From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy People Make Better Writers

I have a specific reason for saying this.

Writers need to be present. They need to notice things and take note of them. They need to be aware not only of their own feelings but the feelings of others, and the various ways of expressing those feelings.

I find it nigh impossible to do this when I'm depressed.

Depression and sadness pull you inside yourself. You're focusing on your own stress, your own problems. You don't as much notice the sadness in the voice of the boy at the register or the sun breaking through the clouds because you are worried about how much longer your grandmother has to live, or how you're going to pay rent next month or a wide variety of other things. Sometimes we have big things we're dealing with, or just really hard things, and we can't help but be internal and sad for a while. That is fine.

However. It does not a growing writer make. When we are not stuck inside ourselves we notice things about the world. When we pay attention to how other people are feeling it gives us a fresh set of eyes. And I really, really need to do better at it.

The cool thing about this is that it works the other way around too. When you're down and low, make a conscious decision to notice something around you that you haven't noticed before. Take a closer look at a tree, at someones face. Pay attention to another persons emotional cues. Before you know it, hope and even a little happiness have come back.

Happy and in a good emotional place for writing. I think we all want that.

Sarah Allen


  1. I TOTALLY agree... and have experienced this first hand. You've got to be in a good mental place to write. And when I'm on top of my life, and am striving to do all the right things, I'm a better writer. LOVE this post ;)

  2. You're definitely right! Not only do happier people worry less, but it's hard to get them to give up to sadness and defeat. ;)

  3. Alternatively, you can really dig into the depression you're feeling and then give it to a character. Plumbing your own emotional depths helps you better empathize with other people and helps you write more emotionally realistic characters. Plus it helps to offput your own sadness onto someone fictional--your own emotions become easier to deal with.

  4. I think all writers are crazy people anyway. Writing is kind of a mental illness. But I guess if you're going to be mentally ill, it's better to be happy about it.

  5. That's such great advice. I always get so much inspiration from observing people (hopefully in a non-creepy-stalker way). :)

  6. But what about all those great depressed writers???
    Sarah, are you forgetting? George Elliot. Sylvia Plath. Virginia Woolf. Tennyson.

    Art comes from the dark places. Sure there are a few happy writers, but are they the ones who truly move you? Are they the ones that make you think and rethink about life? Are they the ones you connect with and say, "that author totally gets it"?

    Well, there are all kinds I suppose. Maybe you're right.
    At any rate, I'm glad you're happy.

  7. I have a special journal for when those down times come. It makes me keep writing, but prevents negative spins on my creative projects.


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