Why It’s Harder To Write When You’re Happy


It’s easy to write when you’re riddled with angst, when you have so many feelings and so many feelings about those feelings you’re consumed by a maddening confusion. It’s easy when you can wax lyrical about disappointment and heartbreak; when you’re overflowing with emotional things to say; when all you want to do is drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes and channel your inner Hunter S. Thompson. It’s easy when you can lay everything out in terms of “existential” and “crisis” and “woe is me!”

But it’s not so easy to write when you’re happy. Not because you have less feelings or feelings about those feelings, or because your happy feelings are any less worthy of being written about than your sad feelings, but simply because being happy makes you want to do rather than respond. Being happy makes you want to go out and enjoy your happiness — there’s just no incentive for you to be crouching in half darkness over your notebook or laptop, muttering sinisterly and chain smoking for days on end without showering when you’re happy. Not that I’ve ever done any of that, I mean, I totally shower every day and stuff.

When you’re sad, one of your first instincts will often be analysis — why do I feel this way? What is actually happening here? How can I make myself feel better? Why doesn’t he/ she like me? Why can’t I get that dream job? Why did my father abandon me? OMG DO YOU ACTUALLY EXPECT ME TO GO TO THE SHOP TO BUY MORE ICE CREAM IN THIS STATE I’M IN? And in turn this analysis becomes your fingers tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard, which by and by becomes some sweet cash in your bank account.

Writing about bad feelings is also cathartic, in so far as getting shit off your chest (no matter how petty) is as therapeutic as it is self-indulgent. Moreover, going back and reading your emotional rants can often lead you to see JUST HOW SILLY YOU ARE BEING. You also get lots of sympathy from people who feel the same way, which makes you feel less alone and totally justified in your frivolous emotions. Moreover, you are passionate in these moments, foolhardy and reckless with your words and as a result you can be powerful and poetic to the point where you and others think WOW THAT’S POIGNANT.

When you’re happy: you don’t care why. You just are and it’s fabulous and you want to indulge it by running outside in fields of wildflowers, holding hands with your lover and throwing puppy dogs over rainbows. You want to prance through streets being overly nice to bank tellers and deli guys and spewing out meters and meters of colored scarves to make the neighborhood children laugh with delight. Maybe you’ll even make them some balloon animals.

Whatever it is that’s making you happy, you just want to enjoy it — you certainly don’t want to hole yourself up in a dank, windowless room writing moving things about your feelings, you want to be out FEELING THEM. You don’t want to talk; you want to do. You don’t want to reflect; you want to be. So it’s harder, much harder, to write when you’re happy. You know people want to read about your happiness, that yes, people will relate, just as they relate to your sadness. And you know that when you’re happy, you’ll rush through whatever it is you’re writing anyway, because you just want to thrust open a window looking down over a busy street and sing out to the crowd before you race down into the throng to embrace whatever it is that is making you so deliriously, distractingly, overwhelmingly happy. 

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image – redcargurl