Tip #14 in the “Art of War for Writers” from James Scott Bell is: “Turn envy into energy.”
Let’s face it. We’ve all fallen for it. We see “success” happen to another person, and suddenly we’re like Luke, Leia and Han trapped in the garbage chute – wallowing in some really dark and smelly emotions. Gore Vidal famously said, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.”
Envy has multiple sides, Bell writes. Believe it or not, there’s a good side to envy. The emotion proves that we care about our art. We need passion or what’s the point? The problem though is that passion is so easily turned to the dark side (since we’re channeling Star Wars).
The negative side to envy becomes self-defeating, in that it keeps us from writing. Or worse, it can become outright poisonous, where our creativity becomes toxic to everyone it touches (I think of Salieri vs. Mozart, as depicted in the film Amadeus.)
Bell’s advice is to let yourself sulk for no more than an hour, then get back to writing.
If that seems too difficult, break open your Christian toolbox for we have multiple resources there for sanding down our inflamed egos. Like reminding ourselves that we create first for an “Audience of One”. Or go straight at the envy and ask the Lord to teach you how to be glad for a person when life smiles on them.
What do you do when jealousy starts to sour your heart?