Creative jealousy is something that can strike a writer at any stage of his or her career. It can hit anyone, but creative people seem to be especially prone to it. Art (of all kinds) comes from deep within. So, it’s easy to become insecure when you see other people “soaring ahead,” while you’re sitting in front of your computer staring at a shitty first draft or struggling with writer’s block.
You know this feeling is counterproductive, but you can’t seem to help it. I’m here to let you know that you can help it. With practice, we can train our minds and manage our emotions. As writers, we want all the drama to appear on the page, not in our heads. Here are five things we can do to kick creative jealousy to the curb:
- Practice self-care. Daily, not sporadically. Meditate, exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. You cannot get mileage out of a car with dirty fuel or no oil. Take care of your body and mind, and they will take care of you. You can’t afford to blow this advice off. At birth, you’re only given one body, one mind. That’s it. Everybody has time to meditate for 5 minutes and eat quality food. Exercise can be as simple as 10 minutes of calisthenics or a walk around the block. Sleep is trickier. But, a little known fact is that the more you meditate, the less sleep you eventually need. But, regardless, sleep debts must be paid. If you don’t get proper rest, the deficit will show up in other ways – shoddy work, short tempers, belly fat, and diminishing returns. Take good care of yourself.
- Realize that social media is a “Best Of” version of that person’s life. Most sane people do not post about how terrible their lives are, or how poorly their careers are going. People post what they’re proud of, what they’re interested in, and what they want others to see. The only way to really know how someone is doing is to personally follow them around 24/7. A better use of your time, however, is to view other people’s websites and timelines like movie trailers. Have you ever seen a great trailer for a sucky movie? Me too. Keep that in mind.
- Create, don’t consume. If you are a creative person, your goal is to make content for others to enjoy, not sit on the internet worrying about what other writers are doing. Writers need to read, of course, but following other people’s careers online is not necessary. If looking at someone else’s work is part of your research, that’s fine. But if you struggle with jealousy, work on your own stuff before you look at what others in your field are doing. Even if what you’ve made is not wonderful, it’s yours. Creating your own stuff shows you that you’re moving in the right direction. Anyone can be a critic, and most people are. Few people, however, have what it takes to keep grinding out material year in and year out. Be one of those people.
- Channel your jealousy. Rather than focus on how much better someone else is doing than you, be mindful of how destructive that negative energy is. Instead, put yourself in their shoes. Think how happy they must be to have achieved x,y, and z. Be happy for them. Or, if you can’t manage happiness, go for imitation. Learn from them. Find out what they’re doing right. Befriend them, if you can. Offer to help them in some way. It is said that we are the sum total of the 5 people we spend the most time around. So, it can only help you to be nice to people who are where you want to be.
- Appreciate the Self. Realize that each human (including you) is unique, with a special set of pros and cons. No other person has exactly the same package to offer as you do. Get rid of the scarcity mentality – the idea that there’s only so much work out there, and you have to claw and scratch, and step on other people to get ahead. That old idea has never been less true. New distribution outlets have expanded our opportunities. Only you can do what you do, the way you do it.
No one ever knows what will be “in” at any given time. So, be yourself. Make what you make and do it well. And don’t worry about what other people are doing. Besides, they’re probably worrying about what you’re doing.
There’s power and magic in you. Focus on that, and let the world see you shine.
Peace and love,