Emotional energy and the writer

The last few weeks have been full on writing my novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities and dealing with family life, getting back into the routine of school. One of my children has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. These children don’t like change, struggle with social situations and outside stimuli, noise, light, smells for example and are unable to organise themselves. School and homework are ongoing challenges both for the child (and the parent!). There is often a lot of frustration, stress and anger for the child. The other children in the family are also affected by the difficulties and need extra support. Where does this leave the novel writer (in this case me? ) Often mentally confused and emotionally fraught and yet I need resilience and persistence to keep going with a task that requires a lot of concentration and emotional investment in writing the story.

About two years ago, my dear mother in law had a stroke. She was very young and she was a great support, mentally, practically and emotionally to me. Unfortunately she was severely affected and while we still enjoy each other’s company, we can’t share conversations in the same way as we did before. Something has been lost. A sort of grief continues over time.

With this backdrop of real life. I need to find ways to again and again, lift myself up to the challenge, to take heart from the writing itself and also put heart back into it. I talk more on this topic today on writing.ie about the kinds of things we as writers might do to continue to write and work when life isn’t easy and ways we can recoup our emotional energy – sometime through writing and sometimes by doing the things we love

What have your experiences been when life gets too much? Can you still find writing energy or how does your writing help you?


  1. The Book of Remembered Possibilities is a wonderful title.
    Well done on persisting with your writing when you must be so emotionally drained at times. When life’s rough, writing’s somewhere to escape to, but it can be hard to setttle into te world of a longer piece if I’m a bit fraught! Will check out your link:)

  2. Although my problems are nothing like yours, I do sometimes feel the struggle when daily life gets in the way. My difficulty at the moment is dealing with a 1 year old baby, a playful dog, and a husband with an OCD and anxiety disorder. For me, writing is an escape from a stressful reality, although sometimes I do have to push myself to switch on the computer and produce something.

  3. I love the title of your novel. I agree it is hard to work on novels when real life is hectic. I find I write certain genres of short stories and flash when I am stressed out or angry though; they are obviously a replacement for my teenage angst poetry!

  4. I would go so far as to suggest that your home life is linked to your writing. Are the two separate from each other? No. Could you write in a way that deals with the anxiety around you? Yes. People keep diaries because they find it therapautic to write down the issues they face.

  5. Thank you all so much for your interesting and thoughtful comments and some of the issues you deal with don’t sound easy at all! I think – as i explored more in my writing.ie post that more than anything we need to be aware that all aspects of ourselves needs to be nourished and rebalanced. Yes, as Eliza said writing can re balance us, and definitely for me creative writing is necessary for well being. Sometimes I do throw down lots of other thoughts, negative or chaotic in another journal just to clear my head of things that are bugging me. It’s not so much diary writing which I did avidly for years but an acknowledgement of the thoughts, feelings, experiences that are weighing on me or (on a happier note) making me feel energised and grateful. The brain and emotions are so complicated that it’s not possible to proscribe anything that suits all or that even suits even ourselves most all of the time. Being aware of our limits and requirements and working to replenish ourselves when we run low is a great first step.

  6. Hi Allison,
    I’ve recently subscribed to your blog. I have a handicapped daughter, who is 22yrs old. She left home two years ago and now lives in an adult care centre. Previously writing time and energy were difficult to find, so I empathise with your situation. My only advice, if I may be so bold, is that you should get and seek out as much help as possible. Don’t feel you have to do all the child caring yourself. I hope you don’t feel guilty about your child’s Aspergers. Guilt is a waist of energy. Good Luck, Henrietta.


    1. Thanks so much Henrietta for your compassionate reply. It is very difficult as parents not to feel guilty and responsible for trying to help the child as much as possible. You are right though, it is important to gather help around as it can be soul destroying otherwise. Thanks so much for sharing your story, all the best to you and your daughter.

  7. Perhaps life will be easier now you have a firm diagnosis? My son has M.E. which causes some of the same cognitive effects as Aspergers – difficulty with noise, light, touch, zero organisational ability and social stress. We definitely found things easier after diagnosis. Not great, but better. He’s not well enough for school so in lieu of an english GCSE we’re writing a book together, and having so much fun doing it. Although I was mortified by the thought of home educating a child, with hindsight I now think it was a briliant opportunity to design our own learning package, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. The school system is one-size-fits-all approach. “The problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg.” (P. Collins – ‘Not Even Wrong’ – an Amercan Mum with an autistic child)

  8. your incredible energy seems to bounce off the page and I envy you this. While I waited till my two were teenagers before I started writing, you are zipping along.
    I sympathise and can understand a little of the frustration regarding your mother in law’s condition as I helped care for my mum who was a similar victim. Though over time we found a common way of communicating through hands, expressions (eyes) and a strong sense of humour helped us all get through her rough times.
    If life takes over and I can’t write, I make notes, then someday when time is right I will pick on an idea and see what happens. This often makes writing an adventure and instead of focusing on the days when I can’t write I look forward to the future to days when I have the whole house to myself and an imagination that runs amok.

    1. How lovely to hear from you Maria and I’m sorry to hear about your Mum, though as you say, humour takes you a long way. “If life takes over and I can’t write,” This is often the reality, especially for women. This post is an old one and since I’ve written it, things became even more challenging. Right now I am still hanging in there trying to do something, although it’s frustratingly slow and hard to keep pushing alongside the demands of life. How you describe your desire to keep hold of the fire and inspiration of writing is wonderful. Wishing you plenty of that space and that “house to yourself” Yes!

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