Does Writing Make You Happy?

Today’s post is inspired by the link I included a while ago, Kim Griswell’s “Not for the Faint of Heart.” For those who missed it, go read it now. I’ll wait.

Okay, now that you know all the reasons not to be a writer, let me admit that I sometimes wonder if I write for the right reasons. I would like to be published. I would like to have some cash in my hand to prove that the time I spent writing is recognized as valuable by someone besides me. Like Kim says, love is not practical, and I strive to be a practical person. Sometimes I start wondering if there should be more to life than staring at a laptop making stuff up.

But then I remember—the days I put my laptop away after a serious day of writing, I’m infused with more energy than on the days I hide the laptop from myself so I can do “real” things. After I’ve written something creative, I feel giddy, slightly crazy, maybe even annoying to the person in my household who didn’t get to write. I wonder if writing creatively is my brain on laughing gas. Except for the days when I hate what I’ve written—those are my hangover days. (Not that I’ve experienced either. I have a phobia of ingesting mind-altering substances.)

All that said, I feel validated by a quote from Martine Leavitt: “‘My faith, my family and my friends make me happy. I’ll tell you: life makes me happy. But writing is my way of being alive. It is my way of being in the world, my way of experiencing it and understanding it.”

See, I have to keep writing so I can stay alive. Even if I never receive another paycheck.

The cool thing about Martine, besides that she wrote Keturah and Lord Death, National Book Award finalist, is that she found success while raising six kids by herself and working a day job. She said she has “a sense of obligation to develop a gift that the universe has given me. That way, I am able to give it my heart and my time, without feeling that I am taking anything away from my family.”

The other cool thing about Martine: she’s coming to the BYU workshop this summer.



Filed under why I write

4 responses to “Does Writing Make You Happy?

  1. What a great post, Kim! I have to agree with that last part that Martine shared. I feel like I’ve been given a gift that I should at least try and share and develop. And I would die if I couldn’t write. I know how you feel. 🙂

  2. Now THOSE are great reasons for writing. I just read a short piece from a thriller writer about how he got published. First, he wrote about the 10 years he spent PRIOR to being published writing early every morning in a cafe. Then he made the point that–published or not–because of that daily writing he began every day as a happy man. It’s well worth remembering that the joy of writing is why most of us write and that worrying too much about publication can dampen our joy.

    • Kim Reid

      Well said, Kim. Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂 I would love to hear more about your new job description and if you’re enjoying it. I’ll continue visiting your blog.

  3. gaylene

    It’s true. Even if I never get published I will probably continue writing, too, just because I can’t NOT write. Nice post. And I love martine! She’s the best writing instructor I’ve had.