Be Happy When You Write
Over the years I've heard several variations of this piece of advice from different sources. The first time I heard it was from an author giving a workshop on writing tips at a book fair. Be Happy When You Write, she said. Be in a good mood. Enjoy the process. As a writer you've chosen to take this path. Writing is hard work and a solitary activity. So it's best to at least be happy when you are doing it. It's better to write in a happy state of mind. It will make things easier.
Be Happy When You Write.
That was writing tip #1 of a whole list of tips that she offered, but it is the only tip I remember from her workshop to this day.
At the time it sounded simple enough, but sometimes you need to hear something a couple of times before you really comprehend its entire meaning. It's kind of like... watching a movie or reading a book again at a different age or stage of life, and understanding or picking up on something that you hadn't before.
And sometimes it's the way that essentially the same message is packaged or presented that makes the light bulb go off. I recently started re-thinking about the wisdom behind the advice: Be Happy When You Write, when I came across this piece advice, from master copywriter Ted Nicholas:
Be in a Peak Emotional State When You Write.
As I read up on it, I learned that there are several things you can do to get in a peak emotional state. Here are a few:
- Prepare yourself mentally before writing.
- Know what time of day you are most productive.
- Have a good, conducive place to do your writing.
- Focus on the positive and what you have to be grateful for.
This last point really resonated with me. It is so fundamentally important for writers to be in the right frame of mind to be able get in “the flow” and as we create. But it’s not just about being in a positive mindset. You have to actively protect yourself from negativity, drama and interference. I know this because I have had my share of dealing with difficult, toxic people and situations.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a toxic situation, or somehow obligated or bound to a difficult person? I know I have.
Looking back on it, I see how crippling it was to my writing and creativity. I was constantly being challenged and I was overwhelmed. On some level I knew that I was in a dead end situation and I felt trapped. A lot of the time I was focused on fear, scarcity or failure. What energy does one have left to create in the midst of all this strife? It was emotionally taxing and definitely took a toll in the long run. What’s worst is how it can leave you feeling disempowered. I have no doubt that negativity crushes creativity and flow.
It’s easy to say that you should look for signs that something is not working and not get sucked into a toxic situation. But what happens if you’re in some situation that you can’t immediately walk away from? You’ll have to learn how to deal with it, make adjustments and mitigate things. Don’t engage with the difficult people in your life, minimize your contact with them, and above all, do not let these people get to you.
Realize when you are fighting an uphill battle.
At some point you will just need to break free for your own sanity’s sake, to at least try to get some perspective. If not by your own will, something else will eventually happen. Maybe one day you hit your limit, the absurdity of the situation becomes blatantly apparent, or you finally hear the real talk that your supportive, close friends and family have been giving you. Once you snap out of it, you can try to get some distance, and lean on friends and family for advice and help. Next you can decide if things can be salvaged or changed in a way that allows you to continue, or if you should just cut your losses and disengage.
A lot of this comes down to respecting yourself, valuing yourself and your time, and maintaining the right mindset
It’s an entire approach to life.
Writers are the ones who write things into reality, and I believe work best when working in the realm of possibility.
Take a minute to think about what the obstacles in your life are.
What can you stop, change or eliminate in order to Be Happy When You Write?