Keep the Joy on your Journey

As a writer on a rather tumultuous journey, I wish I’d been told, somewhere along the way, that no matter what happens, keep the joy.

We get so wrapped up in the conquest, the achievements, the pursuit, that we often forget about happiness, fulfillment. That our emotional well-being plays a huge role in our overall success.

My dream is to become a published novelist. When it didn’t happen after one too many road blocks, I turned my back on writing. The burden of failure was so heavy that I couldn’t even find the joy I used to feel when I penned stories. Or maybe it wasn’t that I couldn’t find it. Maybe I figured enjoying writing was pointless if I couldn’t make my dream come true.

But if we can’t pave the path to our goals with joy, then that is pointless.

Mind you, even the best dreams have their downsides. There is no perfect job, no perfect career, no perfect life. But I have found that my soulful reasons for chasing my dream will get me through even the worst circumstances. When things aren’t going so hot and I’m losing faith, I ask myself things like:

  • Why am I on this particular journey?

  • What about my dream makes me come alive?

  • What fulfills me as I’m striving to reach my goals, even when those goals seem impossible to reach and I feel like I have not a drop of energy left?

  • Is my dream worth the junk, the crap, the hardships I have to endure?

Once I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to get my novel published, I actually moved forward with my writing career. There are many sites and platforms out there to help with career searching. I published some of my other work. I got into freelancing and I coach other writers on their fiction and non-fiction. I write for small business owners. I teach creative writing to kids in after-school enrichment programs.

Through all of this, I found the joy again. I missed writing so much that it made me sick in mind, body, and soul. That’s how I realized that the true joy, for me, is in the act, the process of writing. And now that I know what I love best about the craft, I’m back to pursuing my dream to be a novelist. The goals haven’t changed, but my attitude has.

Dream. Dream big if you want to. Be prepared for a long, hard chase. But make sure your trek is filled with other wonders, too. Wonders that will make your journey worth every stumble.


How about you? Are you keeping the joy in your journey?



52 thoughts on “Keep the Joy on your Journey

  1. “Maybe I figured enjoying writing was pointless if I couldn’t make my dream come true.”

    I’ve been there. More than once. But you’re absolutely right, Attitude IS everything. A quote by Lou Holtz I have across the top of my white board reads:
    Ability is what you’re capable of doing.
    Motivation determines what you do.
    Attitude determines how well you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is something everyone has to discover for themselves. Over the past few years I have been trying to embrace the motto “Life on my own terms” which is also about keeping the joy. It’s about recognizing the journey and celebrating who I am rather than trying to define my success and myself by other people’s definitions. It isn’t always easy, but when I am fully in that mindset, the joy abounds. Thank you for the reminder of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your motto. I think that we all need to find our own rhythm in our own race. I know that in the beginning I joined a race where the rules and boundaries and expectations were set by others with completely different abilities, personalities, and perspectives. Once I realized I can set my own speed and path, I’m much happier.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an important reminder, and a lesson I had to learn as well. I had been working on a writing project that was restricting me creatively for so long. As soon as I let go of it and reminded myself of why I wanted to write it and write in general, I started writing different projects too. Sometimes we focus so much on the path we believe is right that we miss the other ways of traveling. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Letizia. While it’s important to be focused and motivated, we can’t lose sight of why we chose writing in the first place (or, in some cases, why it chose us). Not enough merit is given to simple happiness, but it truly is the most important ingredient in a successful journey.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The road to publishing is a very long road that isn’t paved. It’s bumpy as heck with deep pot holes everywhere. It will test you, make you shout from the rooftops, cause outbursts that would rival any 2 year old, and bring both tears of heartbreak and joy. It sucks. *But*, it’s also awesome when it finally happens. Don’t give up. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you so much for this post! It couldn’t have come at a better time. I am right there on abandoning my writing. I feel defeated and such, but this post has made me rethink this and I plan on getting rid of my pressure ridden goals. I will now focus on smaller more attainable goals. Thanks so much!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miles, I’m glad you found this post helpful and inspiring. That was definitely my intention, as are most of my posts on the writing quest.

      I feel strongly that the most worthy dreams are the most difficult to achieve. We are tested beyond our seeming limits, because the universe knows what we are truly capable of. If you love writing, then definitely don’t give up. Seeking out smaller, winnable goals for now is the way to go, and they will help get you closer to the pie-in-the-sky dream. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Is my dream worth the junk, the crap, the hardships I have to endure?”—I imagine many writers ask this same question. The writing, the revisions, the self-doubt, the rejections–they take a toll and dampen our enthusiasm. But I love what you say here: “The goals haven’t changed, but my attitude has.” That’s an eye-opener to us all, and something for us to remember when we need to readjust our own thinking about the process.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so easy to lose heart when nothing seems to go your way. But, I have come to the understanding that this circuitous path I’m on has allowed me to gain more confidence and wisdom, and to hone my writing skills. I certainly see this field in a different light these days.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Right. There are still those downer days I have to trudge through, but rather than fearing them I accept them. Having an off day spiritually doesn’t mean my career is in shambles or that I’m on the wrong path. It simply means I’m having an off day. That’s when I don’t try to write and I do something else, like gardening or hiking or playing with my kids. This way the joy of writing isn’t trampled on by my negativity.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great timing on this post, Kate, because I definitely need the reminder to keep the joy in my writing. I made good progress earlier this year, but March’s events sapped my energy and stole that feeling away. That’s probably one reason why I’m still stuck on the last scenes needed to complete the draft of the WIP. I started thinking too much again about the desire to be published rather than focusing on the enjoyment of writing. Thank you for the reminder about getting my priorities back in order!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you, JM. I can’t deny that the desire to be published is a force within me. Some days it’s a stronger force than others. But I know that if I give into it too much, then I’m going to be sucked in by hard-to-reach or impossible goals. I truly want to get the most out of everything I’m learning and experiencing. If I spend my time bemoaning the fact my novel is still unpublished, how can I enjoy my work, much less gain from it?

      I’m glad this post helped you back on your path. Now, skip along! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very inspiring post Kate – those are great questions to ask when you’re feeling doubt and it’s wonderful that you’ve found so many ways to keep writing in your life while waiting for your ultimate dream to come true.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not paying attention to the rejection. Once again, I met new people (parents of children at my son’s school) at a week-long event) this past week. When asked what I did, I felt the need to explain my life history, not just saying that I write fiction for adults and kids. When someone asked if I was published, I struggled to explain that much of my nonfiction is published, but I had yet to crack the fiction world. I was able to say that I now have an agent. But so much of it feels like I have to justify my writing existence. It’s not a good feeling. As I wait to hear from Squaw Valley Writers, I wonder just why it is I don’t feel like a “real” writer. Perhaps I’m just in a low spot at the moment. Perhaps I’ll feel better about myself tomorrow.


    • I know, oh how I know, what you’re struggling with. I still struggle with that very issue — talking about being a non-published writer. People tend to stare at me like I’ve grown horns. I mean, I have a few articles and a short story published — and they’re important but not enough for me to hold my head up high.

      When I talk about being a writer, I direct attention to my creative writing programs for kids, as that is current and ongoing and tends to pique interest. Granted, I know I’m highlighting this aspect so that people won’t ask me about my novels, but the programs are still just as important to me so it’s not that much of a bail. 😉

      Jilanne, getting an agent is a monumental step in this journey. Focus on that and be proud of yourself. You’re that much closer to your big goal.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I so agree with you about keeping an eye on the joy. It’s easy to get bogged down by the pressures of achievement–and for me I have to remind myself what achievements are important to me.Because I can also get lost in worrying about other people’s markers of achievement–especially if I believe I’m not living up to that standard. Yes, got to focus on the joy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Coleen, you raise an excellent point about other people’s markers of achievement. So many people ask if I’m published once I talk about being a writer, and that’s enough to make me think like I can’t be calling myself a writer if my novels aren’t published!

      The joy helps a lot, doesn’t it. But it needs to be nurtured. It can’t do a thing for us if we don’t give it the attention it deserves.


  11. Absolutely lovely, lovely! You know I’ve had plenty of ups and downs with this writing path. I took a pretty long creative break by reediting my first two books this past year.

    I finally said that I would start a new WIP at the beginning of April. At first I was reluctant, because of the lack of free time. Then, I realized I was sucking the joy right out of it before I even started. Rather than giving myself first draft deadlines, I have decided to take it slow. If I only write 5-10k words per month…so be it. It’s all progress, and I’m really enjoying the journey so far.

    Liked by 2 people

    • While deadlines are important, if they create too much pressure, then ditch the deadline. I think you were smart to do that. I remember just immersing myself in the first draft of my novel, and it was pure heaven. I’ve never felt quite like that since, but I’m also a lot more aware of goals and aspirations. Now, I can feel the joy while still working toward a small goal. I’ve got the big goals, but they’re not in my daily vision, and that helps me a lot.

      I love what you say here: “If I only write 5-10k words per month…so be it. It’s all progress, and I’m really enjoying the journey so far.” Right on!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Dear Kate,
    This is one of the best posts I have ever read on writing. I know all about the hard work and facing your fears, the rejection and social media platforms. But it is also important to remember that in life the journey is as important as the destination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we forget that the destination probably won’t happen or is 100 times more difficult if we don’t thoroughly enjoy the process. Life is too short to spend it on the doom and gloom. I’m finally learning that, and I’m much better for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sometimes the joy slips when we as self published authors have to do everything else involved besides writing to bring our books to the world. The joy is in the writing for me, and then after looking back at my accomplishments when they’re done. Sometimes in between I long for the joy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hard day at the desk today, Kate. Thanks for writing this. Isn’t it interesting how writing can help just one person? I hope you know what you do makes a difference, that what you do and write has helped me tremendously (please find joy in that 🙂 I wrap my worth too much into the publishing part and am constantly trying to stay “up” when the rejections are so effective in making me feel “down.” Ugh. I’m going outside now, to a track meet, to watch my 5th grader run the 800. She’s three seconds away from making state. As I think about your post, I hope she’s finding the joy in TRYING. I couldn’t be more proud of her. We’re brave for trying, aren’t we? Whether we’re victorious or not…which also makes me wonder if we really understand what “victory” actually is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy, thank you for saying that. I have been having a hard time lately with Life, and that has taken a toll on my writing, only because I can’t spend the time I want. When I can’t write for a long stretch of time, I begin to think bad thoughts.

      I’m happy you’ve made the connection between this post and joy in all parts of life, because I think joy should be kept in all journeys, no matter if you’re a writer, mom, or runner. 🙂 I hope your daughter is finding the joy in trying too, because while making state would be awesome, if she’s not having fun, then, well, then it’s simply a chore.

      I lovelovelovelovelove this: “We’re brave for trying, aren’t we? Whether we’re victorious or not…which also makes me wonder if we really understand what “victory” actually is.” It says everything.


  15. I love this. And look at how many people who relate? You obviously know how to reach people and connect with them, which according to Amanda Palmer (in her book The Art of Asking) makes you a real artist. 🙂

    I’ve had to remind myself to “get back to the joy” many times. Recently, an actor friend of mine said, “What if this is it? What if this is as far as it goes for us in our career? Would we still do it?”

    The answer for me was YES! Because I realized the only thing worse than not having what I think I want, is not doing what I love to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Danika,

      I’m unfamiliar with that book, but I’ll add it to my must-read list!

      Your actor friend posed a really good question. It gets to the heart of why we make these choices, and to what hopeful outcome?

      I’m glad that your answer was “YES!” because you have given a lot to the reading and writing community, Danika. You do more than just write great books; you share your opinions, ideas, and experiences to help other writers along their journeys. I know I’ve learned a lot from you.


  16. Kate, this is wonderful. Every word resonates. When I read “I missed writing so much that it made me sick in mind, body, and soul. That’s how I realized that the true joy, for me, is in the act, the process of writing,” it was as if I read an excerpt in my own journal. You speak eloquently–and with inspiration–for all writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Marilyn. Wow, what a compliment. It felt good to write the post. Like I was sticking up for myself, and my dream, which I haven’t always done.

      It’s a lonely road sometimes, and you have to be your own wingman. That’s tough to do.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.


  17. It’s very important to find the joy in each day of our journey. When I’m just writing, I’m happiest. When I’m promoting, I can find some enjoyment. When I’m dealing with rejections on the newest manuscript–it’s not fun. But it’s part of the journey. It helps me to switch off to another activity to remind myself that there’s always something else I can do when one part of the journey gets to be too much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, Kourtney. I think we all got into this in the first place because writing — the mere act of writing — was so much fun. Why wouldn’t we want to try to do it for a living? That’s where it gets sticky, of course. But it is like everything else. We have to take the bad and the ugly with the good.

      Great idea about digging into another activity when writing wears you down. I think we all need to have a plan B in those cases!


  18. Sometimes we get so focused on the finish line we forget to enjoy the journey..cliché but so true huh. That’s why it speaks to so many of us. If we focus on the joy in the process, the destination will take care of itself. Gets me every time whenever I recover from getting out the ‘pit’. As mentioned above; attitude does it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Attitude is truly important. And I know we can’t always have a positive ‘tude every day. We’re human after all. But as long as we keep the joy in our sights when we’re feeling low, we have a better chance of getting back on track.


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