How to Be a Happy Writer


Photo credit: ohskylab on Flickr
Most writers are ambitious people—we have to be, after all, just setting out to write a novel is an ambitious move on its own. Many of us understand the worth of delayed gratification, and those of us who don’t learn it very quickly or quit.

So, ambitious people that we are, we tend to focus on the future. We’re motivated. We work hard to accomplish our dreams and focus on completing our goals—which is a good thing.

But although we put in the blood and sweat to see our dreams realized, we often forget to pause long enough to celebrate what we’ve already achieved.

What I’m saying is, we forget to enjoy the stage we’re in.

Many writers fall into the “I’ll be happy when…” trap. I know I did. We tell ourselves, I’ll be happy when I finish the book, when I finish editing, when I get an agent, when I get published, when I publish my second book, on and on and on. But guess what? When we do finish the book, when we do get the agent, we tend to celebrate for a short time, then amend our statement.

Now I’ll be happy when I sell x many copies. Now I’ll be happy when so-and-so blurbs my book. Now I’ll be happy when I have a five-star rating.

Forget that, guys. Don’t be happy later. Be happy now.

I’m not published. I don’t have an agent. I have four books in the drawer, many of which will probably never see the light of day, two more that I’m editing and another that I’m brainstorming. I don’t know if I’ll ever have an agent, if I’ll ever see my book at Barnes & Noble, if I’ll ever make any sort of best-selling list at all. And sometimes it’s heavy. Sometimes I want to stop and do something that other people will recognize as productive. Something my friends and family will understand.

But then I remind myself why I write. It’s not for the money, for the book contract, hell, it’s not even for readers (although all of those things are very nice).

It’s for me. Because I love it.

Sometimes we need to stop and remind ourselves all that we have accomplished. No I’m not published, but who cares? I’ve written six novels and I’m proud of every one of them. I’ve had journeys with my characters, I’ve fallen in love with them, I’ve developed them and then moved on. But they’re mine, and they’re alive because I wrote them.

And that in itself is something no one can take away from me.

Maybe you haven’t written a book yet. Maybe you’re too afraid to start. If that’s the case, ask yourself why you want to do it. If it’s for the money, for the fame, then maybe writing isn’t right for you. If it’s because it’s something you want to do for you, if it’s because you have a story and you want to write it to life, then go for it. Even if it never gets published, it’s a story that you’ve created, a story that will always be with you.

Maybe you’ve written a book and like me, haven’t been published or picked up by an agent. That’s ok too; I challenge you to take the time to see all you’ve accomplished. I challenge you to take a moment to remember the characters you’ve created, the lives you’ve pulled from the depths of your mind.

I don’t care what stage you’re in; take the time now to enjoy it.

And whenever you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself why you started it all in the first place. And smile. Because you’re a writer, my friend, and you’re just doing what writers do.

Take time to celebrate your accomplishments and share them here; I’d love to hear about it. J

11 comments:

Carissa Elg said...

I adore this post! Kudos!

I'm still working on the final edits in Pendomus, but I love each and every stage. (Granted, some days are better than others. I won't lie. LOL!)

So much about the world is like an extension of myself and even if it never makes it to the printed world, I'm okay with that. It's was never written or started for that purpose. I was driven into it by a seventeen year old girl who needed to be heard and the man she didn't know existed. ;)

Love your posts!

Jen said...

You know, it's funny because I wrote about something similar today :) but you're right, we take the writing and editing stages for granted. We should enjoy the ride or else our books will come out sounding as rushed and crazy as we feel.

The East Coaster said...

This was such a beautiful post!!

Ava Jae said...

I'm so glad everyone's liked this post so far!

@Carissa

Final edits are fun (if not a little exhausting). Some days are always better than others, that's just part of the process.

I love what you said about the world being an extension of yourself, that's a perfection description of how it feels. Love it. :)

@Jen

Definitely. We often forget how much of how we're feeling as we write reflects in our writing.

@The East Coaster

Thank you so much! I already said it...but I'm really happy to see all the positive feedback.

Thanks everyone for commenting!

Krista said...

I learned this lesson recently about life in general. I keep telling myself I will be happy when [insert next major life milestone].

Well, life (and writing) does not always go according to plan. So it is not good to put off your happiness.

Now I am taking time to enjoy the journey. Actually, that is why I started writing again. To enjoy life now, instead of always looking toward the future.

Girl Parker said...

Loved this post!! What a great attitude, and one I need to work on.

Ava Jae said...

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! As always I loved hearing from you guys. :)

Shakespeare said...

Wow, you talk to us the way I talk to myself. Why not be happy now?

I'm working on it... and thanks for the help!

Becca Puglisi said...

Wow, the world needs more posts like this. I learned this lesson early on when it came to my kids. My friends were always going on about how they couldn't wait until their child could walk, or talk, or poop in the pot, or go to school. It took my husband and me forever to have kids, so I determined right off to enjoy every single stage and not wish any of it away.

I forget this little lesson when it comes to writing. Things look so much better when you focus on what you can do rather than what you can't. Thanks for the reminder!

Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

Steven Belanger said...

Writing accomplishments?  Not too many.  Sold a short story to Space and Time Magazine.  Finished a novel that some agents liked.  One read it twice.  It's almost there; I can feel it.  That's a success in of itself, I think.  Finished a poem this week that I'll submit somewhere.  Worked more on my two WIPs.  Wrote stories and created word searches and mazes that I sold for $25 a piece to a local newspaper when I was a kid.  Not much, really, but I feel like I'm (often, slowly) getting there.  Great entry.  Thanks for the lift (and the shameless self-promotion).

Ava Jae said...

First of all, thank you for commenting on so many of my posts. I love it. :D

Second, you have tons of accomplishments right there! Selling a short story and finishing a novel that agents liked are huge. Not only that, but you're working on two WIPs (you have something written don't you?--accomplishment) and you've got some poetry skills. That's plenty to be proud of. 

Even so-called "small" accomplishments are accomplishments that deserve celebration. Don't count them out!

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