Saturday, January 25, 2014

Five Tips For Overcoming Jealousy

Recently, I've joined several online writing communities, comprised of Teenagers Who Are Serious About Writing. It's been really cool to read their writing, see how other creative people approach their work, etc. Lately, though, it's been getting to me.

It's not that they're shallow or self-absorbed or vindictive, from what I can tell. It's that their writing is consistently better than mine, in a way that mine simply doesn't match up. I love seeing them be successful, because who doesn't love other young artists doing awesome things and changing the world? At the same time, I wish I was that successful. Frankly, as a competitive, Type-A person, this stings.

Granted, I'm comparing myself to the people who are National Poets, the people who are Finalists in YoungArts (which means that out of 10,000 applicants, they're the top 1.5%), the people who start really cool literary magazines. They've been published in real literary magazines, (probably) been writing since birth, and been accepted to top universities because of their writing prowess. Obviously, these peers are a select few, and I know that most writers aren't up to this skill level at this age. However, I'm still jealous about how they seem to be doing all of these really amazing things, and I'm not.

The Internet has exacerbated this so that if you choose to, you can surround yourself with the highest-achieving, most mind-blowingly awesome writers. This is fantastic, but it can feel alienating when it seems like everyone else is getting traditionally published at the age of sixteen or has a literary agent or has, at least, finished more than one draft of a novel. This has made me feel inadequate, although at least I've kept writing.

In case you couldn't tell, this has been a personal struggle for me lately, so here are five tips about overcoming writer-jealousy (at least temporarily):

Congratulate the people you're envying. I'm sure that they'd like to know that you appreciate their work, since everyone likes compliments. Plus, as a young artist, you know that it feels like your voice isn't heard.

2. Do something different. Maybe paint, or take a walk, or scuba dive (okay, maybe not that last one). Try to stop focusing on the negative aspects of your work and take a break for a bit. It'll help, I promise.

3. Remember that not everyone is The Most Amazing and Prolific Novelist and Poet Goddess Ever by the age of eighteen. It's awesome if you are, and you're going to keep working on your craft, but if you aren't, it really shouldn't be the end of the world.

4. Come back to your writing. Again, you could try something different. Perhaps rhyming if you're into free-verse, or nonfiction if you mainly write poetry. I've written before about how poetry has helped me, even though I hadn't really thought of it as something I'd like, or something that I'd be good at.

5. Write a letter to yourself reminding yourself that you're more than your writing and your insecurities. Last night, I was really feeling the toll of this deluge of teenage writers doing amazing things I haven't done, and so I wrote myself a letter, on paper. Old-school, I know. I basically reminded myself that I'm still a good person, no matter what my literary accolades are, and that I write because I love writing, not out of sheer competitiveness.

Any tips I missed? How do you deal with jealousy so it doesn't cripple your work?


  1. Oh gosh. I TOTALLY hear you. This is one of the biggest things I struggle with...I'm not even kidding. I spend so much time comparing myself to other writers... It's kind of a enthusiasm sucking trap, but, like you said, the Internet can make it seem like there's SO many super successful people out there and that you're one of the few that suck. (Thanks for the link, there, too. ;) I'm blushing.) But HONESTLY, I compare myself to everyone's who's published at 16. Who's won awards. Who's publishing their first drafts and they're absolutely amazing. And I admit most of my coping mechanisms involve: avoid thinking about it. But I love your list, too.

    1. The weird thing is that no one talks about it. I mean, I haven't heard anyone talk about jealousy, except in terms of their characters. It's understandable, since being consumed with jealousy isn't exactly nice, but if we don't talk about it, it just seems like we're all alone and we're the only dastardly ones who secretly feel like they're never good enough, which is most likely unaccurate.

      Avoiding thinking about it is a good idea, which I would do if I could. For me, even though I tell myself I should stop being jealous of their success, I get more infatuated with the awesome work they're doing. That makes me really happy, but then kinda sad when I remember that it's not *my* work.

      It seems like jealousy hurts more with writing because it's such a person thing, and also inherently competitive, what with agents and publishing houses and all that. Maybe I'll get used to it soon. (Okay, realistically, I don't see that happening. Hey, a girl can always dream, right? [As long as it ends with her getting a deal with the big Six.]) It seems like the closer you get to "success", the more you notice other people who are more successful.

    2. *Inaccurate. My computer wasn't letting me correct it.

      I know that logically, I'm not the worst. I've read completely awful writing from other teens, and while I'm not fantastic, I think I'm somewhere in the middle. It seems like being in the middle hurts even more, though, because you know that you're not awful, but you also know that you're far from being the best.

  2. Well, this is.. Eerily accurate to my life and expressed ten times better on paper (or..web..type..words..) than I could ever hope to even organize in my mind.. Wow! I suppose I've always felt that kind of jealousy for some of my more linguistically- inclined peers, but I've never really.. Thought about it. Whew.. That sounds really lame. Though I suppose my struggle has been almost the opposite - I've been told by teachers, friends, a couple strangers, that I am a good writer, buut.. I personally don't see it. To the point where I have been offered a couple really good opportunities involving writing and either have turned them down or felt like I should have because other people I've met are better writers. I don't envy them so much as.. I'd like the learn from them. But being incredibly stubborn doesn't seem to help with that, which often leads to me simply arriving at a confused impass.

    By the way, love the blog. I saw you post some really intelligent things in the Teen Ink forums and had to say how awesome you are. Sorry if that's weird!

    1. I've been told by others that my writing is good as well, which actually made me start writing originally, though since then I've sought other, less-biased forms of validation.

      Also, thank you for finally acknowledging my awesomeness. :) I haven't updated my TI profile for months, and basically forgot the link was still there. I'm glad you'e enjoying my writing!

  3. I agree with everyone here.

    I am super and I mean SUPER competitive. Even with the most stupid things I feel like I should strive to be the best. I embarrass myself a lot with this trait. And when I go around looking at other's blogs and their writing then looking back at mine, I get jealous. How come they are awesome writers and I'm not? I like to ask, but I always remember that God made me, me, not them. :)

    Sorry Cait. I promise I'm not following you. But I seem to see you everywhere. :P In cyber-space anyways.

    I like the blog, BTW. :)

    1. Well, I'm obviously quite competitive. The good thing is it can bring the best out in us as long as we harness it. The bad news? I have no idea as to how I do that.

      I'm glad you like my blog!

  4. Hi Katia :D
    I really appreciate you writing this down ~ I think it's great because it's just the things that are true. I mean, everybody compares theirself with a famous writer - or not? Well, I often do so. But I'm glad I do because it inspires me to go on and helps me along writing. I love writing and reading. I'd love to read more of your blog for I think you very sympathic. I'm sorry I can't tell you really anything about me and my blog because I write it in German but, all right.
    GOSH, OMG, this blog is so amazing and you write it so beautiful!!! Thank you for investigating so much time in it - well, as youcan see by all the comments, Iit works out quite well.


Thanks for visiting my blog, A Writer Girl! Comments are totally appreciated, and if you have constructive criticism, I'll welcome that too. Thanks so much for your input.