Green With Envy?


The first time I wrote this article I pulled no punches. The second time I wrote it, I went softer. Now, as a creativity coach, I’m combining the two philosophies. As an author myself I’ve experienced pretty much everything other authors have experienced with regards to disappointments and envy. I never speak from a lofty peak. I’m always down in the trenches discovering how it feels with you. All creative people have those days where creativity just isn’t flowing and the rest of life is kicking us in the pants. I hope I can give you some ideas on how to extinguish a number one killer of creativity. Envy.

Which Shade of Green Are You?

No one wants to admit it, but everyone feels a twinge of envy from time to time in their lives. Authors write about jealousy in their novels, an emotion no one admits feeling, yet everyone has felt. Talking about it is almost taboo. I’m adventurous these days, though, so indulge me a moment. This is an “if the shoe fits” article, so if you’re already a positive, upbeat person with your eyes on the goals in your life, then as they say in Australia, goodonya. (No, I’m not Australian, I just like that word.)

Each writer, at some point in his/her career, envies another author’s success and the good fortune coming that person’s way. Envy can motivate you to do a better job next time, to keep on writing, to accomplish your best work ever. Extreme envy or jealousy can eat away at you until the damage is done, your creativity is shot, and you don’t realize it until it’s too late.

All Those Negative Thoughts Accumulate, You Know

Okay, sit down and think hard right now. Have you ever known a writer who isn’t a great person and yet has phenomenal success? Deep inside, based on intuition or on actual evidence, you believe this person isn’t very nice personally and professionally. Finally, one day the inevitable happens. The Monstrous Author receives an ugly review or her books don’t sell well. Is it karma? Could be. Ah, here it comes. You suddenly feel a rush of deep satisfaction when that author isn’t doing well. Uh-oh. You’re basking in her lack of success. For a minute, you let the satisfaction waft over you, and then perhaps you feel self-disgust at enjoying the person’s misfortune. Still…the bad author got what she deserved, right?

Think hard again. Have you ever known a writer who is kind and respectful to everyone and has phenomenal success? Of course. Deep inside, based on the evidence you’ve seen, you know this person is a pearl. Yet part of you wonders why you don’t have quite so many book sales or you don’t always get triple five plus reviews, or people aren’t slobbering over your novels at a book signing. Instead of looking at what you need to change in yourself, you begrudge the good author her success and whatever she’d done to accomplish that achievement. One day the inevitable happens. The Good Author gets an ugly review or her books don’t sell well. Is it karma? You dunno. Ah, here it comes. You suddenly feel a rush of satisfaction the pearl is no longer at the top of the stack.

Do you see what’s happened here? It doesn’t matter whether writer A is rotten and writer B is an angel, you’re still receiving a rush out of their bad luck. You’re concentrating on the fortune or misfortune of others, and not on what you need to do/change/be to satisfy your goals and expectations. But, wait. You, too, can slay the green monster. You can pull up your bootstraps and march forward to triumph knowing you peddled there on your own steam.

How to Fugetaboutit

Realize that downbeat thoughts get you nowhere. Put the negative out there, and you will receive it right back. Probably in the form of an astronomical, obnoxious lemon cream pie in the face.

This is the absolute most important point: YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR FATE. All positive steps you take toward writing, whether it be jamming in another page of writing in today, saying positive things about others, planning what you can do to further your career (without stepping on anyone to get there) will produce more excellent outcomes for you.

One Universal Truth needs no explanation: Do Nothing and Nothing Will Happen.

Work with what you can do and resist whining about what you can’t do. (This isn’t to say that all creative people don’t have those times where venting to a friend is absolutely a good thing to do. Sometimes you just have to let the steam out.)

Dump your obsession with how Susie Lou Sweet or Minnie The Mouth are doing in their careers. It doesn’t matter. Wish them the best and compliment them when they do well.

There will always be someone who sells more books and/or makes more money than you, whether you like it or not. Not liking it doesn’t change a thing. The less you fixate on other authors’ successes and concentrate on your endeavors, the more achievement comes to you.

Wallowing in your career misfortunes gets you nothing. Determination to climb from the quicksand and move forward is the best policy. Dozens of times I’ve heard authors who’ve had a devastating career event say, “I’ll never write again.” Why? Because whatever they’ve experienced hurts like hell. Fear motivates them to avoid more pain. But a creative life is filled with the possibility of disappointment. The question becomes do you want to create? If you do, you must get back up on your feet and move forward and create.

There’s So Much More!

The tips above seem excessively simple. They are. In the space I allotted for this article, I couldn’t give you an in depth rundown. Hopefully, this short piece will provide food for thought and maybe a boost to drive you forward with your career. Remain focused on the best you can do. All the rest…FUGETABOUTIT!

Copyright Denise A. Agnew

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