8 Ways to Be a Happy Author

Happy authors1. Write primarily because it’s what you love to do.

2. Resist comparing yourself to others. When you find yourself doing it—pull yourself back, pray, meditate, practice mindfulness or whatever you do to find calm, and remind yourself of all the reasons comparison is futile.

3. Understand that getting published for the first time is exciting and worth celebrating, but will not make you a different person. You will still be you.

4. Refuse to idolize your own words. Let them be edited and made better from the input of smart people. Happily throw away the ones that aren’t good enough.

5. When you start thinking this whole pursuit-of-publishing path is hard, give yourself a reality check. Crab fishing is hard. Neurosurgery is hard. Being a fighter pilot is hard. You can do this.

6. Expect bumps in the road and determine to handle them, rather than letting each obstacle plunge you into an emotional pit. If you DO fall into the pit, climb out as quickly as you can.

7. Dream big and keep your expectations high, but manage your response to adversity.

8. Remember that writing is a gift and a privilege. Just the fact that you write means you are literate, you have a computer, and you have something to say. Celebrate that!

What are some other ways to be a happy author?



Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Writing Links - Caroline Starr Rose on February 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM

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  4. Jacqlyn Mori on March 21, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Brief and helpful article…thanks for the reminders!

  5. Bli lycklig som författare | Emelie Schepp on March 21, 2013 at 3:58 AM

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  6. Geoffrey Cubbage on March 19, 2013 at 3:05 AM

    I recommend drinking heavily.

  7. Danielle Forrest on March 4, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Wow, that’s a lot of comments. And I tried but gave up on reading them all…

    I guess I would add, remember the comments that make you smile as they’ll be part of the strength you need to get through the rough patches when everything feels so dark.

    I got a couple of wonderful comments on my writing in the last couple of days that really helped me to get back into my editing (total drudgery for me).

    “I like what I see, and I don’t offer that frivolously. In my work as a publisher and executive editor, I read more manuscripts than I can count. Reading your first chapter would make me want to consider the book for publishing. Out of up to 80 or 100 manuscripts per day, there would only be at best one or two a week that I’d read a bit further. I’d pose a rough guess that about 95% of what I saw needed more work than I could offer.

    You’re starting off really, really well.”

    And another:

    “Really good writing, by the way.”

  8. Leigh Moore on February 26, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Excellent reminders. Thanks! :o) <3

  9. Mehmet Arat on February 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Thank you for the very good advice.
    To be a happy author.
    To be a happy writer.
    To be happy while writing.
    All sounds good.
    But can it be possible to be happy completely with all the storms in your head?
    Even when you are published and satisfied with your previous works, wouldn’t your thoughts create new conflicts in your mind?
    A writer can be happy only with the love of writing.
    But “There is no happy love.”

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  11. Magpie Monday | Robert E. Stutts on February 18, 2013 at 4:52 AM

    […] Rachelle Gardner has 8 ways to be a happy author. Excellent advice, though sometimes easier said than done. Still worth taping over your writing desk and referring to often. Gardner also gives some practical answers to the question, Who should read your unpublished work? […]

  12. Peter DeHaan on February 16, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Rachelle, I needed the perspective you wisely gave for #5 — and #8 was a nice bonus. Thanks so much.

  13. Weekend Links 2/15/13 « Nearly Missed It on February 15, 2013 at 7:31 PM

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  14. Bonnie Doran on February 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    Thanks for the advice, Rachelle.

    My issue is usually the bumps in the road, which at first seem like potholes that will swallow the whole car. Friends help me keep things in perspective.

    I keep reminding myself that this whole publishing thing is God’s idea. I leave it in His hands, take it back, leave it in His hands . . .

  15. The List List #44 on February 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    […] at Rachelle Gardner’s blog, 8 Ways to Be a Happy Author […]

  16. […] 8 Ways To Be A Happy Author […]

  17. Jessica on February 15, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    Thank you for this post, Rachelle. I always have to remind myself of number 6, but instead of being plunged into an emotional pit, I just stop altogether.

    As for other ways to be a happy author, I would say keep a supportive network around you and USE THEM, whether it’s for emotional support, ranting about your writer’s block, or just someone to bounce ideas off of.

    And a good cup of tea doesn’t hurt, either.

  18. Cindy Pye on February 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    I needed to “hear” that! Thank you so much for such great advise. I have been writing since I was in junior high school, but only in the past year have begun pursuing my writing career. This is very timely advise for me.

  19. Sidney Ross on February 14, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    CHRIST 🙂 happy (V)alentine ARRIVAL(advent)

  20. Sidney Ross on February 14, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    #8) Because I have something to say.

    There you go again, making me love you. I love your advent over content I love that my walk follows you, I love that my time is your time the bombs the missiles ye place on my head I love that you know the gray of my mind and in keeping with you I watch over that gray, I cross my heart loving you hope to die loving you. Oh Jesus/Lord, there you go, making me love you, again.

  21. Cherry Odelberg on February 14, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    A good walk always helps me. Thanks for sharing these positive reminders.

  22. SC Skillman on February 14, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Thank you for your encouraging post, Rachelle. I find a good way to be a happy author is to be a member of a writers group and/or a writers organisation such as the one I belong to, ACW (Association of Christian Writers). The ACW Facebook Page is excellent – I feel as if I’m chatting with others at a writers conference, & part of a community of people all sharing my own values. Some recent responses I’ve received to my posts have been so uplifting.

  23. Doug Thompson on February 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    #10 – Only you can tell that story that’s bouncing around in your head!

  24. Craig Soffer on February 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    This piece is really what many writers (myself include) often need to hear. Very well done. I shared it on my Facebook page, too. It’s the kind of piece you need to re-read after every rejection letter.

  25. Deb Hathaway on February 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    I struggle most with #2!

    When I read someone else’s work and have to say, “Damn, that was written so well”, my confidence is shaken. Then I remind myself I write differently, with a unique voice all my own. That doesn’t make mine worse, just different. I appreciate a well crafted sentence, embrace the fact it’s not my style and move on.

    Thank heavens I have made the decision to write my book for me. If anyone else wants to read it and gets enjoyment from it, that’s a bonus.

    I have posted an excerpt on my blog if anyone is interested in seeing what I mean.

  26. Terry Shames on February 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Great post! I have one thing to add to #6: Have a good writing pal you can go to when you are in “the pit.” Someone who understands what you are going through and will give you a shoulder to cry on.

    Regarding #3. Maybe it doesn’t make me a different person, but it sure feels different!

  27. Darlene Lund on February 14, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Spot on!
    My motive for writing keeps me in check!

  28. Kate Brauning on February 14, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Great advice! Sometimes I have to chant “Keep your eyes on your own plate. Their success does not diminish mine. They worked hard for this; now you go work hard for it, too.”

  29. Aidyl on February 14, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    I don’t know if you ever enter writing contests or not, but I’m hosting one on my blog and would be delighted if you wanted to enter it. =)

  30. Connie Almony on February 14, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Thanks,as always,for your wonderful, real and encouraging posts.

  31. John w Howell on February 14, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    As I rewrite my novel and wonder if this kind of thing is what I really want to do, along comes Rachelle with eight very good reasons to be happy. I am clinging to number eight as the pivot. Love this. – John

  32. […] via 8 Ways to Be a Happy Author – Rachelle Gardner. […]

  33. Heather Wright on February 14, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Loved the list! Another thing that keeps me a happy writer is having some writing buddies who ‘get’ the writing life. Writing is a solitary art, and I treasure the fact that I have people in my life that I can talk to about what I do. We support each other and I’m always learning from them. Do I know how lucky I am? YES!

  34. Angie Bigler on February 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Yes, this is just what I needed to hear this morning. I was feeling overwhelmed about my writing yesterday and today I begin fresh and thankful for the gifts it brings.

  35. […] 8 Ways to Be a Happy Author […]

  36. J.M. Bray on February 14, 2013 at 2:52 AM

    Don’t get so fixated on the “end goal” that you miss the wonderful journey. Enjoy the process.

  37. miriam sarzotti on February 14, 2013 at 2:30 AM


    I laughed out loud at #8 about being literate and owning a computer! How true we take these for granted. I even shared it with my Facebook writer friends so they could enjoy it! I enjoy your blog as you write such pertinent posts for us writers.

  38. Erich Kreppenhofer on February 14, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    What a great posting…I think most of us go through most of these phases at one point in our writing life…Thanks for reminding me…

  39. Jean Ann Williams on February 14, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    You are always uplifting with your words!

  40. R.A.Savary on February 14, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Thanks Rachel. It took me a while, but I finally realized I should pay more attention to the blogs that appeal to the writer in me than the promoter.

    My dad always said your work speaks for itself; of course he wasn’t talking about writing – at least, I didn’t know he was, at the time.

  41. Jan Thompson on February 14, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    “4. Refuse to idolize your own words. Let them be edited and made better from the input of smart people. Happily throw away the ones that aren’t good enough.”

    Good one! After working really hard to get a scene “perfected,” it’s hard to see it discarded because it doesn’t fit at the rewrite. Must step back, and let it go. (It might resurrect itself in the next book.)

    Here’s one more I can think of:

    9. Keep everything in perspective. There is life outside of writing.

  42. Nikole Hahn on February 13, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Coffee! That’s my answer to being a successful author…and good coffee.

  43. Helen Tisdale on February 13, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Rachelle, I am so glad to have seen this today! I too, am copying it to have at hand everyday! I am a brand new blog writer & I really needed to see these points you gave! Thankyou!

  44. Natalie Sharpston on February 13, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    #9. A happy author = a learning author. A growing author.

    Being a writer means you’re never to old to learn and grow. The pleasure of learning never ends! (It hurts sometimes, too.) Look behind you to see how far you’ve come. Look ahead to anticipate the adventure and unknown. What a blast!

  45. Mike on February 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    All good points. I welcome editors with open arms!

  46. Carol J. Garvin on February 13, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Such good reminders! I accomplish #1 daily, but #8 made me smile. Yes, I own my words, but am always so thankful for the source of their inspiration, the privilege of my freedom to write them, and the joy they bring me. “In every thing give thanks.”

  47. Justin on February 13, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    And if you’re not going to make any money from it you may as well enjoy it. Write something that spins your wheels

  48. Lucille Zimmerman on February 13, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    I agree with everything you put in this list. In fact, #3 reminds me of this blog post I recently wrote.

    My first book is a week away from my front porch but I know a published book will not make me happy.


  49. Peggy Dover on February 13, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Number 6! I used to disappear into a hole with every refusal. Now when one comes along, I feel it more as a “Dip in Road”, which reminds me of an old Mad Magazine cartoon of my brother’s and then I laugh. Forward march.

  50. Aurora on February 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    YES. I loved my book but when I got my editors comments I realized quickly that I was stupid and she was smart. She made my book go from good to great!

  51. Ryan LaForge on February 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    How about, “Always have fun with your writing!” In the final analysis, there’s no reason to do anything–job, hobby, or whatever–if you’re not having fun. I tell my first-grade daughter, regarding her soccer team, it doesn’t matter who’s winning, who’s scoring, who’s on the pitch. If you’re not having fun, there’s no reason to be out there!

  52. Julie Luek on February 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    I’m printing this out and pinning it up on my wall. Perfection.

  53. Dale S. Rogers on February 13, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I believe it helps if we let the writing itself be part of the reward. It’s such a fulfilling experience when everything comes
    together, and I still enjoy reading most of my work as I continue to strive for perfection.

  54. Heidi Eljarbo on February 13, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Thank you. Such positive words. I need a spring cleaning of my mind now and then to think fresh, uplifting thoughts.

  55. Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) on February 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Love this.

    I’d add, “Don’t forget where you come from. Those are the people who will love you regardless.”

    Thanks, Rachelle. My first book comes out May 1, so this is a timely reminder.

  56. Melanie Schulz on February 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    THank you, I needed that reminder. Especially #1

  57. Vannetta chapman on February 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Love your post. All great points. Regarding #5, I remember Barbara Kingsolver saying “laying asphalt in the summer is hard work. Writing? Much easier.” It’s good to keep that perspective.

  58. Katie Oostman on February 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Knowing how you work is extremely important.

    What is the word count you consistently produce? What is the best environment for productivity?

    When you know those things about your own psychology, you can make a more creatively conducive environment.

    Thus, happier writer!

  59. Jeanne T on February 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I loved these tips to be a happy author, especially number 4. I think I would add to remember that my writing–progress, abilities, etc–does not define me. This helps me weather the ups and downs on this journey a little more smoothly.

  60. Meghan Carver on February 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Terrific list, Rachelle. I’m printing it and keeping it close to my computer for future reality checks and encouragement.

  61. Dan Erickson on February 13, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    You’ve mentioned eight great points. I’ve never compared myself to other writers. I have as a songwriter, but since I started writing books a couple of years ago in my mid 40s, I just found no use or reason for comparisons. A few other reasons:

    Writing reduces stress.
    Writing is therapeutic.
    Writing helps us discover ourselves.

    Rather then thinking about writing for financial or commercial success, I think what writing does for us personally is key to how we can be happy writers.

  62. Sue Harrison on February 13, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    I love these, Rachelle. #8 is wonderful! I would add a corollary to #2 – Celebrate the work of others. You’ve directed me (and all your readers) to so many great books, and I love falling into quiet inner celebration as I read their words and contemplate their ideas.

    • Elissa on February 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Oh, I completely agree with your proposed corollary Sue! Enjoy the work of other writers. Soak it up. Learn from them. Be inspired by them.

      All writers must be readers first or they won’t be very good writers.

      • Beth K. Vogt on February 14, 2013 at 2:49 AM

        Chiming in and agreeing with you, Sue. Even if I’ve had a less than hip-hip-hooray kind of writing day, it always excites and rejuvenates me to celebrate another writer’s success!

  63. Wendy Paine Miller on February 13, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    I love these. Really love them.

    #1 is likely my favorite. It always comes back to #1 for me.
    ~ Wendy

  64. Ginger on February 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    I don’t comment much, but read regularly. I needed this today, thank you.

  65. Rita Kroon on February 13, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Hey Rachelle, You started my writing time at the computer with a 8 reasons to celebrate! Thanks. I started my day with the Lord, but my writing time with your advice! Hooray!

  66. Richard Mabry on February 13, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Great advice, Rachelle. And for those who get that first (or second or third) contract, realize that there will be continued bumps along the road–edits, deadlines, marketing. But be grateful you have the opportunity to travel that road.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  67. Lisa Bartelt on February 13, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    #1 is so important, I’ve found. When I’m writing for a job just to make money, I find much less joy in it than when I’m writing for the pure love of writing. I find I’m a happier writer when I’m in the company of other writers. I’m reminded that I’m not alone (or the only weird one!) and that other people appreciate the same things I do. Very encouraging post! Thank you!

    • Gerri Wetta Hilger on February 16, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      Related to #1 and all is to write about what you love—not what you think others want or will sell. Doing that is untrue to yourself and false