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Writing on Happiness in Writing

This is what celebrated writer Colm Toibin has to say about writing and its emotional content:

“Oh there’s no pleasure. Except that I don’t have to work for anyone who bullies me. I write with a sort of grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult and this means, I think, that pleasure is out of the question.”

This, the rest of the interview, and the opinions of some famous authors set me thinking about how I feel about my writing, what part gives me joy. I have to say that there are days when squeezing one word out is an agony, but I suppose I live for the days when I can’t stop writing and the floodgates open.

I also write hoping to surprise myself. I have gone back to things I’d written a decade ago, and gone: “Wow, I wrote that?”

I don’t think I write for the joy of writing however. I write because if I don’t, it creeps into my work and my life. I suddenly start inventing characters and events in real life, and that, as we all know, is called “lying” !

Writers are usually known to be a neurotic, unhappy lot, perpetually longing for something: that word, that sentence, that finished draft, that agent, publication, success, awards. But in my mind, here is some very good advice to all writers, most of which I have internalized some time back, other than no. 3 and no. 6 perhaps.

Go read the Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer!

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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4 Comments

  • Sarah Jensen says:

    Then I am truly lucky. I LOVE WRITING! I really take great pleasure from it. It’s almost like a drug to me. I even enjoy editing. Maybe more than I should.

    I do sometimes get irritate with characters and where they want things to go. But I do love it.

  • Silver1 says:

    I don’t think anyone writes for pleasure. Either you have to do it–or you don’t. It is as simple as that.

  • Tara Maya says:

    I think I do write from joy of writing. At any rate, I do experience joy while writing. Not always. At times, I hate, I growl at my story, I loathe what I’ve written and despair of it. But other times, I’m so excited by a scene, I jump up out of my chair and, literally, dance for joy.

    This is the main reason I must write locked alone in my room. I look like an utter idiot.

  • Debra Young says:

    I write because I fell in love with reading, I daydream all the time, imagining stuff that doesn’t exist, and once I started writing, I was a goner. It is tough at times–more times than I’d like to admit–but I couldn’t stop doing it for all the world, regardless of the frustration that sometimes occurs. d:)

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