Is Happiness Bad for Your Writing?

I’ve heard many people say that sadness, bad moods and down days help them in their writing. The idea that sad people write beautiful things and that happy people don’t write with depth seems prevalent in some online communities. In these blog posts, I’m often interested in the links between day to day life and writing life, especially because for me, these can seem utterly distinct sometimes.

But the idea that happiness can kill the writing bug has started to prickle at me. Is this true? If it is, can you stay happy and still write well? These are my solutions to stopping your everyday mood (happy or sad) from having a negative effect on your writing mood.


1. Positivity begets positivity.

If you’re one of those people who have been told that happy people can’t write well, remember that moods and life events often go in a cycle. How many times does a run of fifty bad things come all at once? And then, just as weirdly, once one thing starts to look up, everything else follows. Being positive and happy in your work, relationship and daily life begets being positive about your writing. In other words, don’t let the critics get you down. Stay happy.

2. Track your moods.

Awful day at work? Writing in the early hours of a long, tiring day and wondering why your story suddenly took an unusually dark turn? Writing is often about turning the internal into the external, and if those insides are tired, mad or sad, then quite often the writing will be too. Make a note of the days when you don’t feel great, and the days when you feel on top of the world, and see how the writing differs.

3. Your writing is a part of you.

Your moods, your outlook, your voice—they are what form your writing and your viewpoint. Whatever they are, it’s much better to embrace them than to fight against them. Write the way you feel you must write, whether it’s from a place of happy or sad, and own it.

We all have our dips and peaks in mood, and if you’re embroiled in a long term writing project, there’s no doubt that these moods will creep into it. But sometimes, that’s the best part of writing. It helps you see where you came from and how you’ve grown.


Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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