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Overcoming Creative Jealousy

Posted in Articles, Back to the Woodshed! | 4 Comments »


What’s green and felt all over? It’s Jealousy, that evil monster. Yep, folks, it’s the dark side of being an artist, and not very pretty. I guess we are all susceptible to it, though some times are worse than others. Some may disagree. but I rank jealousy with masturbation. Ninety percent will admit to it, and the other ten percent is lying. What I’m here today to discuss on my soapbox is not that it’s an evil thing, but that it’s normal. Of course, I’m not condoning the shredding of a rival diva’s costume minutes before she goes onstage (which has happened in real life to a friend). I’m only saying that when she gets on stage, looking totally fly, singing fierce, singing her ASS off, it’s normal to want to strangle her. And if she’s a bitch to boot, it’s even more difficult to be happy for her (”Gee, I don’t know why God decided to give me all this money this year. Isn’t it great??” – Yeah, right). Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I admire every musician that I’ve ever mentioned here in my blog, but I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been moments during any of their performances that I thought, “Damn, that was good. I suck.” To be fair, maybe someone has thought that during one of my shows. Maybe not, but it’s still a fact of life for an artist.

Being an artist of any medium practically is an ongoing challenge. Commercial demands aside, as an artist you are constantly faced with a blank sheet of paper, canvas, or lump of clay. Sometimes you feel inspired. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you come up with roses, other times it’s manure. An artist is rarely happy with his/her work At least, not for long. You finish a project, and you can’t believe that you created it. The next day (or sooner), you wonder if you can ever do it again. Creating art, like dying, is something done alone.

The helplessness of an artist probably contributes to various addictions. When you add the demands of the marketplace to the equation, it can get ugly. We ARE our demons…Of course, I can still find the positive spin to all of this. When you see someone else kicking butt, especially someone you know (and usually like), listen to your heart. The jealousy and envy stem from wanting something they have. Deep down in your heart, you always know what you lack as an artist. When you watch someone who has it, it hurts. It’s WAY too easy to get stuck in “Oh, she slept with the producer”. Maybe she did, but I have yet to see ANYONE get ahead just because they knew “who to do”. It takes a lot of work to go forward. Besides, the producer probably made her dress up in a Wonder Woman costume. He may even have incriminating photos of the moment as well that she will forever worry about. Tell me that that’s not hard work!

But I digress. The trick, I think, is using that feeling to energize your own improvement. Personally, I find that watching someone who has something I need to improve upon makes me work for it even more. It can be painful, no doubt, to watch someone on stage have a seemingly flawless performance when you feel that your own stage presence lacks, due to nervousness. Well folks, one thing I learned is that there is NO magic involved to great performances. It’s really true that practice makes perfect. Whatever you want to improve, you can. You think you’re not connected, get out and meet people. You want to write better songs, put in the time. You want to know more about the business, read some books.

You know what I hate? People who go to the same seminars that I do, but ask the same question (or different versions of it) time after time. I just want to say, “You got your answer last month. Get on with it!” There comes a time in each life when you have to own up to what you need to do to make it happen. If you can’t or won’t do it, perhaps something else is meant for you. I say all that to say this: sometimes jealousy tells you what you need to do. Other times, it’s plain old envy. Just don’t let it rule your life. By focusing on others, you’ll lose track of your own growth. This year I challenge you. Work on ONE thing that will bring you closer to your goal. You know what it is. Just do it.

Excerpted from The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Guide to the Music Biz by Carla Lynne Hall. Available at

4 Responses to “Overcoming Creative Jealousy”

  1. Bill Brooks Says:

    Hi Carla,

    What a great post, thanks for sharing it on Facebook so I could read it here! I have far too often experienced the little green monster myself and needed this reminder to go do it it I want it!

  2. Carla Says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Bill. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Obviously it was inspired by personal experience – hahaha!

  3. CATTSKI Says:

    Hey Carla,

    Great blog. This is a reminder to stay focus and be ‘kinder’ to myself when i’m vulnerable to my own demons… I dont have to beat myself up. It just means i got work to do. And its all good. Thanks for the inspiration…


  4. Carla Says:

    Thanks for visiting, Cattski! You are so right – we can all stand to be kinder to ourselves when we’re in that place.

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