The Happy Writer

by Randy Murray on November 11, 2013

Can happy artists create? Do you need to have a tortured life in order to become a great artist?

I don’t believe that. I find that writers, artists, need curiosity. They need to develop an artistic vision, a way of seeing the world and expressing that vision. And they need to work at their art to hone their abilities to express it well. Being damaged or in pain isn’t a job requirement any more than a meeting a specific height requirement (You must be THIS tall to write for publication).

I have heard people worry that their lives were not tortured enough for them to become great writers. Their happiness was getting in their way. I don’t believe that. What might have been getting in their way was that writing is hard work, sometimes torture, and they avoid writing to stay happy.

I made that decision about golf. I took a golfing class in college—a physical education requirement (fencing was the other and I enjoyed it more). I did learn to play golf. And I saw that if I worked really hard at it that some day I might get better, perhaps good enough to really, really hate golf. So I stopped playing. I’m very happy that I don’t play golf. I am not a golfer.

I am happy. I live a happy life. That doesn’t mean that I’m ecstatic all of the time, that I am rapturously, gloriously, wonderfully joyous without exception. I mean that I enjoy my life, I don’t feel extreme pressures and concerns, and I have great hope that this state will continue. I’m a lucky guy.

But I am not satisfied with my writing. There’s the difference. While I am personally happy, there’s something, an itch, that makes me want to do better, to write, to tell stories, to express myself. I don’t write because I’m unhappy. I write because I am unhappy when I don’t write.

Don’t let happiness be an excuse for you to not write.

The Happy Writer by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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