Writing With Joy

I saw a bumper sticker. It was a complicated one, so it was fortunate that I saw it on a parked car, while I was parking myself. It went into a long detail about how your thoughts become your words, which become your actions, which become your habits, which become your mark on the world, so think good thoughts.

This can apply to writing. As a lifelong, avid reader, I frequently say that the landscape of my mind was formed by the books I’ve read. It’s true that the foundations of this landscape, like that of any other human, are formed by how I was raised and the experiences I’ve had. But my picture of the world and my way of dealing with it are formed at least as much by what I’ve read. Movies and TV doubtless have some influence as well, but I have put much more reading into my head than any other media.

I’ve critiqued a lot of writing, also. And I find that many people seem to take the conflict part of their stories way too much to heart. Sometimes the story has gripping characters and an interesting premise, but the whole thing is drenched with unremitting gloom, sorrow and anguish. I usually can’t finish it, even though I know that it will come right in the end—there is just no hope along the way.

So here’s my advice for today. Write from joy. Write toward joy. Write with joy. Let it inform your work. Let there be hope and pleasure along the way. You can and should still have conflict, sorrow, loss and perhaps despair. But life is a curious thing: these things all happen to us, but in most lives, there is joy despite and alongside them. That is what makes us human.

Let joy become part of what you write, infusing everything your writing is and has to say. Let the joy you put into your work become part of someone else’s mental landscape. It will be a good work.

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