Friday, April 19, 2013

Seth Godin's FOMO--Fear of Missing Out: Jealousy and How It Affects the Creative Person

Way back when I was new to writing, I did an exercise from Julia Cameron's classic, The Artist's Way, called The Jealousy Map. 

Cameron worked for years with what she called "recovering artists," or writers, musicians, and other creative folk who were stalled out, not doing their art.  She proposed that jealousy often blocked us from reaching our fullest potential.  This translated into a kind of creative self-abuse.  Our Inner Critic got out of hand.

The Jealousy Map asked you to write a fast list of everyone you were jealous of.  From the local writer who just got a story accepted to your neighbor who was so creative to the last winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 

I went wild.  I had no idea how much jealousy lurked inside me!  My best friend, members of my writers' group, luminaries like Pam Houston (a short story writer I adored), and others got scribbled onto my paper.  Anyone I felt was "chosen" in some way, while I was not. 

Many on my list reflected areas where I felt less competent.  I envied writers with better skills and a longer track record in publishing, thinking it was luck that got them there.  I didn't know better. 

The exercise was cathartic.  By the end, I was quite ashamed!  What a terrible, mean-spirited person I was.  To be so envious of these other writers' well-deserved accolades and successes. 

But the exercise wasn't over.