A Writer’s Emotions

Prompted by a previous post The Reasons Why, a question was raised that is specifically focused at writers: What does it feel like when you write?
As with any creative endeavour, the creative process is a Hydra, a labyrinth, a slippery bar of soap and having to sort out the pile of electrical cables that have somehow entangled themselves behind the television cabinet (all electrical cables, speaker leads and instrument cables are sentient beings that tangle themselves in knots even when coiled correctly – for the non-musician, think of a plate of spaghetti).
Each creative person has their method, but at the heart of it, what does that person FEEL when creating.
Here’s what a few twitter friends had to say:
WookiesGirl Its the most frustrating and yet fulfilling thing I do.
LilyMulholland  to get those people out of my head…it’s getting pretty crowded in there…
Emma Newman Much better.
Helen Howell I’ve just finished writing a flash for my blog for friday, and it feels good. Just did a book review and I kinda feel pleased when I see the effort I have put into it up on the screen. When I write I become transported to the world I create. I not just see and hear my characters, I feel what they feel – writing is more than a therapy it’s a magical experience.

How do I feel when I write?

My other creative endeavour is music. I play drums. I equate writing and drumming/music, two artistic endeavours, as sharing the same process. There is the “rehearsal” phase, developing craft and technique (the drafting and editing phases), and there is the “performance” phase (the finished product).

The rehearsal phase is often a dog’s breakfast, splattered from one end of the kitchen to the other. Whatever you put your hand to is smeared rancid custard. It’s gruelling, tiresome, frustrating, painful and makes you want to take out your eyeballs with a crayon.

But there are times in the practice room when rudimental exercises become meditative. You find a flow, a rhythm, a beat.

Then there are moments when playing music is sublime. Those moments during a live performance when every part connects seamlessly from drums to guitar to bass to vocals to keys. You carefully execute the parts you hear in your head, translated into your hands.

However, to make roses bloom, (to mix my metaphors even further) you have to get your hands filthy dirty and smelling of manure.

How do I feel when I write? I feel a spectrum of emotions from giddy excitement of a new idea to the joy of the first few drafts. Then comes the hard work of shaping and refining. It can suck the life out of you and the story. Think of fingernails dragged down a chalkboard.


There is a certain smugness and self satisfaction when a story is as perfect as you can make it.

And it feels good.

How do you feel when you write?

8 responses to “A Writer’s Emotions

  1. Hey Adam this is a great post, I like how you have used music as analogy, just perfect! This comment really gelled with me “Then comes the hard work of shaping and refining. It can suck the life out of you and the story”

    But as you say when it’s finished and the best you can make it, wow isn’t that a wonderful feeling!

    • I found I could not adequately find a good range of emotions to describe how I feel when I write. However, it is the sense of completion of a piece that is my current focus.

  2. I always feel like I’m high. I’m all floaty and kind of seeing things even when I’m not writing, because my brain keeps wanting to jump back to the story and finish it.

    Then I’ll have these stumbling moments of clarity where I know what I’m writing is a mess, even if I feel like it’s the most brilliant never before written work in the world (and of course it never is that, but when I’m writing… like I said… I’m high).

    Above all I make sure I’m having fun, even when I’m torturing my characters. Because if I’m not having fun writing it there’s no way it will ever be edited, and how could anyone want to read something that isn’t fun?

    I know, whole bunches more than you wanted, but that’s how I feel.


    P.S. I totally agree with Lily and Emma too.

    • Thank you for the input. Every writer will have their own perspective and emotional connection with their own writing and the creative process. I agree, writing must be fun, even when it’s hard work.

  3. If writing is anything like creating art, I find it’s a lot like pursuing a relationship with someone who isn’t interested in you. There’s passion and fantasy, dedication and devotion, and it just seems a total waste of time because you’re getting nowhere but then you just might hit the jackpot and find love and create something beautiful together, and that makes it all worthwhile.

  4. I’m glad you went with the “spectrum” approach. The notion of a singular feeling during composition just doesn’t seem plausible to me. I feel exhausted, in pain, or enlivened, or uproarious, or unbelieving that I’m doing this, or bored, or desperate to get this scene through, or so close, or so far, or so excited, or afraid that I’m going to have to do this to a character, or disappointed that the wording isn’t as funny as I wanted, or self-satisfied with my own cleverness. I can feel almost anything. I’ve mourned at the keyboard.

  5. Frustrated that I can’t adequately describe the scenes in my head, and when I’m finished? Blessed release.

  6. Sometimes it’s fantastic. Time flies. The rest of the world disappears and your fingers dance on the keyboard. Often as not, though, it’s pure torture. Thinking about all the work that has to be done is soul-sucking… but finishing a particularly good run, nailing a couple thousand words when you thought you didn’t have it in you – that, to me is life at its very, very best.

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