Jealous of other authors? Is that a bad thing?

We are at the letter J in our series on “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing

If you’ve read the previous posts on the subject, you’ll recall that the eight of us – Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Paromita Goswami, Adite Banerjie, Ruchi Singh, Sudesna Ghosh, Saiswaroopa Iyer and I – are blogging on a myriad of writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week.

This week I’m going to talk about jealousy as it applies to authors.

Jealousy, as per Wikipedia “refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a comparator, a rival, or a competitor.”

Do writers experience “insecurity, fear, concern”?
Sure they do, but it is usually over wondering if anybody is going to read their work or like their stories or come back for more.

Do writers experience “insecurity, fear, concern”…in reference to a comparator, a rival, or a competitor?
I hate to say ‘hell, yes’, but I’m afraid it is true, so…Hell, yes!

The evidence that the green-eyed monster lurks in writing circles comes from the shenanigans that accompany literary contests where winners are declared based on the number of times the book has been downloaded and the number of positive reviews they’ve garnered.

The following image is a screenshot of a facebook post by a well-respected blogger who was appalled to receive an offer of the nefarious kind.


When authors start paying for downloads and reviews of one’s own books, and then offer money to bloggers and readers for posting deeply “deeply negative reviews” of other’s books, this is a sure sign of insecurity.

Just because there are vicious and deeply insecure writers out there, does not mean that jealousy is necessarily a bad thing. If one were to think of it as ‘literary envy’ instead of as ugly, toxic, painful jealously, it can serve a useful purpose.

It can make you want to be a better writer than you are already. It can make you want to connect with others who write in your genre – thus broadening your network of support and learning.

If you do ever feel green – and you will because you’re human after all – then here’s what you could do:

  1. Smile.
    Not only because you’ve just confirmed that you’re human, but also because stretching those muscles prompts you to rearrange your emotions to match the smile.
  2. Write something nice ‘about’ or ‘to’ the subject of your envy. Share in her success and maybe the success fairy will visit you too. Believe it! If nothing else, being generous in the face of all the greenness invading your soul will make you like yourself a lot more.
  3. Read the work of the people you envy. You might find something about their writing style or their character development or dialogue delivery to inspire you.
  4. Avoid negative authors who make you feel bad about yourself – even if they do this indirectly by bragging about their accomplishments (real or imagined) and their reviews (organic or paid for, who knows?).
  5. Find a team of writer people, and non-writer people, and dogs, and cats who make you feel good and optimistic and positive and stick to them like glue. If, on the other hand, you do better alone, prefering to write in isolation, do remember to pop up once in a while to absorb the positive vibes of a supportive group.
  6. Remind yourself that success is transient – it’s here today, gone tomorrow, so there’s little point in worrying endlessly about it. Besides, any day could be your day, so work away at making it happen.
  7. No two writers are the same. Even if you envy another’s writing style, find your own niche through trying, and trying again. Keep at it. Hard work – and learning as you go – always pays. Be patient.

Lots of love and luck!

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