The mask of jealousy

Jealousy is a mask for fear

If I have one more non-writer friend ask me, ’Why didn’t you write Fifty Shades of Grey?’ I’ll scream.  My writing colleagues wouldn’t think of asking me that question because we all know that even if any one of us had written that trilogy, we could just as easily have sunk into obscurity.

Success of that nature is unpredictable – there’s hard work involved, but there’s also timing, market demand, publicity and sheer good luck. By all accounts the success of the book has been a testament to the power of social media marketing.

Am I jealous? Of course not, such a petty emotion is beneath me.

Oh, all right, just a bit.

Jealousy is seen as a negative emotion, that can consume you and make you view the world  through a lens clouded with bitterness and resentment. But only if you let it. We’re only human and we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t admit to an occasional feeling of jealousy.

In her book The Artists Way Julia Cameron says, ‘jealousy always masks for fear. Fear that we’re not able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours.’

As writers we often experience it when a previously unknown author suddenly makes the big time. ‘Why them?’ you think. ‘My novel is better than theirs.’

Or a friend wins a prize in a  short story competition and while you’re smiling your congratulations you’re thinking, ‘I’ve been writing longer than her – I deserve it more.’

But the good news is that you can turn a negative into a positive and make jealousy work for you. Here’s how:

1. Don’t deny your jealous feelings. Talk them over with a trusted friend or writing colleague. Just this act alone will help you to get the feeling off your chest and achieve some perspective.

2. If the person you’re jealous of is someone you know, take a deep breath and force yourself to be warm and sincere in your congratulations. It sounds like a contradiction in terms but you’ll feel better about yourself for not succumbing to your first impulse. And think of the future – when you achieve success, won’t you enjoy their reciprocal  congratulations?

3. Work out what it is you’re jealous of. Is it their fame and recognition?  Or the fact that what they’ve written is really good? (How often have I read a book and thought, ‘what a great idea, I wish I’d thought of that’).

You don’t have a lot of control over the first, but you do over the second. Use it as a tool to review your goals and boost your motivation to get on and do it.

4. Recognise that very few people achieve success without a lot of hard work. The author who achieves ‘overnight success’ has usually been toiling away in obscurity for years. Even if you don’t think much of the literary merit of ‘Fifty Shades,’ a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into writing that trilogy.

5. Remind yourself that their success doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful too. There’s room in the world for an abundance of success.

And if all of that sounds far too sensible and logical, try these tips:

6. Indulge in a marathon session of self-pity, with the help of a few wines and a stockpile of chocolate, and after a couple of days you’ll be so sick of yourself you’ll dry out and get back to work with  renewed vigour


7.  Pin up a photo of the offending person on the wall and throw darts at it.

How have you overcome jealousy? Has it spurred you on to greater success? I’d love to hear how you did it.




About the Author Robin Storey

Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.

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