Productivity for Writers, Self-care & Stress

Why You Need a Happy File

I recently attended the San Francisco Writers Conference and came home with 101 “To-Do” items. Many of them, fortunately, were on my radar in any case, but I’m feeling an increased urgency to complete tasks which have been on my should list for ages. One conference tip, however, was a little unusual. It came from Stephanie Chandler, in answer to a question (I think) about staying motivated.  Stephanie has what she calls a “Happy File”: a list of positive things that have happened in her business.

On the rough days, she looks through this file and draws energy to keep going. I knew immediately this was a tool I wanted to create, and I think you should have one too. Naturally, it works wonderfully for writers, but you can find many other contexts for this approach.

Why you need a Happy File | Pauline Wiles

You can use an email folder, or a spreadsheet, or a document to assemble your Happy File. Personally, I created a private (for now) Pinterest board, since I figured I would make my encouragement pretty as well as functional. I concentrated on writing successes and positive words from readers; you can pick whatever project or area of your life is most in need of cheerleading.

Happy File example from Pauline WilesEven making the board gave me a huge boost – see the peek above. I found screenshots of my book near the top of the charts, photos sent by readers, lots of positive comments, and visits to book clubs. I came across a screenshot of 100 reviews for Saving Saffron Sweeting – that number has since doubled. I found a Facebook post asking for more followers and realised I now have ten times that many. I reminded myself of reaching the quarter-finals of an Amazon contest and of the time I outranked Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes in a Goodreads list.

Looking back at these modest successes reminded me how far I’ve come, how well my work has been received, how lovely my readers are and how much enjoyment I get from interacting with them. Making the Happy File took me less than an hour; maintaining it will be a piece of cake and I now have a fabulous tool for those days when everything seems uphill.

Do you have anything similar? If not, I highly recommend you give it a try.


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5 Comment

  1. Reply
    Brea Brown
    March 3, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Great idea! I’m already on Pinterest quite a bit for recipe ideas and writing inspiration, so it’ll be easy to add another board. Like you, I’ll keep it private, but it’ll be a lot of fun. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Reply
    Sally A. Peckham
    March 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    What a great idea! 🙂

  3. Reply
    April J Harris
    March 10, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I love this idea, Pauline! I’m definitely going to implement it – we all need encouragement from time to time and this is such a great way to have it literally to hand!

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      March 11, 2016 at 8:04 am

      Yes, it was surprising how many happy moments I found, once I looked!

  4. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    March 12, 2016 at 8:13 am

    What a wonderful idea, Pauline! I think we can all benefit from having multiple ways to keep positive thoughts at the forefront of our minds.

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