Getting the Happy Back

I’ve observed something over the past year. Very few authors seem to be happy with their careers. That unhappiness manifests itself in different ways when the subject of writing careers come up. Sighs. Rolled eyes. Or out and out discussion of their frustrations.

In each case, much of the discussion ends up revolving around the things we can’t control – the market, publisher decisions, overall sales, Amazon platform changes/modifications/gaming-the-system issues, and saturation in the market.

What’s been particularly marked is that the discussion seems far more pervasive than ever before. I’m not quite sure what the root cause is (though I suspect there are several, many itemized above) but something has distinctly changed.

In thinking about the new year, I’m not really a resolution person, but I do like a new year for its ability to re-focus us on what’s ahead. And one of the things I’m keen to do is to get my happy back. Yes, publishing is frustrating. I do sometimes wonder if the echo chamber of social media has added to some of our frustration as well.

But in reality, it’s more than that. Social media, just like all the other frustrations I noted, are external. I’m looking for the part that comes way down deep inside. The feeling in me that knows – without any doubt, unhappiness or frustration – that I’m a writer.

I found that person about twenty years ago, when I wrote my first book. I’d dabbled with stories but finally focused and committed to writing an entire book. I think back on that process and what came from it – absolute joy – and I realize that in the end, that is the part control. Not the industry. Not other writers. Not social media.

The writing.

Here in 2019, that’s my goal. To get the happy back. To focus on the part I love beyond measure and to deliberately minimize the parts that don’t bring joy.

I hope you’ll join me!

Happy Writing!



24 responses to “Getting the Happy Back”

  1. Great post, Addison! And you have definitely hit upon an increasing problem over the past few years. It is much easier to concentrate on the tough stuff when it comes to venting and talking it over. And obsessing! LOL Talking about the good stuff – the joy of writing, the nice e mails from readers, simply the idea of creating people, feelings, and worlds that will exist in the world forever by virtue of the fact you have written them and had to courage to publish them.

    I realize this is a business. I realize I HAVE to work harder to promote my books and to be a better marketer and a better business planner. Since I walked out of Walmart a few years ago writing is supposed to have been my source of income. It has been TOUGH! And I am still struggling. But, I firmly believe if I concentrate on the one thing I CAN control – the writing – the rest of it will come.

    It is a great idea to concentrate on the joy this year and see what happens. I think we will all be surprised!

  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    So glad you wrote this post. I feel it, too.

    We have so much information now. We’re bombarded with it. I can remember thinking that with my kids. When I was a teen, I had 5 TV stations to choose from–and 20 classes my senior year. For my girls (and for me), the choices are endless today; they can become almost paralyzing.

    When I started writing, I knew NO authors. Then I showed up for my RWA chapter meeting, and whoa, I knew 5 authors. Now I either know personally or often interact with 100s of authors. The access to their information and generosity is amazing. But it also gives me the opportunity to compare myself and feel inadequate.

    I should just stop. Or compare myself to me and my goals. And one of them is to love the job. To find joy in the writing.

    In 2019, I just gotta remember to use the right measuring stick.

    • Addison Fox says:

      YES, the information!!!

      It’s wonderful as it’s more tools and opportunities to be prepared. But when they become overwhelming they go from being effective tools to lead weights.

      Happy 2019!!!

  3. Elizabeth Essex says:

    Such a timely post, Addison. I have been thinking very much along the same lines—that joy and satisfaction in the writing itself is the key to surviving in such trying, frustrating times.

    Thank you for this reminder that it’s the right decision. 🙂

  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    Great post, Addison, and such great advice. WRITING is the aspect of this career we control. Publishing? Not so much. 🙂

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  5. Kate Parker says:

    In this cold, snowy season (1 degree here this morning), it’s good to relight the fires that burn inside us to write. And from satisfying those fires by writing comes joy.
    Here’s to a joyous New Year. And leaving the crap that holds us down behind.
    Thanks for the timely reminder, Addison.

  6. What a great post, Addison. Our books are the the one thing we can control and I love the joy and satisfaction of writing ‘the end.’ Wishing a joyous New Year to all.

  7. I do love the idea of focusing on the joy and the things we can control, but I also think that when I vent about frustrations to fellow writers it’s not always about unhappiness – sometimes it’s about the hunger for more and I need that hunger so I keep pushing and keep trying to improve. And the need to connect with other creatives in this business who understand the highs and lows of this crazy industry. So to me not all frustration talk is bad, but I do totally support positivity and focusing on the good. 🙂 Here’s hoping there is a lot of good to focus on in 2019!

    • Addison Fox says:

      Vivi – I SO agree about the need for good writing friends and a safe space to vent. Frustration is a normal part of this business and acknowledging that really is important.

      Happy 2019!!!!

  8. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Awesome post!
    It’s all true. Every word of it. It is very hard to not become overwhelmed with the industry and the frustrations that come with publishing. It affects our careers, after all. And that can be detrimental, life-altering for some. There are times I feel like giving up. At this point in my life (with my kids and the rough economy), I don’t have the time to write simply for the joy of it. It’s a job and the external junk is causing me to feel like I’m barely treading water.

    But, as I always do, I will be trying something different this year and hope it will breathe new life into my career. All said, I do find happiness in writing. I am proud of my stories and how far I have come in the last 10 years.

    Great topic, Addison. May we all find and nurture the happy!

  9. Heather McCollum says:

    Fabulous post! Yes, getting my happy back is a definite goal of mine. When I’m frustrated with the industry or business, I even say out loud “Focus on what you love, Heather. Focus on the writing.” And when I get my head back in my WIP instead of checking my Amazon rankings, I’m a much happier person. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. I think unpublished authors get caught up in the same echo-chamber, whether it’s frustration over learning craft or in querying or listening to published authors discuss the dismal state of the publishing world.

    I joked with a friend that we should tattoo, in reverse, “Comparison is the thief of joy (and motivation)” on our foreheads, so that we had to read the quote every time we looked in a mirror. But it’s kind of true.

    Instead of getting a fascinating new-shiny idea, then second-guessing starting it because it might not be marketable, or finishing a ms and immediately worrying about what CP feedback will be or stressing over drafting a query, I’m reminding myself to stop, enjoy that heady rush of creating a new world or the satisfaction of finishing a project.

    Here’s to a happier 2019 for all of us.

  11. Gwyn says:

    Great post, Addison. I’m right there with you, trying to find the joy, the satisfaction that used to come with getting the people who live in my head onto the page. When did even the thought bring heaviness and dread? I’ve spent the past few years buried in editing and have concluded the drudgery of polishing rather than creating may be the problem. We’ll see. Lifting my coffee cup to joyous writing.

  12. Thank you for your post, Addison. So relatable, especially in the past year and a half or so. I’ve struggled to get my “happy” back, and finally did a couple months ago, and actually published a new project (yay, me! LOL). It’s a daily goal to make the writing a priority (a happy one), but I’m working on it. And that’s what matters, right? 🙂
    Happy 2019, everyone!


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