Here on Author Marketing Institute, we talk a lot about increasing your earnings and becoming a stronger writer. One thing we haven’t touched upon so much is how to be happy with the work you’re doing. So many writers base their happiness on a paycheck. They’re overjoyed if they have a giant month on KDP, and they’re down in the dumps if they fail to make ends meet during another. This is a tough way to live. If the tragic ends of famous movie stars have taught us anything, it’s that money cannot buy you happiness.
So if it’s not about the dollar signs, what else should an author base his or her happiness around? True happiness comes from within not from without. It takes as much work to be happy as it does to tweak your keywords or format your Kindle book. There’s no one true formula, but there are a few things you can do as an author to improve your odds of a good mood. Here are six steps you can take to be happier as an author:
1. Cut Out Negative Thoughts
There are so many things you could worry about in your day-to-day life as an author. You could stress out about negative reviews, or worry about a writing day that simply isn’t up to snuff. There are emails to answer and book covers to choose. The writer’s life is not one without stress, but it doesn’t have to be one with perpetual worry.
It’s been said that 90 percent of the things you worry about never happen. People spend so much time fretting over the possibility that a one-star review could bring them down in the rankings or other such minutiae that it doesn’t matter if it actually happens or not. The damage has already been done. It’s the worrying that’s the problem.
Stop talking about negative things. When you catch yourself thinking something negative, try to turn it toward something positive. The less you concentrate on worrying about deadlines or sales, the more time you’ll have to simply be yourself.
2. Concentrate on the Parts You Enjoy
You got into writing because there was a part of it you enjoyed, right? If that’s the case, then you should spend most of your time that you think about writing on the parts that you like. Do you enjoy creating characters a lot more then you like crafting email autoresponders? Then you should be thinking and talking about the characters instead of complaining about the marketing. You can still do the marketing, just don’t focus on how frustrated it makes you. Use the annoying things as either learning experiences or bridges to the positive parts of your career.
If your friends would have a tough time identifying what it is you like about writing, then your brain is going to have the same problem.
3. Be Proud of Your Accomplishments
It makes sense that you might focus a lot more on problems then successes. After all, it’s the issues in your day-to-day life that make your fight-or-flight response kick in. There’s not much you can do to suppress these animal instincts, but you can make sure that when something good happens you give it the weight that it deserves.
When you accomplish something like finishing a book or reaching a certain level of sales, you should do something really great that you enjoy doing. For some, that could be a fancy meal. For others, that could be a weekend alone curled up with a fantastic new book. Reward yourself for all the great things that you do.
Once you’ve accomplished something, that can be a perpetual source of self-congratulation. In low moments, you can remind yourself of the great things you’ve already done. Having trouble writing book two? Pump yourself up by reminding your brain the hurdles you had to overcome to make book one a success. Along with your daily to-do list, consider coming up with a few reasons why you’re grateful that you’re a writer. You can include the things you’ve achieved thus far on that gratitude list.
4. Help Other Authors
There are few things that defuse a pity party faster than helping someone to make strides in their own career. There are so many great avenues for people to go and answer questions or teach someone about the intricacies of being a self-published author. You can go to the KBoards Writers Cafe or to one of several Facebook groups where beginners are asking multiple questions every single day. It’s like putting your time into the indie author helpline. You can’t think about your own troubles, because you’re too busy helping other people get through their own issues. It’s a great way to generate a positive feeling even when you aren’t very happy with your current circumstances.
5. Get a Weekly Pep Talk
It’s very important to surround yourself with people who will push you to your limits, but sometimes you just need to be around a positive group of individuals. Reach out to your most encouraging friends or peers, and make sure you connect with them on a weekly basis. This group isn’t the venue for finding out the next great series idea, but it is one of the best ways to be happier and healthier. If you can’t get such a group together live, then go back to your most positive and inspiring emails that you’ve received from fans, friends, and fellow authors. Whether you’re talking to your friends or you’re combing through your inbox, the messages of positivity you receive can help you out of the darkest of times.
6. Value Your Energy Sources
If you shortchange the things that provide you energy, then you can’t help but feel a little bit down. Obviously, when you eat unhealthy food and don’t sleep enough, it’s easy to get into a rut, but beyond that, there are many sources of energy you might not consider. Having a creative outlet beyond writing alone will help you to better express yourself. Inspirational stories or pump-up music can take you from a 2 to a 10 in no time. Creating clear goals for yourself that fulfill your greater life purpose can give you enough energy to work all the way through the night.
Value all your potential sources of energy, and make sure to give yourself lots of options when you’re at your best. Have some veggies in the fridge and some jaunty tunes on your phone. Take that painting class even if you’re busy and write down your January goals one more time. Being happy as an author is about taking care of yourself, and having every possible energy source at your disposal is a great way to do it.
Happiness Takes Hard Work
Consistent happiness isn’t easy for anyone in any profession. You’ll need to make it part of your daily or weekly routine if you want to avoid burnout or work-induced depression. Thankfully, you’re working in one of the most supportive creative communities of all time. When you combine reaching out to your peers with the internal work of gratitude and positive thinking, you’ll be able to make happiness an everyday thing.