Monday, October 8, 2018

Envy or Individuality

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

The most dangerous game you can play as a writer is comparing your career to other writers. The following three reasons show the futility behind the envy that creeps into your heart and threatens to hold you back. To counterweight the bad, we’ll glance at three ways to flaunt your individuality.


1. Writing journeys vary. Your unique experience is yours alone, and your trials and circumstances show in your work, creating an inimitable work of passion that only one person could create—you.

Comparisons, then, are completely fruitless, for if experience is different, then the outcomes must be different. Of course you will have a different amount of fans, a distinctive book cover that doesn’t look like theirs, a different plotline. It’s impossible to have the same, because you’re not the same person. That would just be creepy, and similar to bad utopian societies I’ve read about.

2. Readers vary and need difference in work. Getting to know a new author is a pleasure. You might be that new author. E
nvy might make you write like someone else because you want to be like them. Be a distinct voice. 

Also, envying another writer’s success shows in your writing as a lack of confidence. Jealousy makes it easy to let negativity flow from your tongue or from your fingers and onto the page. 

3. No author I know considers themselves a success. Not even the Pulitzer Prize winner. However, other writers envy your level of success. This Ping-Pong tournament could last forever. Let it stop with you. Be an example to other writers and avoid envy.


If you chose to glance at another author to envy their work and their following, you’re missing out on the focus that builds your own portfolio. So, stop it. But that’s far easier said than done. Focus on these three tips to break the envy cycle.

1. Be friends with other writers, not their colleagues. Ignore their work when you can. With my friends, we all have our own careers, and while I respect their work, we’re not competing. We’re talking, enjoying each other’s company.

2. Be so focused on bettering yourself, you won’t have time for envy. I believe this thought comes from the Bible. Be so focused on your search for God's character, you've no time for jealousy. 

One philosopher I've read sequestered himself from others in his field because they influenced him, and he needed to break from their subjective mindsets. He worked in a stone tower and only emerged when he'd finished his book.  He'd learned from other careers, but didn't envy them. He focused on his own work. Build that stone tower in your mind. 

3. Action! Pay attention to what's working for someone that sparks your jealousy, and make that thing yours. If they're doing great things on twitter, but you love Facebook, do great things on Facebook. Make it yours! 
Ask how they're getting good book contracts instead of wishing you had one. Then shake your head on how they did it, and do it your way. Take action!

This is about your story, your experience, your value—which is considerable. Don’t squander it by envying others. The following references lead to a few of the many Bible verses about envy that help put jealousy’s consequences into perspective. Take great pains to focus on you, your own journey with God, your own skills and value. Your fans will thank you for your efforts!

James 3:16. James 4:2-3. Proverbs 14:30. Proverbs 27:4. Ecclesiastes 4:4. Song of Solomon 8:6. Job 5:2. Galatians 5:26. 1 Corinthians 13:4. Romans 13:13. Matthew 27:18

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at