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POLL RESULTS: How book creators cope with other creators’ success

I recently posted a poll on Twitter, asking how creators cope with the occasional (or not so occasional) twinge of wistfulness or envy when hearing about a colleague’s success. I go through this sometimes as well, especially if I’m already feeling low or have been going through a rough time.

Don’t get me wrong – I *am* genuinely happy for these colleagues, especially if I know they’ve been going through a challenging time themselves. Sometimes, though, I admit that sometimes there are mixed feelings on my end, especially if I’m feeling low – I get anxious, telling myself I’m not doing enough in some aspect of my career. Plus like some other creators, I struggled with creative productivity earlier in the pandemic. Or maybe a book I worked hard on was ignored by reviewers or badly reviewed, or wasn’t included in lists, etc.

Logically, of course, I know the industry has ups and downs, not everyone likes every book, some types of books and creators get more attention than others, there’s room for all to succeed, to enjoy the journey etc. etc. The emotional and not-always-rational part of my brain, however, sometimes decides to dive down a self-flagellating rabbit hole anyway. ?

What helps me cope, in case it helps others: limiting how much time I spend browsing social media, diving back into work I enjoy, curating what I read via Twitter lists, helping boost someone who doesn’t get the recognition I feel they deserve, getting together in person with friends who aren’t in the industry, getting together with friends who are in the industry, and (this is a biggie) talking with young readers. The latter ALWAYS helps ground me and remind me of what’s really important.

I also remind myself of my own goals, and my time constraints for achieving those goals, focusing on those instead of constantly comparing myself to others. I’m reminded of the scene near the end of the original Star Wars movie: “Stay on target!” I also find it helps to celebrate every success, no matter how small, and to focus on things I can control. This year, I’ve started keeping a list in my bullet journal of at least one happy moment or good thing that happened each day. When I’m feeling down, browsing this list helps me appreciate what I have rather than what I don’t have.

And that brings me to my poll:

First off, THANK YOU SO MUCH to all those who replied! Especially to those who admitted to feeling occasional wistfulness or envy. Intellectually, we all know what we SHOULD do or SHOULD be feeling….but I believe that there is value in showing one’s vulnerability sometimes, especially when it comes to helping others. I think this makes us better book creators as well.

Speaking just from my own experience (and from poll answers, some of you agree), I think our emotional reactions to other people’s successes depends heavily on what we’re going through at the time, regardless of what stage we are in our careers.

Some creators who responded say they are NEVER envious of their colleagues’ successes – I wish I could be more like these writers and illustrators! ? Some also offered their own tips on how to never feel envious of other creators. Feel free to click on my original thread to read all the responses. Because the poll is geared to toward those (like me!) who DO sometimes feel wistful/envious, however, I’m focusing on those answers.

Here are just a few, and I encourage you to read everyone’s responses (SO much great advice) and follow those whose answers inspire you. Several say that acknowledging ALL their own feelings, even when feelings may not be all positive, helps them more easily and genuinely celebrate others’ successes. Answers ranged from tongue-in-cheek to more serious.

Basic summary: cope however you feel necessary in your own situation. Only YOU know what will work best for you.

There was SO many wonderful responses, but these were just a few. I encourage you to read through all the responses, Like and Follow the creators who most inspire you.

And again…HUGE thanks to everyone who responded!

See more survey and poll results in my archives.

2 thoughts on “POLL RESULTS: How book creators cope with other creators’ success”

  1. Kary Lee says:

    Hey Debbie,
    Just scrolled through the reply’s. Love this!!! Wanted to drop a quick note letting you know that I appreciate all you do to keep this community connected and remind us that we’re all so similar.

    It compelled me to reach out and let you know that your support has helped me push through more than once and to share that things are going well here. (At At the recommendation of a an SCBWI author/friend, Laurie Thompson, I pitched to my dream agent when my COVID HELPERS book was doing well last year. (a 2021 Bank Street award winner) And now- I’m repped by Kevin Lewis at EMLA! CRAZY- If it wasn’t for her encouragement I would have never put him on my list. Another example of why I love this community. We may feel envy sometimes, but it’s encouragement by ppl like you and Laurie that make it worth the unknowns. I hope you are well my friend!


    1. Debbie Ohi says:

      Hi Kary! So happy to hear things are going so well for you. Congrats on getting your dream agent! And hurray for supportive kidlit friends!

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