Is writing a gift or a curse?

I think the main gift writing brings me is escape from what is happening in my life at the time… I create a fantasy world instead, one which I can control. If I am happy and living life, I don’t feel the need to write so much. If I am writing a lot, I am not really living. There must be a balance somewhere but the writing does take over sometimes… which makes it less a gift, perhaps, and more of a curse?

If you read the comments on this blog you might remember this one from my ‘Three gifts of writing’ series of posts before Christmas. (If you don’t read the comments, you could be missing some thoughtful and thought-provoking responses)


I absolutely relate to the experience of writing as creating other worlds to escape to when this one feels too hard. It’s been a great blessing for me particularly at times when difficult thoughts and emotions are stopping me from sleeping. Then, I get up and make some tea, turn on my computer and slip into the world of stories just as easily as I would normally be slipping into the world of dreams.

All writing takes you away from everyday life to some extent. You can’t socialise and write simultaneously; at times, the world of the story feels far more exciting and interesting than the real world.

But that doesn’t feel to me as if I’m ‘not really living.’ It feels as if I am living, and very intensely, but in another life. The experiences I have in imagination – whether in stories I’m writing or in dreams when I’m asleep – are real experiences.

As the dreamer in our dreams or the protagonist in our story, we access experience through our senses and emotions, the same as in ‘real’ life. We encounter new people and situations, and we are changed by them.

Writing isn’t only an escape from ‘real’ life but also an escape to other lives, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Because the story will always, like dreams, be related in some way to whatever is happening in our ‘real’ life, writing is an opportunity to explore and resolve our emotional and practical difficulties in imagination.

Story is always an experience of triumph over adversity. That experience can give us faith and strength to face what has to be faced, and often strategies to deal with it.

What do you think? Is writing a gift or a curse for you?

11 thoughts on “Is writing a gift or a curse?”

  1. Writing is definitely a gift. It’s something I can share, that is a part of me no one sees. I can collaborate with others, and help build wonderful worlds and stories, that defy the imagination.

    1. I didn’t think of that, Charlotte – the opportunity to share with others parts of yourself that are normally unseen – but one of the great pleasures of gathering writers together for workshops is sharing the themes, characters and images of our inner lives around my kitchen table.

        1. I’ve never actually collaborated with another writer in that way, Charlotte. I love the idea of creating a story together but I don’t think I could actually manage it.

          1. I’ve been doing it now for…five years. Written with a few hundred, if I was to sit down and count. A lot of my role play stories are collaborations with others. A Pirate’s Life is with my American bestie LadyBelz.

  2. Is writing a curse? Henry Miller obviously thought so:
    “People used to envy me my inspiration. I hate inspiration. It takes you over completely. I could never wait until it passed and I got rid of it.”

  3. Jenny, this is so pertinent to me at the moment, as I have been asking myself this very question. I think it can be both – it is there for me when I really need it, but it also takes me away from things that I should be putting more time and energy into. I think this is because writing is so absorbing and all-encompassing. Sometimes I really do have to have a break from writing in order to put my energies into other aspects of my life, and other people, more. It is a balance I really struggle with, and I’m sure many other writers do too.

    1. Ah yes, Abi – now that all my children are grown and flown, I had forgotten how hard it can be to balance the needs of the inner and outer worlds. The compromise I chose when I had family commitments was at the expense of my writing, staying in the shallows with very short, educational or non-fiction projects, because I knew longer fiction would draw me right in and I thought I would find it too frustrating trying to be in two places at once. So I guess I avoided that struggle.

  4. Writing is a gift to me; it’s the one thing in this world in which I am 100% confident. It’s my greatest strength and my primary attribute. Therefore, it makes me feel more alive when I’m writing. I don’t miss the outside world when I’m working through a story; not even when I’m composing stuff for my blog.

    1. That’s such an important point Alejandro – the way writing can make us feel more confident.. My children’s book about writing, ‘How to be a Brilliant Writer,’ is all about that, because I feel the emphasis in school can be on grammar and style, which can discouraged some children, rather than finding your voice, which is always empowering.

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