ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write Yourself Happy

Updated on April 23, 2019
AliceLamWriter profile image

I write fiction and health content. I'm a beta reader. I’ve been published in anthologies. Read more stories at my website.


Theory Of Happiness

Psychologist Martin Seligman is an expert on happiness. In his PERMA model he recommends that we maximise five elements that promote happiness for an individual. The following is an excerpt from his Positive Psychology Program:

"Positive Emotion
Engagement - entirely absorbs us into the present moment
Accomplishments - realistic goals and ambition can give you a sense of satisfaction. When you finally achieve those goals a sense of pride and fulfillment will be reached."

Creative activities can offer a level of engagement and accomplishment, and through creativity often meaning can be found.

Here are some common misconceptions that have crushed many an aspiring writer's spirit.


It won’t make me any money

According to this article, the average annual income is $61,820 for writers. Another article found that in a group of successful authors earning $100k+ per year, 20 percent continued to work to support their writing; in the emerging author group earning <$500 per year, 66% were working or being financially supported.

So yes, most of us following the writing life probably won’t get rich enough to retire early, but many writers are able to make a reasonable living.


Isn’t writing for enjoyment something for kids?

As life takes over, many of us ‘leave childish things behind’ to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, in order to focus on getting qualifications or vocational skills. Then commitments make demands of our time, and pragmatic productivity trumps creativity.


Isn’t it a waste of time?

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If we see ourselves spending the weekend knee-deep in household chores for instance, that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For a pragmatic look at beating the clock, check out author and writing guru Joanna Penn's advice.


I’d feel guilty if I sat on my own, in my own head

Good writers leave the house and go outside to observe (all right, sometimes eavesdrop) and be inspired by nature. Plus, writing doesn’t have to be in a dingy corner. Joanna Penn (above) likes to write in cafes, as do many authors.

In addition, writing can be a highly social activity in other ways:

  • Writers' groups - face-to-face through Meetup or other networks.

  • Online such as through the ever-increasing number of Facebook groups. As a member of more than seven Facebook writers’ groups (notwithstanding some overlap) we add us up to a massive 92,748.


Where’s the excitement?

  • Contests. Deadlines, themes and prompts. Prizes can be just seeing your name and work in print, or being a runner-up or winner of an international contest. Being a runner-up in that contest opened the door to my first publication (link below). Even money. £30,000 is on offer for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The Australian Writers’ Centre runs a free monthly flash fiction contest with $500 up for grabs, and it’s open to anyone anywhere in the world.

  • Publication - magazines, literary journals, books.

  • Collaborating with other writers in anthologies. This can be a great way of having your story published whilst being part of a mutually supportive group.

  • Writing marathons. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a non-profit mission to get writers put down their words with fervour. As their website states, “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30”.

  • Sharing your creations with friends and family.


How do I start?

  • Cast aside preconceptions and negative self-talk. “I don’t know what I’m doing”, “It’ll probably be rubbish” are excuses to avoid risking failure. There is no failure if you’re just trying, just practising, just having fun.

  • Think about what you like to read. What stories or authors draw you into their worlds? What genres do you most enjoy – thrillers, cosy mysteries, sci-fi? Romance, horror or historical fiction? Or are you more interested in the truth of things? In that case, you might like to think of memoir writing.

  • Don’t forget your local library. A huge range of ebooks and audiobooks are available online.

  • It’s just you plus a pen and paper or computer. Or dictating into your smartphone.

  • If you aren’t ready to start on your 80,000 word novel yet, try flash fiction. That’s very short stories, a famous example being Ernest Hemingway’s poignant six-word story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

  • Write a little every day or every week… it’s all up to you. Write 400 words per day, or 3,000.


What tools are available to support me?

  • Read, or listen to audiobooks. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” states Stephen King in his inspirational how-to book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”.

  • By reading widely, your creative soul will gorge on an almost infinite range of authorial voices and story. And as Oscar Wilde said, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not plagiarism, of course, but more like a student learning from how their master makes the smoothest moves.

  • If you want to ensure you work is free of technical errors, there are a number of apps such as Grammarly and Hemingway. For fans of typing, I mainly use Google Docs (free) and Scrivener (reasonable cost).

  • Writing courses. How to present an opening sentence that hooks the reader? How about theme, plot and character development, setting, dialogue and symbolism?. Some courses are free, like this one or this one.

  • Beta readers. I offer a beta reading and critique service and love it as much as I do writing. A beta reader has a good look at work before it is ready for editing pre-publishing. Friends and family might be the first people you think of, but for obvious reasons they may be positively biased towards you. A beta reader doesn’t have to be writer themself, just someone who is happy to read your draft and give an honest opinion, though a writer can give extra perspective and more depth to feedback. Beta readers can be found through online forums such as Fiverr and some Facebook groups.


John Gardner's book is an example of gentle instruction that will help you craft a rich story.

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
I've learnt so much from this book. There is a wealth of advice here. Not just for "Young Writers" as it says on the cover!

© 2019 Alice Lam


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)