How to Deal with “Writer Envy”

How to deal with “writer envy”?  The solution is journaling, of course!

Jealousy and envy are closely related. Envy is the yearning for what others have, be it a best-selling book, or the ability to write well. Jealousy is a fear that someone can be taken from you, or you can never possess or belong to a particular person. No matter who or what triggers the emotion, the way to deal with it is to let yourself move through all the permutations of the feeling.

This means finding the location in your body where you are experiencing envy or jealousy. Breathe through the spot where the feeling originates. Chances are, the feeling will spread out, move around, possibly intensify, and eventually, abate. You may need to cry, punch something, yell … then grab your journal and write! Your journal is where you hash out unconscious material. Take what you’ve stirred up, and turn it into subject matter, anecdotal material, self-disclosure stories to inspire and/or comfort others, and, if you’re writing fiction, characters, characters and more characters.

There are all sorts of trite sayings like, “The way to be happy is to stop comparing yourself to others” and “Compare and despair.”  They may be true, but journaling helps you explore the nuances and deeper meanings rather than prematurely squelch or avoid what you’re feeling. Explore the depths of envy and jealousy. It will produce rich material. And may well relieve you of the feeling.

Although I occasionally suffer from “writer envy,” for me, romantic jealousy has been more painful and problematic. Jealousy is a belief that I just lost a lover who can never be replaced. His smell, the way he walks, the cadence of his voice, the rumble in his chest when he laughs … these will never be mine again. I will have to live without him every day — the only one who is like this. Though agonizingly painful (thank God those days are over!) there is much more to be discovered here.

I offer envy and jealousy to you as a path of liberation … go in there and feel, discover, and write.

Also, read this blogpost on “writer envy” from Robin Black (author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This). She gives you plenty to consider.

Invitation: Invitation: Think of a writer you envy. Locate where in your body the feeling is arising and write from that spot, just as if there’s a mouth on that part of your body (heart, stomach, liver, belly button, wherever). Let it speak directly. Pour the words onto the page. You’ve emptied a place inside you that had been filled with toxic emotion, but is now an empty altar. Now, allow the writer you envy to pour confidence into your voice onto the altar.