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Does Your Writing or Reading Affect You?

I’m currently writing scenes in which my protagonists suffer and struggle.

I’ve found that this is interfering with my peace of mind– that I’m unable to separate their suffering from my day-to-day life, to compartmentalize between fact and fiction.

Before this, while reading a book, I would lose hunger, thirst, all notion of time– lost in the vicarious experience of the protagonists.  I would feel scared for them, sorry for them, or both– especially at the times nearing the climax. My parents would have to push me to bathe or eat or take part in any life activity.

This absorption has reduced with the years, with growing responsibilities.

But on some days, like this one, fact and fiction merge, and I don’t know which is which.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever got lost in the story you’re reading or writing?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I 'd say I get rather influenced from what I read, at times…

  • Ray Bradbury said that what we write about–and especially the characters–come from somewhere in our subconscious. I agree with that. I have found myself in the same situation as you, getting totally lost in some of my characters. Antagonists as well as protagonists. It exhibits an attribute of a successful author: ambition. But, I also believe we are connecting with our subconscious, and in a symbolic way, writing about who we really are.

  • Amita Gulia says:

    Yes… I felt really sick and humiliated myself while reading one of the scenes of assault in the book "The Prostitute's Daughter" by Juliet Philip.

  • Datta Ghosh says:

    I live with the characters of the book I read. happens when you have a very active emotions. That is the main reason why I read books

  • Anupat G says:

    It used when I was in high-school…all the fables, proverbs,verses used to influence me so much. But now I am the writer of my life-story.

  • Sherry Ellis says:

    I become emotionally involved only if a story bears a resemblance to my own life.

  • I can relate to this. As the saying goes, the reader lives a thousand lives. When I read, I become the protagonist in my mind and as you said experience their traumas and highs. I empathise so much that it effects my normal life. So I have stopped reading tragedies. I love happy peppy reads these days..:) And I write on similar lines too.

  • Unless the writing is that convincing or soul stirring…it generally doesn't impact deeper though mostly good writing affects…being a writer…the process of writing is more cathartic to me.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    When I can't stop reading or writing, I know I'm into a good story. And when I must get back to a story regardless of the To Do list, I'm ecstatic.

  • I tend to live and breathe a good story until it's over. My favourite author, Wilbur Smith has that effect on me. I've found in the last few years since I've been working on novels that I create it within myself. I sometimes have to separate myself from the story so that I can be objective about what happens to the main characters. We can't let them have everything their own way after all. Good post my friend – as usual.

  • Lexa Cain says:

    I adore that feeling when reading! It means I've completely "escaped" into another world and forgotten about all those real world troubles. Congrats on your writing progress even if you're torturing characters. 😉

  • Once I start reading, I tend to get obsessed until I've finished the book. I can easily read a book in one day, but – yes – eating and dressing go out the window on those days. I can feel quite empty when I finish, too.

    As for writing, I do tend to 'take on' the persona of my main characters – as they are quite damaged, usually, this isn't very pleasant at all!

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    Yup. As a child my folks took me to the doctor because I would get so involved and have dreams/nightmares. He said I had an overactive imagination … which loosely translated, appears to mean I'm a writer 🙂

  • Romi C says:

    I don't think I've got 'lost' in stories very often recently, but some books are so riveting that it is hard to put them down. As a child, I was often scolded by my parents because I stayed up very late reading a book.

  • I don't get quite as emotionally involved, but I do get lost and lose track of time.

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