On the contrary; it helps you to rise up, but only if you let it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we react to others who are talented and hardworking; others around us who achieve success right in front of our eyes.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness some of my fellow writers begin to gain traction, popularity and more success. I’m seeing them grow in real time and I can’t begin to tell you how exciting that is to watch.
But I’ve noticed negative reactions to this success. It’s always the same; writer is not that successful, people are generally supportive but then when the same writer starts to gain some semblance of success, the reactions evolve.
Actually, ‘evolve’ is a bad choice of words because that might suggest some sort of improvement. What I’m talking about here is the opposite. I’m talking about bitterness, sour grapes, condescension and sometimes outright nastiness. But why is it that some react in that way?
I think we have a tendency to compare others with ourselves and I think this is what leads to the outbursts and the spewing of negativity at people more successful than ourselves. We pick holes to bring that person down a peg or two because somehow that makes us feel less inadequate in comparison.
Have you ever heard that voice inside your head that says:
“Their work isn’t that great; my work is just as good. It’s not fair.”?
That’s the voice that makes you want to pick holes, to find tiny errors in their work to make yourself feel superior. You might feel less of a failure if you can find failure in their success. That’s the same voice that prevents you from feeling supportive or positive about someone else’s success. The one that feeds you sour grapes.
I also believe that this kind of thinking is more likely to keep you from attaining your own success. It’s not the right mindset, and we’ve all heard or read the articles stating the importance of a positive mindset.
I think we all have a tendency to feel competition or envy and many of us worry that there won’t be enough room for us in a certain endeavour if there are more people coming through and achieving success.
Have you ever met someone who is afraid of reading in their genre because they think they’ll have no more original ideas to write about in that genre if they do? It sounds crazy, right? How can they improve their writing if they refuse to read successful examples of what they’re trying to do?
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that there are no original ideas anymore. I think this is true. Obviously you should never blatantly copy other people’s work but you are allowed to be inspired by it to write your own thing. Only your mind can come up with your spin on something. Be inspired and then make it your own.
The world of writing isn’t going to become full to capacity. There isn’t some giant machine measuring the fullness of each fiction genre, with men in clipboards waiting for the alarm to go off, ready to make an announcement that science-fiction is now full and all writers should cease work forthwith.
I sometimes hear people expressing their dismay that everyone wants to be a writer as if somehow the number of people doing it takes away from their ability to do it. Some people get annoyed at NaNoWriMo because it encourages “non-writers” to have the audacity to think they can write and floods the market with so-called bad fiction making it harder for the “proper writers”. If you find yourself thinking that way, stop it.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to stop worrying about outside factors and concentrate on your own work. Nobody else can write like you, so just keep working on making your writing better and better and don’t give up.
But I think you should go one step further; I think you should celebrate and lift up those who attain success around you. If you feel jealous, kick that emotion out the door. Don’t pick at their work, show them some respect. It might not be to your taste, of course. You don’t have to be a fan of their style but do yourself a favour and be a supportive artist. They’ve had to work hard to get where they are. Overnight success is a fallacy. Trust me, they had to work hard.
I think you will reap rewards from supporting other writers. It allows you to be inspired by their success. It allows you to gain from the positivity and buzz that they feel.
I happen to believe that positivity and success are contagious. I also see successful writers everywhere reaching out and supporting new or undiscovered writers. Nobody is going to do that for you if you spew bile and sour grapes all over the internet.
We’re all in a massive community. We’re in this together and we’re all different. There is room for all of us and we can all achieve success if we work hard at it for long enough.
Aspire to be like those who have achieved success. Surround yourself with positive people. And if you do get there, to that place you consider successful, keep supporting other writers just as much as you always have.
I think you will thank me in the end.