More Discoveries

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it – don’t cheat with it.

Ernest Hemingway

I’ve discovered something about myself (does that ever stop happening, discovering things about ourselves?). I try to divide my time between writing and art as equally as possible because I love both. But when I’m feeling a bit down for whatever reason (eg, the biscuits are all gone), then I gravitate towards writing. When I’m practically bouncing with joy (eg, there are lots of biscuits), then I would rather draw or paint.


I’m pretty much past the phase when, especially in my teenage years, I would write angry or melancholy poetry or stories to express my feelings. Now it comes out in much more subtle ways, where I don’t address the issues directly but they do affect the tone of the piece. I’m generally quite a happy person and I think it’s because I do write. My stories are usually quite dark or have dark undertones. All my worries and fears are on the page instead of in me.

Drawing on the other hand seems to be more of an expression of love and happiness. I’m inspired by illustrations I remember from childrens books I read when I was younger. It’s a happy place to be.

It’s not that I’m tortured when I’m writing, far from it. I love it and I don’t necessarily realise the serious subjects of the writing until I read it back. But I always feel lighter afterwards or sometimes a bit drained. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t write because they don’t realise the emotional effort that goes into it. It started raining when I wrote that. Talk about being over dramatic!

Anyone else experience this?


12 thoughts on “More Discoveries

  1. I’ve experienced emotional drain so many times since I got serious about writing (regrettably this is the too-recent date of November 2013). I think my favorite story in this vein is when I was writing the second part of my novel Darkness Concealed. What I had originally meant to be a tragedy with archaeological elements (think Indiana Jones meets Fantasy) became an outright horror as what the tragedy actually meant, and how it happened, came onto the page. I should note that I am not a horror author, and I generally avoid horror as a genre.

    One of the later scenes in the part has the characters (who are investigating this 50 years after the fact and have seen nothing but bones as decomposition did its job) walk into what was supposed to be “the refuge” for the defenseless, while the defenders outside tried (and ultimately failed) to hold off the onslaught of monsters. Without spoiling too much, the refuge wasn’t, but it had an enchantment on it that accidentally kept every single viciously ripped apart man, woman, and child in pristine, dead condition. As I wrote that, almost all of my characters had an emotional breakdown as the absolute horror of the scene hit them full-force. It hit me too, sucking every last bit of emotional energy I had in a very emotionally-charged section of the story.

    In the middle of NaNoWriMo, I stopped writing, the implications of what I had just written overwhelming my ability to write the next scene. I had to take a 30 minute break just to recover. It still amazes me months afterwards, and I can only hope that when others read the scene when I get the book out the door they feel just how much emotion I ended up pouring into the book.

    • Firstly, that sounds like a brilliant novel! It’s funny how you start writing something, thinking it’s going to be one thing and it turns into another. I found a similar thing with my WIP; it was originally meant to be a fantasy horror and it’s turned into something much more literary and real, which actually suits the tone better.
      I think readers will definitely feel the emotional impact of that scene, if not the whole story because you have poured so much into it. You can always tell when a writer is emotionally involved in a story and it generally makes for a better read. I’ve found myself shedding tears over fictional characters I’ve created and the situations I (cruelly) put them in. I sometimes think there must be something of a sadist in writers!
      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. All the time!

    What Hemingway says is true, at least in my experience anyway, deep down all writers have some sort of pain or suffering that they use when writing whether it is a conscious process or not. There is something so therapeutic about writing that it helps heal the soul like no other creative process (in my opinion).

    • I agree with you on that. There’s something about expressing yourself in words, it can be so hard to get it right but you feel different afterwards. I know I don’t feel the same release with other art but everyone is different. Has there ever been a writer who wasn’t hurt in some way? There’s a reason why the stereotype of a writer is someone who locks themselves in an attic and drinks all the time!
      Thanks for commenting again, I always like talking to you 🙂

      • I love talking to you, too!

        There is something magical about being able to express oneself through the written word and it is a trait that is not shared by everyone. Writers are by nature quite emotional souls and I believe that it is the need to express and perhaps understand these sometimes complex emotions that drives us to bare our souls on a page.
        Writing, for me, is most often a way of purging the soul and working through things that my conscious mind might find too hard or difficult to bear.
        I guess that I fit the stereotype of a typical writer, except I’d like to point out that my only substance abuse is coffee and not alcohol!

      • Yes I do find I write about things that I won’t or can’t talk about. That’s not to say everything is directly about me but I think the overall tone that probably comes across is, to an extent.
        I am a caffeine and sugar abuser! No alcohol for me thanks, I can barely speak when I’ve had a drink let alone write 🙂

      • I think the same is true for a lot of writers: that we infuse our work with ourselves is some form or another. Most of the time it is not even a conscious decision, but we can only write what we know about and it stands to reason that what we write is in some way influenced by our own thoughts, motivations, emotions etc.

        I’m a habitual caffeine abuser too. Perhaps we should start some kind of self help group for caffeine addicts like ourselves? 😆

      • That sounds like a good plan! I can just imagine forums filled with hyped up yet mildly depressed writers lamenting their caffeine woes…could be a good poem or short story there 🙂

  3. The sense of feeling lighter after writing resonates with me, especially when it’s the first draft and you can just write for all you’re worth. I really enjoy that. I feel more depressed in the rewriting stage and will procrastinate like crazy to avoid it 😦 On the whole though, it’s an enjoyable activity for me and leaves me feeling happier when I finish. So I guess it’s therapeutic for me too.

    • Yeah there’s relief in pouring everything out in the first draft and then there’s the precision of the rewriting, which is almost like a cleansing in a way. I actually really like that stage partly because I like having something to work with but I think it’s also because I feel more in control.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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