Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

There’s a lot of unhappiness out there in Writelandia. As I blogged last month, many writers feel overwhelmed with tasks from turning around edits in ever-faster times, to promoting on social media, giving library talks, answering readers’ questions; dealing with our use of diverse characters, even accusations of cultural appropriation. If you’re indie publishing you add in hiring cover designers, professional editors and other help.

All while incomes seemingly dwindle before our eyes.

As I flagged last blog, next weekend my agent and I are presenting a session at the annual conference of Romance Writers of Australia. Our topic – getting back the joy of writing. Because yes, despite all of the above, writing should be creatively rewarding. This doesn’t mean you have to skip to the keyboard singing. But it shouldn’t feel like drudge work, as I’m hearing it does for too many writers

Like any profession, writing has challenges. They keep the work interesting. But writing should give you joy at least some of the time. Anything else is a recipe for burnout.

Among my favourite mood lifters are inspirational books and posters. One in particular has inspired me throughout my long writing career. You may have heard of The Desiderata. For many years it was believed found in an old Baltimore church and dated 1692. We now know it was written by American poet, Max Ehrman.

I’ve written this version to inspire writers. The italic lines are from the original poem. The interpretations are mine.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.

How else can writers listen to their inner voices and tune out the hurley-burley of modern life? By avoiding “loud and aggressive persons” you avoid the vexations of the spirit which are so bad for your creative work.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Comparisons are everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are filled with them, making you wonder how your own writing journey compares. The answer is, it doesn’t, nor should it. Aim only to exceed your own highest standards.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Celebrate your small milestones as well as your major successes. Content yourself with sharing your stories, even if the prizes elude you for the time being.

Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery.

Any writer looking at a publishing contract knows this only too well. Indies have many pitfalls they need to avoid.

Let this not blind you to what virtue there is: many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

A fortunate truth, providing writers with much to write about.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is perennial as the grass.

A cynic cannot write convincingly about love or any other human emotion. Only genuine emotion felt by the writer can move readers to laughter, tears and other vicarious experiences.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Age confers many blessings on writers, among them available time to follow your craft and a wealth of lived experiences from which you can draw.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Two occupational hazards of writing, and nowhere is strength of spirit more needed than when faced with a rejection.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.

Even if no-one else understands the drive to express yourself in words, you owe it to yourself to respect, nurture and explore your gift as fully as you can.

…whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

All writers share a common aspiration – to communicate. By sharing your stories you not only keep peace with your soul, you contribute to the pool of human understanding.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Do these words speak to you? Is there a point that touches you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below. It’s moderated to avoid spam but your comment can appear right away if you click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Happy writing,


@valerieparv on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday Oct 12 in Canberra for ACT Writers Centre

My new workshop, Making Your Book Work, details-

Comments on: "First Monday August 2019 – how can writers “strive to be happy?”" (18)

  1. Richard McClellan said:

    Valerie – Thanks for posting these words of wisdom, especially helpful for newbie writers like me. I especially enjoyed this one below.

    I found your blog through a mutual friend, Bob Sandoval, with whom I went to high school and shared one year at Berkeley. I am now working on my first contemporary romance novel, Return to Rainbow Ridge, scheduled to be self-published in December, and have my own website, I also have a Facebook page,

    I would like your permission to share this post on my blog and Facebook page. I try to share insights in the writing process, and in life, with readers and fans—whenever they finally show up. It’s a work in process, much closer to the starting line than you are.

    I’ll be glad to reference your website and email blog. I would be honored if you do the same, but that’s your call. Either way, I enjoy and value your comments here.

    Thanks again.

    Richard McClellan

    • Welcome Richard, yes Bob and Sandy are great role models for how to live life with joy. I’m happy for you to share this blog to inspire others, and wish you all success with your romance novel.

  2. Great advice as usual. The Desiderata has always inspired me. I used to have a poster of it.I must look to see here I stored it. It really applies to all things in life. I used to have it hanging beside my easel. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Thank you for the reminder, Valerie! I’ve been so caught up in editing and revising that I haven’t made time to write in ages! We aren’t like copywriters for whom writing is just a job. There can and should be joy in it! 🙂 Several stories are tickling the back of my brain, wanting my attention, most of which I think will be fun to write. At least, I hope so!

  4. I’d like to add that any way writers can express thremselves in words deserves respect. I began my career as a copywriter for – of al things – a hardware retailer. We can learn from any kind of writing we do.

    • *Apologizes to all the copywriters in the world* *blush* I didn’t mean any disrespect. Then again, I’ve always had a tendency to put my foot in my typewriter… 😀

  5. I understood your intent, Marion, All good.

  6. Marian Chivers said:

    One of my favourite pieces of writing, Valerie. I found it in my teens and regularly revisit. It speaks well, through you, to the writing world.

  7. What a lovely message — and such a clever way of delivering it.

    My favourite part is about not comparing ourselves to others. Social media has some wonderful attributes but it does make it too easy/tempting to compare our own success to the success of others. I often revisit those lines as a way to remind myself not to do it.

    Thank you for this post.

    • Thank you, yes it is an important point. I also use the quote to remind myself to avoid comparisons. So many factrs we don’t know about in people’s lives.

  8. mommycussesblog said:

    Love this! Comparison is a killer. Awesome post ❤

    • Thanks, and I so agree the only person we should compare ourselves to is us. Are we doing better than our last effort. Personal bests work for elite athletes after all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: