What Makes A Writer Write?

Posted at 15:39pm on 24th April 2016

I was reading a blog post on Women Writers, Women’s Books which posed the query, Do you have to suffer to write?

It’s a valid and interesting question.


I attended a World Book Night event yesterday, at which Lesley Pearse, bestselling novelist, was speaking.  She had us in stitches!  Relating stories about having lost her mother at the age of three, she described how she was always in trouble due to her propensity towards 'making stuff up' all the time.

‘I was a terrible liar,’ she told us.

She certainly suffered in that she had a number of broken relationships behind her.  And clearly her ability to embroider the truth – and therefore make up stories - gives some credence to the supposition that grief and misery aids a writer in their writing.

I found myself nodding my head throughout her talk.  Yep!  Been there.  Done that.


My childhood story, like hers, is one of persistent naughtiness.  Being sent to bed with threats of smacked bottoms and nothing more than bread and water was the norm.  As was the adage of being ‘seen but not heard’. 

With a love of story – my father used to read to me from a large navy-blue, leather-bound book titled Great Short Stories of the World – I suppose it was only natural that story-telling inside my head helped to while away the monotony of being alone in my bedroom.  And that that should translate, as time went on, to writing my stories with pen and paper.

Add to those childhood experiences my adult disasters: divorce, debt, one daughter’s drug habit and her ultimate death, and I suppose I, too, lend some truth to the question Do you have to suffer to write?  Certainly, as I’ll tell you next time, some of the stories I wrote, and the books that were published in the eighties and nineties, were the result of my suffering.  Why?  Because my mantra was to comfort others with the comfort I had received.

MORE NEXT TIME: The Elevator Pitch: What Defines What & Why You Write



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