Wanted: Writers struggling to stay positive as they pursue a writing career. Must be willing to look at things a little differently while seeking to find the Happy in writing again.
You sit down to write and you’re excited to get started. You may not know exactly what will flow from your fingers today, but it doesn’t matter, because you love writing, creating stories and characters so real you feel you know them. You’re doing what you love and having fun doing it!
You have goals —stars you’re reaching for — but the fact that you haven’t reached them yet is okay, because you’re Happy. Writing makes you feel good, even when it’s not perfect. Even when it’s hard.
Every step on the journey takes you on a new adventure…maybe not exactly what you pictured, maybe not on the timetable you once thought you’d follow, but you go along joyfully because you realize that loving what you’re doing and being Happy is the most important thing.
If this sounds like a writing life you want to experience, I hope to help you with that. Welcome to The Happy Writer!
After a recent weekend writers’ conference, I sifted through my observations of how the conference went. My favorite thing about writing conferences is being with people who understand the writing life. Together we laugh and cry, celebrate and commiserate. We’re brought closer by all we have in common, no matter what we write or where we are in the process.
Over that weekend, as with every other conference I’ve been to, there had been ups and downs, complaints and praise. The highs (great workshops, awe-inspiring keynote speakers) made us feel wonderful, made us all remember why we write in the first place.
But the lows (pitch sessions that didn’t go the way we wanted, less-than-stellar industry news)…the lows dragged us down, had us contemplating hanging up our pens for good, wondering why we put ourselves through the agony.
When I got home, I couldn’t decide how I felt about it all. I wanted to write. I was excited about the book I was working on, but at the same time having a hard time mustering enthusiasm about it all.
When I thought about it though, I realized that writers have two things in common, no matter where we are in our writing careers:
1. We all have something about writing we feel un-Happy about.
2. We all want to be inspired, which makes us Happy about the writing.
Sound familiar? A writing career is your dream, but there little things (or big things) that make writing un-fun for you? Do you long to be inspired? Do you seek out situations (like conferences, writing retreats, coffee dates with other writers) that inspire you and keep you going on those days when you’d rather curl up in the fetal position and forget it all?
You are not alone if you do. The rest of us are right there, feeling the same feelings, no matter whether we are just getting started, have a couple published books on our shelves, or have had a taste of the New York Times Bestseller List.
Thankfully, wishing to be inspired isn’t a problem. The problem is the things that make us unhappy about writing. Because those things can stifle our creativity. So how do we get rid of those things?
They say that the first step to change is identifying what you want to change. So, ask yourself a simple question: What’s blocking your writing happiness right now?
Take a second and jot a couple things down. I’ll wait. (Feel free to share them in the comments section, too! We can tackle them together!)
Here’s a few things you might have listed:
Not being published.
Not having an agent.
Not having as much time to write as you’d like.
Not being taken seriously as a writer by your family/friends.
Not having a dedicated writing space.
Being lousy at writing query letters.
Notice a pattern? Some things we can do something about…like learning to write a fabulous query letter. But I bet a lot of things you’re unhappy about are external, i.e. out of your control. We can’t control when an agent will agree to represent us or when we will get a publishing contract. We can’t control how our family and friends treat our desire to write.
Another thing our unhappinesses may have in common is that they are things. In the TED video “Plug into Your Hard-Wired Happiness,” Srikumar S. Rao, Ph.D., an executive, writer and life coach reminds us, “Anything we can get, we can un-get.” Health, wealth, a great job, an agent…even a publishing contract.
So here’s an eye-opening question: If our happiness hinges on having something external to us, out of our control, what happens if we lose it? Does that mean we can’t be happy then?
What we can control is how we look at things. The internal. We have sole control over whether we choose to focus on the Happy things about writing or the things that make us miserable.
Sound nuts? It’s true! You may not be able to control the thoughts running through your head at any given moment, but you can control whether you choose to hold onto those thoughts or let them go and choose a happier thought.
And if you consistently choose happy thoughts, pretty soon you’ll develop a Happy Habit.
That’s what this blog is going to be about. Developing the Happy Habit. Choosing better thoughts, focusing on the reasons we love writing, and in the process freeing our creativity.
Go back up near the top of this post and re-read Picture This. If that’s the kind of writer you want to be, I hope you’ll stick around and join me on this journey to become a Happy Writer.
Let’s get started! What makes you un-happy about writing/being a writer? What would you like to feel better about? Share your thoughts!