Can You Be Happy As An Unsuccessful Writer?

By on January 23, 2019

If you ask most writers what their dream is, it’s to be published. When you probe a little further, they mean traditionally published, or at least, successfully published. That is to say, most writers want people to read what they write.

Now the sad truth is that for many writers, this is a massive problem. For no matter how well they follow the rules, no matter how much time and effort they put into their writing they might still struggle to get more than a handful of people reading what they’ve poured their heart and soul into.

So is it really worth it? Is there a point where being an unsuccessful writer just isn’t worth the time, effort and anguish? Are we likely to look back on all those wasted years and think, ‘If only I had put all that energy into doing something else.’?

Of course, in reality, it is all up to the individual, and the only way of knowing whether you can be happy as an unsuccessful writer is to do a bit of soulsearching, find out what your intentions are, what goals you have and what drives you to write in the first place.

There is a famous quote about how important it is to be the star of your own movie. This is so apt when talking about writing. The universe is unimaginably vast, and the world is but a speck upon a speck within it. So even the greatest and most celebrated writers of all time are still relatively insignificant when we start to zoom out. So really, instead of focusing on how we can become them, we should instead zoom in on our own reality, our own slice of life however minuscule it is, and become the celebrated, joyful, satisfied star of it all.

If you write because writing is your passion. If you write because you want to tell a story even if no one is really listening. If you write because you find it beautifully cathartic and you aren’t driven by fortune and fame then it doesn’t matter if you never become successful (if successful is denied by having a mass readership), because you are happy and inspired and motivated regardless.

If however, every rejection crushes you a little more, and the writing process becomes slower and more painful. If you feel your inner critic taking over and you spend your life feeling worthless, ineffective and that all your efforts are wasted and in vain, it might be time to think about whether that’s how you want to spend your life. You might still be starring in it, but it certainly doesn’t look like you are heading for a happy ending.

At the end of the day, the most important thing, surely, is to try and fill your life with the things you enjoy - and if that’s writing, regardless of what happens with your writing after you’re done - then that’s all that really matters.

bethany cadman

Bethany Cadman -

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