The Happiness of Pursuit. For Writers.

I haven’t read Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit, but Josh Kaufman has, and he summarized it on his site.

The point of the book seems to be that people will get a sense of purpose and joy from working towards big goals. It sounds like an interesting book. He interviewed people with a wide range of goals (travel, study, cooking). But I think any serious writer has already figured this out.

(Numbered points are from Kaufman’s summary.)

1. Happiness is often found in pursuit of a quest.

Does writing make me happy? Of course! It also makes me angry, cheerful, depressed, proud, frustrated, and pretty much every other emotion in my thesaurus. Sometimes in the same day.

2. Choosing a quest is a big decision.

Yes. If I’m going to devote a year or two to a single book, choosing which book is a big decision.

3. There are always risks – don’t let them stop you.

Well, I could get papercuts. Or repetitive stress injuries. Really, writing is pretty risk-free, since I don’t tend to come up with the sorts of stories that result in death threats.

4. There are always costs – count them.

This seems a good time to mention that Scrivener is on sale for Nanowrimo.

5. There are always tradeoffs – make them consciously.

I have nothing snarky to say here. This is absolutely true. The amount of time I spend writing, thinking about writing, hanging out with other writers, etc., adds up to a huge amount. My life is pretty centered around writing. Some of the tradeoffs are obvious (I’d get more gardening done if I spent less time writing), some unknowable (if I didn’t write, would I be more focused on my career? would I have had kids?).

6. Persistence will correct many errors. Keep moving.

Persistence and a great writing group!

7. Think big, plan big, act big.

I love epic series. But even flash fiction benefits from big ideas and innovative execution.

8. Every quest will change you forever.

This seems to apply better to the protagonists than to the writers. Every book and story teaches me something, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it changes me.

9. After you complete a quest, you’ll probably experience a post-quest funk. That’s normal.

Post-novel funk, anyone?

10. Quests are personal. Do it for you.

Because no one else is going to love my books as much as I do.

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