IWSG: Writer Envy

Logo for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Picture of a lighthouse with text reading "THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP"

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose!

March 1 question – Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?


One of the women in my last in-person writers’ group was a huge fangirl for **well-known series**.  She was in awe of this particular writer, and very much not in awe of me. At the time, I was writing a fairly gory thriller. She was not a gore-girl, and she was probably right that I could have toned it down.  So, in one of her critiques of my work, she wound up–I kid you not–reciting the entire (short) first chapter of **well-known series**. From memory. Yes. She had it memorized. Other than that–like all my friends–she was completely normal.

There are lines in that first chapter that are still stuck in my head. Still in her voice.

(Total number of people memorizing entire chapters of my work? Zero. Not even my mom.)

The things that I have memorized?

Mostly they fall into two categories. 1.) Things that I had to translate and then discuss at length when I was in school and 2.) Things that I was having trouble getting into, and therefore wound up reading (part of) about a million times.

It’s not that I don’t experience writer envy.

It’s that I experience it every single time I read a book.

There’s always something amazing that someone has done that makes me feel as though that person is shiny and brilliant, and just plain better at writing than I am. Always? Maybe a bit of an overstatement, but not by much. There are so many amazing writers out there; and even if I’m not a huge fan of the writer, I usually find at least a few envyable lines.

I try to dissect it quickly, and move on. It’s probably not good for me to think that everyone in the world is better at what I want to do than I am. It’s something I have to work on. Low valuation of self. Let’s just not encourage that line of thought by talking about it too much.


  1. Reply

    I try to appreciate the amazing words or plots that other writers create rather than envy them. That’s great that you’ve learned to move on from your envy quickly.

  2. Loni Townsend


    Reciting from memory? That’s impressive. I haven’t had someone love my work that much either, but I think the “recite from memory” super fans are probably a breed of their own. I think I’d be terrified if someone loved my work that much. It’s like, you’re not going to go Misery on me, are you?

  3. Reply

    Whenever I start comparing my writing to other people’s, I try to remind myself that their first draft was probably just as bad as mine. It’s always my current WIP that I feel the most anxiety about, and it’s never a fair contest to compare my WIP to someone else’s finished and published manuscript.

  4. Diane Burton


    A whole chapter memorized??? I have a hard time remembering an amazing first line. Oh, well. It’s never a good idea to dis someone else’s work. It can turn around and bite you.

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