Romantisizing the tortured writers soul has always been a favorite daydream of mine. I imagine a desperate and romantic figure, a recluse who has known great pain. They now sit,  looking out from their writers desk, drinking scotch neat, smoking 40 a day with a beautiful handwritten notebook in hand, a faraway look in their eyes. They suffer for their art…

At least that’s the way I like to imagine them. I wonder how many people who read E.L James’s books were then quietly horrified at the cheery middle-aged librarian looking woman sat on Oprah’s couch?

My problem is that my life is not now reflective of that fantasy. Can anything I create be really good, if I am so, well, chirpy? Everything is going well, which has affected my output somewhat – upwards, not downwards. I struggle with success. Even the ubiquitous inner critic is being quietly positive.

I wrote about a 1000 words yesterday on my W.I.P and on a re-read, got a rather nice “that’s rather good” from the normally militant posh English accented Nazi. At first I thought she was trying sarcasm. Y’know like “that’s rather good – NOT!” and I read it again. “Could do with work on the second sentence, I’d change the clause but overall, I liked it”.

Who are you and what have you done with the spawn of Satan?

So am I right too worry and do we have to be tortured to create anything good?
Comments as always, welcome.


  1. Nope…torture not required. “….create something good?” In the first place, you are good. We all know it, and you should know it too. Secondarily, It’s not about “creating,” it’s about re-using and re-purposing words to fit our own personal juggernaut (although you could argue that the process of plotting and designing is a form of creation…???) Lastly, what is “good” anyway?? In a world where everything has to be objective with quantifiable or measurable outcomes, how do you measure “good”??……a thoroughly subjective discriminator. Anyone who writes as well as you do should not subject themselves to self-imposed agony. Write. Re-write when necessary. Enjoy……
    I know I do.

    • Thanks Howard, I think it comes down to the original debate about whether writing is “Art” or simply “Entertainment”. I think I agree with your comment what is good anyway? Afterall a lot of the more literary books (the one that usually win awards), I’ve never really enjoyed. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I suppose you could purposely torture yourself in order to gain more intense life experiences to write about, but I prefer to just skip that step and go straight to the part where I write because I love doing it, not because I have demons in my soul that I need to release via ink and paper.

    • I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with writing.. We’ve been known to fall-out for years. I do love to write, though. So maybe if I just keep doing that, I’ll be okay. Thanks for commenting.

  3. It’s a myth! Don’t buy it. Personally I always thought that in order to write I had to live in an isolated cottage on the coast of Scotland and always wear big wool sweaters. One day I thought, that’s not a writer, it’s a sheep.

  4. This is lovely. I worry about contentment too. I think, though, although you need some kind of conflict or struggle in order to write, it doesn’t have to be of the external, dramatic kind. As long as your brain is still fretting over this or that, then you’ll have nourishment for your writing. Maybe, anyway. 🙂

    • Hi Littletash, internal conflict or struggle. Well, I have that in abundance most of the time so I guess being happy at the moment isn’t too much of a problem. I think great writing does stem from a conflict, although this can be a conflict that your characters experience rather than you per se. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Well, good, captivating writing comes from strife as much as it does from joy … ground-breaking writing, like any such art, is a somewhat different story. And that is exactly beauty of it all – diversity!
    Kind Regards,

  6. It doesn’t have to be strife that allows you to write; it’s emotion that carries the words, I think. That emotion can come from deprivation and struggle, certainly; in fact, it’s well-known to. But there elements of simple joy that can lead to great writing too, general happiness, a sense of optimism. Anything. As long as it’s felt strongly, anything will do.

  7. When you have the power to evoke laughter, compliments, thought, as well as other emotion, especially from your very own self-critic, you know that your writing is worth it. Or, you should know. If you haven’t told yourself lately, then you should remind yourself, since you’ve got a few reminders here on your blog that you should also take into consideration.

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