by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep
You’re writing along, la-de-da-de-dah, all happiness and sunshine. Life is good. Unicorns are romping. Your manuscript is quite possibly one of the best you’ve ever written.
Then you get an email from an author buddy. They just landed a $20k book deal. At first, you’re high-fivin’ and fist-bumpin’ and even tossing in a hip-check for congratulations.
But after the celebratory pat on the back for your buddy, two ugly demons perch on each side, right there on your shoulders, talons drawing blood. Their names? Jealousy and doubt.
THE JEALOUSY DEMON
Sure, you’re truly delighted your buddy met with success . . . for like five minutes. That feeling quickly morphs into “Hey! Why don’t I get a contract like that?” and suddenly you’re not just a pretty shade of spring green, you’re drowning in nasty pea-soup sludge of envy. I don’t care how righteous you are. You will always feel at least a twinge of why-wasn’t-it-me syndrome.
But here’s the deal . . . open up your hands and let it go as quickly as it came. You can’t help being tempted by jealousy but you can help wallowing in it. I’ve met some bitter writers in my time, and not one of them has moved on to bigger writing contracts because they’ve not moved past the jealousy.
THE DOUBT DEMON
Shortly following envy, another poisonous gas fills your nostrils. Doubt. You wonder if your writing is a heap of literary hoo-haw. You wonder if you should just quit. You wonder if you shouldn’t just take a nap on the nearest railroad tracks and end it all. Okay, so maybe not that drastic, but you do begin to think your writing must not be as good as Author X’s because clearly he landed a contract with his sweet writing skills and you didn’t.
But here’s the deal . . . first, acknowledge that this feeling is completely and totally normal, and that it’s okay. This is what keeps a writer humble. But going overboard and berating yourself, your heritage, doubting whether you can even pen a proper suicide note and end it all is NOT okay. You write like you. You do not write like Author X. If X is what the market happens to be buying currently, guess what? That will change. Maybe not next year, or maybe even in five, but it will change. And that will give you the time you need to bone up on your writerly skills and kick your writing up a notch.
So go ahead and Snoopy dance with your writerly buddies, own the negative feelings that are sure to follow, then kick jealousy and doubt to the curb and get back to honing your skills.