Never Write to Make Other People Happy

People-pleasers never win.

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I am a people-pleaser.

I do everything I can to make other people happy, even if it means giving up things that make me happy.

And I feel guilty whenever I do choose to do something that makes me happy over something that will satisfy someone else.

I do not like this about myself. I never have.

As a writer, it has made me far less productive, outspoken, and brave.

Over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to do nice things for people who have rarely, if ever, made an effort to do nice things for me.

I never want to be less kind, less caring, or less compassionate.

But I do want to be a little more selfish sometimes, for the sake of my writing career.

I want to be able to put some of my projects on the front lines, instead of putting them on hold.

I want to write some stories that fulfill me on a deep and personal level, even if they’re not exactly what my audience thinks they want to read.

I want to tweet more. Read more. Have a voice.

Because at some point, I started believing other people’s joy was more important than mine.

I’ve since learned otherwise.

Never write something with the intention of making someone else happy.

Never accept a certain job, agree to a certain schedule, or make a certain change to something — or to yourself — for the sake of improving or solidifying someone else’s opinion of you.

People-pleasers never win.

Because even when they’ve succeeded in pleasing others, they almost always end up disappointing themselves.

And you — we all — deserve better than that.

This does not mean that some of your stories can’t have a happy ending, or that resolutions to plots can’t ever leave an audience feeling relieved or satisfied.

It doesn’t mean that you should always put yourself and your needs before everyone and everything in every circumstance. Sometimes, compromise is essential in maintaining trust and balance in relationships — and in life overall.

But other people do need to learn to respect your work and your time, the same way you should respect theirs.

And we all need to remember that just because something doesn’t make us happy or turn out in a way different than what we imagined, doesn’t mean we have permission to scream and cry and tear other people down in an effort to get what we want.

You can do what makes you happy within your own personal bubble, without poisoning others.

But you can also try to understand why others are unhappy — with you, with something you published — and acknowledge that their opinions are valid, even if you do not agree with them.

Some people won’t ever be happy no matter how much of yourself you sacrifice to make them that way. And that’s not up to you, or your words, to “fix.”

It’s not your job to please other people 100% of the time.

It’s OK to do things that make you happy first. More often than you’ve been told.

Are you a people-pleaser? You might want to read these posts.

To All the People-Pleasers Trying to Write for a Living

Why It Feels Like Your Family and Friends Don't Support Your Writing

5 Reasons to Keep Posting On a Blog Nobody Reads

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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4 thoughts on “Never Write to Make Other People Happy

  1. I’m also a people pleaser. I’m trying to get out of this habit. I have 2 complete first drafts of novels on my computer and 2 partly completed drafts. I haven’t finished them because I’ve been worried about what others reactions to them would be. About a month ago, I realized how crazy that is! Writing is my passion. Who cares what others think about it? So I’m now working on finalizing my novels for ME, not for anyone else. Loved this post!

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