Conference Challenge #4: Writer Jealousy and the Job Review

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

It’s time for this week’s challenge that is meant to inspire, motivate, and get you ready for our Lucky 13: Make 2013 Your Year conference in September! Have you missed our previous ones and want to jump in? Awesome, here’s the links:

Challenge #1: Two Friends and a Kitchen Table

Challenge #2: Victimize a Villain

Challenge #3: Conflict–Can’t live with it, can’t write without it

Not sure of the rules? Here’s the quick version: For eight weeks, we post a challenge on Wednesday. Complete either the writing or illustrating exercise and then let us know you finished it by posting a comment. (Sharing your work is optional.) The more challenges you do … the more chances you have to win one of our five yummy prize baskets. A minimum of four completed challenges gets you a small prize.

For the full version, go to the end of Challenge #2.

Until then, enough hoo-ha. Let’s get to today’s topic: WRITER JEALOUSY.

I’ve been wanting to discuss this for a while now, after someone anonymously expressed on a conference evaluation form an interest in learning how to deal with jealousy when a member of a critique group gets published before they do.

Okay.

If my eternally polite and proper grandmother was still alive, her answer might be, “Now, now, shouldn’t you be happy for your friend’s success, dear?”

Grannie, please.

Of course they’re happy. We’re all happy when our friends succeed. But since it’s more my style to be honest over proper … guess what my anonymous friend? You’re not the only one who’s felt moments of writer jealousy.

I’ve felt them many, many times.

Of course, it goes without saying that I deeply, truly want the best of success for everyone. That’s why I write for this blog, that’s why I love helping newbies, and that’s why I urge, pester, and downright nag every conference attendee to get critiques!

Still.

Whenever I hear about a brilliant, clever, amazing book that’s just been sold, there’s a part of me who smacks my forehead and thinks, Damn, that’s GENIUS! why didn’t I think of that?

When I find out that my agent has acquired a new client, there’s a part of me who thinks horribly whiny thoughts such as, Oh my gosh, who is this new person invading my territory? What if my agent likes them more than me? What if they’re a better writer than I am? WHAT IF MY AGENT DUMPS ME FOR THEM???

And when I hear about fellow authors who had book debuts the same year as me but they have just sold, like, their twentieth novel while I’m still working on book three, there’s a part of me who screams, “Son of  a … are you kidding me, another three-book, six-figure deal??? @*%^$#&!!!

Should I be proud of these emotions?

Well, no.

But there’s a very good reason why I have them.

Because I’m human!

You’re human, too, my dear anonymous friend! You’re human and sometimes, we humans think things we shouldn’t. It’s natural. And seriously, if we never allowed ourselves to feel improper emotions if only for a moment, how could we get into the minds of our antagonists? Yeah. Think about that one for a second.

However.

If you allow yourself to hold on to those negative, jealous emotions for too long, they will cause a problem. They will cripple your creativity. Hamper your own success. Keep you in a fog of self-doubt and fear.

See, here’s my thoughts on the writing life.

There’s no finish line.

There’s no secret club that debut novelists get to join, where your membership card makes all your problems *poof * simply disappear and you blissfully spend your remaining years *tra-la-la* writing book after book after book without any more hardships.

Trust me. There’s no such club.

Don’t I know it.

Instead, writing is a journey. A crazy, hard journey that might drive you insane but will fulfill you in ways you’ve never expected. A journey that is full of steps taken on your own individual path … steps forward, steps backward, to the side, and forward again. And every one of our paths are completely different from each other’s, so it’s not fair to doubt yourself when a critique partner takes a certain step before you do, such as signing with an agent or selling a book.

Why?

Because next year, you might be taking the same step. Heck, you might be taking three steps.

EVERYONE’S writing journey is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, feelings of crossing finished lines only to be thrown right back to the starting point. So while it’s completely normal to experience temporary moments of jealousy over another writer’s success … after all, we are human … please don’t allow those momentary feelings to turn into a long-term handicap. Because really, you can’t control whether your critique partner gets an agent or sells a book before you do. You can’t control an editor’s decision to buy your book or for an agent to sign you. In this crazy business, there is only one thing you can control:

Your own work habits.

And not to sound naggish or anything, but nobody should hold on to jealous feelings over someone else’s success unless they’re doing every thing they can to improve their own career. In order to succeed, we all must continually ask ourselves:

Am I dedicating enough hours to writing or is procrastination and my to-do list taking over?
Am I spending more time on social media than on my manuscript?
Have I been reading enough?
Have I been taking the time to hone my skills, and improve my craft?
What are other writers doing to improve their career?
And most importantly, what can I do to improve mine?

Which brings us to today’s challenge for both writers and illustrators.

CONFERENCE CHALLENGE #4: GIVE YOURSELF A JOB REVIEW

Summer is nearing its end and the kiddies are heading back to school, so the timing is perfect for this exercise, since autumn is a time of crisp, blank paper, new pens, fresh beginnings, and renewed work goals. And as writers and illustrators, our work is our business and we’re the boss of our business, right?

Right.

So.

As the boss and owner of your business, how would you rate the performance of your main employee … you?  Is this employee doing everything they can to ensure your business’s success … or are they holding you down?

To find out, today’s challenge exercise is to give yourself a brutally honest Annual Job Review, just like a boss might do. Take out a piece of paper and write your business name across the top. (Mine is BOOKS BY BOWERS, INC. :))

Now, rate yourself on a scale of one to ten (ten being the best) in the following areas, and provide explanations for that grade:

Work Ethic

Punctuality

Dedication

Productivity

Overall Job Performance

If you’d like, create more review questions asked from a boss’s perspective or use the above questions as inspiration. Once you’re finished, average out your ratings for a total score.

Is it bad? That’s okay, no worries, mate. The point of this exercise is not to make you feel crappy. Nope, it’s to encourage you to evaluate your goals and improve work habits so you will continue to step forward, not backward. So at the bottom of your review, write:

“This employee might have stumbled lately, but we continue to believe in their talent and potential and consider them a valuable asset.”

Why? Because I surely do. 🙂

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About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, and blogger at As The Eraser Burns, Joyful Miles, and Write, Run, Rejoice. In the past, she's been a waitress, telemarketer, cook, real estate agent, and during her college days, a costumed character at holiday parades. (Memories of being terrorized as a candy cane still haunt her at night.) At the age of thirty, she pursued her dream of being a writer. Her first novel, Beauty Shop for Rent, a “Steel Magnolias for teens,” was inspired by a rusted sign by a charming old house, and now, she can honestly say that writing is a thousand times more rewarding than being a candy cane!
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6 Responses to Conference Challenge #4: Writer Jealousy and the Job Review

  1. Summer B says:

    Annual Job Review

    Company: Reading, Writing, and Reaching for Chocolate

    Work Ethic: 6 Over the past few weeks other projects have taken precedent and employee has not put in the extra effort needed to still get their hours in.

    Punctuality: 7 Employee has arrived when scheduled and kept most dates.

    Dedication: 8 Even when priorities change, and family events get in the way, employee is always working on new ideas, learning new things, research and development and using lunch breaks from her day job to write. Even when that means not tasting her food at all.

    Productivity: 7 Some of this employees best work has come out of the last two months even with the limited amount of time that summer break offers. Whether it means writing ideas on her arm because she is in the car waiting to pick up a child or writing until her contacts dry out late at night, once the employee has a solid concept to work with they are relentless as a badger.

    Overall Job Performance:
    Room for improvement but overall we are very happy with the work this employee is producing, especially of late. Improvement is seen each month and we are happy that the employee responds well to critiques and criticisms and has a willingness to tear down and start again when needed. This employee deserves a 100% raise and a shiny gold star.

  2. Finished Challenge #4!! I’m not going to include it … it’s just too embarrassing. 😉

  3. Larissa says:

    Okay- I am punctual and dedicated, even if I’ve let library work obligations slow my writing productivity this summer. Thanks for the challenge. It made me see that balancing my schedule is my number one goal:)

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