Can Writers Be Happy?
by Writing Workshops Staff
6 months ago
Can writers be happy? I read Justin Maiman's article on happiness (he is taking Laurie Santos' famous free class on happiness at Yale) and I thought about being a writer, about the frustrations and doubts that occur when you wonder if what you have to say, or the story you want to tell, is worth wrestling to the page.
Writers are notoriously anxious and many, including myself, have suffered with imposter syndrome. It is hard not to compare yourself to writers who might be ahead of you in their writing journey or who might have found early success while you're still struggling to find your voice or foothold in the publishing industry.
Some of the best advice I've ever received, and maybe you've heard it to, is to simply write the kind of work you'd like to read, the kind of work you'd like to see in the world. As writers, the two things we have that are uniquely our own are our voice and our point of view. Together, these form the DNA of our writing, but it can still be a struggle to develop all of the tools and elements of craft that bring our unique traits as writers to the page.
Because writing is a solitary endeavor it can help to find community, of course, but it is even more important to give yourself the freedom to fail, to write a crummy first draft, to simply enjoy the process of writing, to enjoy the journey.
From taking Laurie Santos' class, Maiman has identified several takeaways:
Focus on your strengths
Invest in experiences
Learn to savor more
Express gratitude and spread kindness
Maiman ends his article by saying, the key here is to pick up a new habit that will lead you to feeling happier. So find one above that works for you and try it. It's been well worth it already for me.
I agree with what Maiman says, who distilled these points from Santos.The journey is what matters, and you should have joy along the way. Write what matters to you and the rest will follow.
Wishing you all the best for your writing and your happiness in your work this summer!
Blake Kimzey founded and directs WritingWorkshops.com and is a co-founder of The Big Texas Read. He is a graduate of the MFA Program at UC Irvine; Blake also sits on the Board of the Elizabeth George Foundation and received a generous Emerging Writer Grant from the Foundation. His fiction has been broadcast on NPR, performed on stage in Los Angeles, and published by Tin House, McSweeney’s, VICE, Longform, Redivider, D Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, Green Mountains Review, Short Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, FiveChapters, The Lifted Brow, Hobart, Puerto del Sol, The Los Angeles Review, The Masters Review, Booth, Faultline, Moon City Review, FLAUNT Magazine, Malibu Magazine, Day One, PANK, Fiction Southeast, Surreal South '13, and selected by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler for inclusion in The Best Small Fictions 2015. Blake’s collection of short tales, Families Among Us, an Indie Bestseller, was published by Black Lawrence Press. Blake has been awarded fellowships to attend the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Vermont Studio Center and a generous grant from Americans for the Arts Foundation. He has taught in the Creative Writing Programs at SMU, UT-Dallas and UC-Irvine.