that beauty comes in many different colors, shapes, sizes, and textures.

If it is a skill, plan to practice more if it is something you desire. If it is a higher grade, I recommend studying more. If she thinks she needs a math tutor, we can find one.

3. Admire another’s gifts while accepting yours.

Just because one girl is beautiful, smart, talented, athletic doesn’t take anything from her beauty, talents, or gifts. She is her version of amazing. You be yours.

My dreams and work belong to me.

After I have bouts of jealousy over another writer’s work and successes, I remind myself that her work is not mine. My stories, articles, and novels are mine alone. Yes, I can take the necessary steps to get the work out into readers’ hands, but I only have so much control over the success of my stories.

And let me tell you, I dream big. I have worked for my dreams. I have been to college. I have attended numerous writing retreats and conferences. I have paid for editors and given thousands of hours to my writing, learning the craft of story, of novel writing. All my dreams come with a plan.

Your Take away.

If you are feeling jealous of another writer’s work and success, here are three solid steps for you to take.

  1. Acknowledge the feeling.

  2. Question yourself about what the writer has that you want. Plan to reach your goal.

  3. Do your best to be supportive of others’ work. Write a great review. Comment on someone’s story. Maybe send a thank you note.

  4. Set an hour aside as soon as possible and write.

The best anecdote for jealousy in writing is writing. This is where you will connect with what you have to say and why you want to be a writer. This is where you will spin jealousy into motivation.

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