Fear and Envy can often hijack writers' ability to focus on their own careers. Terri Coduri Viani offers six tips for writers to manage these emotional wasps.
Writers suffer. This is known. What’s less known is that we wouldn’t have it any other way, because if we didn’t suffer what would we (moan) write about? Daily we are busy bees, gathering sadness and misfortune like bits of creative pollen and turning them into rich story honeycomb.
Until the wasps show up, that is, and turn the hum of the worker bee into a violent brain-frying buzz.
Fear Wasp buzzes around you with thoughts of your own terrible writing. Envy Wasp provides a list of friends (worse, enemies) with managers and optioned projects. If that’s not enough, it shoves a copy of Hollywood Reporter in your face to let you know, that Big Idea script you’ve been bleeding over for a year? People who aren’t you are already doing it.
Raise a wing, writer bees, if you recognize these wasp sting thoughts:
- I’ll never get a manager.
- I'll never have a project optioned.
- I’ll never have another Big Idea.
- My writing sucks.
These feelings are natural and normal. All bees …okay …okay …*puts metaphor down* all writers feel the exact same way you do from time to time. It’s important to acknowledge them—and then clear them right the hell out of the hive.
Here are six things writers can do to manage Fear and Envy
Practice gratitude for what you have. Okay so you haven’t made your great leap to the next level yet. But look back over the last year and take note of what you have accomplished. Are you a better writer than you were twelve months ago? Do you have more contacts, and a bigger network of like-minded creatives? Have you found a way to have fun in the grind? Then you did it. That’s progress, however small. As JRR Tolkien wrote, little by little, one travels far.
Practice happiness for what others have. You may have to behave your way to success on this one but make it a point to send congrats to your friends on their success—even when you don’t feel like it. This spreads general good vibes which we all desperately need right now, and—excuse the woo - also keeps your own Abundance Channels open and ready to receive. Remember, success is not a party platter with only so many pigs in a blanket to go around. There’s enough for all of us, so celebrate your fellow writers when good things flow their way.
Keep your eyes on your own paper. Mrs. Friend (yes that was really her name, she was born to teach tots) told us this back in kindergarten, and it still applies. Don’t be so busy casting sour looks at someone else’s life you miss the opportunity wandering by in your own. Take a personal inventory of your own craft: What classes can you take? What networking events can you attend? What skills do you still need to master? Stop burning daylight on Fear and Envy. Up your game.
Don’t quit your Big Idea. Projects get shelved or die of natural causes all.the.time., even with big names attached, so don’t toss yours aside just yet. And if it never gets made, the worst that’ll happen is you’ll have a top-notch script showcasing your voice and talent. A great script doesn’t need to get made to open doors.
Get busy. Or, as Shonda Rhimes said, “Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you, Prince William?” The days of the Big Three Networks (and a couple of UHF channels no one really understood) are long gone; We live in a Brave New World of eleventy-billion media outlets and the ability to make and distribute content on our own. Bust out the spreadsheets and keep a list of all the things you can do to manage your own success. Be so busy with your own awesomeness you don’t have the time or energy for Fear and Envy.
Prioritize the Process. This is another one that may require you to train your mind because it's human nature to get lost in future frets and daydreams. It's important to set goals and take action towards them. But the vicissitudes of life and showbiz dictate that, in the end, we have little sway over the outcome of our careers. Success is elusive and often impermanent, so spend your energy on the things you can control: the writing, the process, the work, the commitment to ass in chair, fingers on keyboard. Keep doing what you do to the best of your ability in this crazy old thing we call the writing life. There is no other way.
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