5 Things to Help You Be a Happy Writer

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Last week I was trundling along on the treadmill looking at blog posts when I came across a link to a Writer’s Digest post, “It’s Great to Suck at Writing” by Karen Rinaldi. Rinaldi discusses the idea that to succeed as a writer you first have to be okay with sucking and then working really, really hard to improve. Those who expect to be great at it from the outset and aren’t willing to adjust their attitude are doomed to failure.

Wait a minute. Why am I talking about failure? Didn’t I promise you 5 things to help you be a happy writer? I did. And here comes #1.

Adopt a growth mindset. Students with a growth mindset don’t focus on grades. They focus on the challenge of learning. In much the same way, writers with a growth mindset look at their lack of skill in a given area as a chance to learn and improve. A rejection is a chance to try again and do better.

Try new things. Related to having a growth mindset is a willingness to try new things. In writing, this might mean learning to use Scrivener. It might also mean learning to write in a new genre such as graphic novels or learning about magazine writing if you are novelist. Writers who are willing to try new things challenge themselves. Studies show that when we are challenged we are happier.

Find a way to use your character strengths. As part of a class I am taking, we took a survey to determine our character strengths. Not surprisingly, my five greatest strengths are creativity (artistic and finding new ways to do things), love of learning, judgement (an ability to look at all sides of an issue), gratitude, and bravery (a willingness act or speak up about something even if your perspective is unpopular). As a nonfiction writer who writes about race and social justice, I get to use all of these traits on a regular basis. Take the quiz which you can find here and look for a way to use your strengths in your writing. 

Get out among people. People, even introverts, are social animals. We are happiest when we spend at least some time with others. Yes, even introverts. Studies show that even eating chocolate is more enjoyable in the company of another person even if you don’t interact. It is easy to do much of what we need to do online, but every now and then it pays to get out in the brick-and-mortar world. Go to the library. Pick up your office supplies instead of having them delivered. Meet the clerk’s eye and thank them for their help.

Find a writing community. People in general are good but writers need fellow writers. Unfortunately, you may not be able to find other writers where you live. That’s where WOW! can come in handy. Communities like this are a great way to connect with people who are as interested in writing as you are. Having people who know what you are going through will help to bolster your spirits all along your writing journey.

It may be great to suck at writing, but it is even better if you can manage to be happy while you learn and grow.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins July 22nd, 2019.


Sioux Roslawski said...

So, should we each say, "I suck... and I'm proud of it"?

I know I'm more than eager for feedback when I meet with my critique group, and often I preface their reading my piece with something like, "I know the beginning's weak" or "The ending is schmaltzy, but it's the best I could do" or "I need help with a title."

I DO suck at times... but I know it's a necessary part of the process.

Renee Roberson said...

Spot on post, Sue. It's nice to know that all the different writing I've tried out (and failed at, occasionally!) were just all a normal part of the process of growing and not just me being an indecisive writer, LOL. Now I need to go take that quiz so I can see what my strengths are!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

It is a part of the process but I think that sometimes we need the reminder.

You probably won't be terribly surprised by your strengths. For me, the quiz was more of a reminder.

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