February 15, 2017

Joy - The Flip Side by Tracy Krauss

How is writing a joy?

There have been some thought provoking, and just plain beautiful posts this month on the topic.
When I sat down to write this post I wondered how I could possibly add to the conversation. I decided to share three sure fire ways to kill your joy and then contrast them with three ways to increase it.

In the infamous words of Papa Berenstein, 'This is what you should NOT do, so let this be a lesson to you."

J - Jealousy.  Nothing kills your writing joy faster than that old green eyed monster. Just when you start feeling good about yourself or your accomplishments, someone else is bound to come along and show you up. No human being is immune, but as writers this can creep up unexpectedly. How easy it is to feel envious of that person who signs with a well known agent or gets a lucrative book contract. What about that self published author who is now raking in a six figure income while I'm still slaving at my day job? Why do other people have so many five star reviews? How come that person's book is winning awards and garnering praise ... You get it. We all feel just a weeny bit jealous at times, but as soon as you feel that first inkling - snuff it out! Celebrate other people's successes, but never allow yourself to play the 'comparison' game. You'll lose every time.

Proverbs 27: 4 - Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? 

O - Offence. Taking offence hurts you more than the person who offended you in the first place. It's like a bitter root that takes hold and pretty soon it can consume your life. Meanwhile, the person who has offended you often doesn't even know that they've done something wrong. After all, people are people and we all make mistakes; we say things without thinking, or make errors of omission without meaning to hurt anyone. We've all felt like telling others to 'lighten up' at times, but yet, when our own sense of entitlement is stepped on, we are quick to take offence. As writers, we need to learn to take constructive criticism without getting offended. Not everyone is going to love us or our writing. If you get a bad review, for instance, shake it off quickly, for there is nothing like an offended spirit to steal your joy away.

Proverbs 18:19 - A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

Y - Yearning. Okay, maybe I'm stretching it a bit in my quest to find a 'Y' word, but I think I can make this work. Yearning in its negative connotation is similar to envy, but it is different in that its object is directed more at 'what I don't have' than at 'what someone else has'. We don't need to be jealous of someone else in order to yearn for something. It speaks of a deeply rooted discontent - currently an  epidemic in today's society. True satisfaction comes in knowing who you are, not in how much stuff you have. When we yearn for what we don't have we cannot possibly also have joy. From a writer's perspective, this could be anything from a published book, greater recognition, more sales, or even just more time to write. Be thankful for what you have NOW, at this moment, instead of always looking to the grass on the other side of the fence.

Hebrews 13:5b - Be content with what you have,  for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

On the positive side, I like the old children's Sunday School song that says joy comes from putting things in this order: Jesus, Others, You. Jesus needs to be the King over my writing. Then I need to think about others and how my words may affect them. Lastly, I can take pleasure in writing what I feel the Lord has given me to write - without comparison, jealousy, taking offence, or yearning for something different.

That's real writing JOY!

Tracy Krauss takes a lot of pleasure in writing from her home in northern BC where she also teaches high school Drama, Art and English. She is currently serving as inscribe's Vice President and finds joy in serving this wonderful organization in that capacity, too.

Website: tracykrauss.com "fiction on the edge without crossing the line"


  1. You nailed it, Tracy! Thanks for your wise words to remind us what can creep into our hearts when we take our focus off God, our own work, and what He has called us to do.

    1. It's a reminder we all need now and again. :)

  2. Tracy,
    Thanks for the reminders. I heartily agree :)

  3. Enjoyed that reference to Papa Berenstein. And, I really appreciated your fresh look at these old joy killers. If our joy is missing in action, you remind us where we should look first.

    Thanks, Tracy!

  4. Thank you, Tracy, for reminding us that the Holy Spirit has granted us the gift of writing to bless and encourage others, and our joy should come from glorifying Him and not ourselves.

  5. Jealousy, Offence and Yearning! Yes, any of these emotions could derail our writing, our organization, or our smaller writing groups. You have definitely added to the discussion on joy in writing and what could kill it.

    Your post reminds me how thankful I am for our InScribe Christian Writer's Fellowship. Here we encourage and pray for one another. When one of us has a problem, another offers to help with solutions. In InScribe, we can join Bren Leyland in twirling our chairs when one of our members gets a book published or wins an award.

    Thanks for defending our J-O-Y, Tracy, and thanks for the work you do for InScribe Writers Online. Blessings.

    1. It is the faithfulness and example of long time members like yourself that make this organization even stronger. Thanks Sharon.

  6. This was a good read. I am just beginning to write publicly even though I have written for years. I have been hesitant because I don't like to fail, but I realize that's all part of learning. Thanks for giving me a new perspective on JOY.

    1. So glad you could join the conversation, Holly!


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