Skip to main content

For the longest time, I’ve heard that art borrows from life. For the last few days, however, I’ve been fascinated by the possibility that a writer’s life is affected by the fiction he or she writes.

Been reading writing advice that says: take the learnings from your writing and apply them to your life. The focus and discipline needed for the writing life can be applied in other facets.

What fascinates me, though, is whether a story affects a writer …a friend of mine reported feeling depressed in a period of her life when she was writing a sad part in her novel, another felt unreasonably snappy in a period when she wrote violent scenes.

I myself have been feeling rather suffocated the past two weeks, and this could be because of the short story I wrote. It is going off for a call for submissions,or I could have posted it for my kind blog-readers to judge.

To the writers amongst you (and I know there are quite a few): do you get affected by what you write?

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 !

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • K.C. Woolf says:

    Absolutely, and vice versa. I’m aware of how intertwined my life and my writing is, yet it still surprises me.

  • Juliet Boyd says:

    I can see how this would affect you more if you were writing a novel, but as a short story writer I think the effect for me is short-lived because I’m straight on to the next thing.

    • Damyanti says:

      I haven’t written a novel yet, ….but my short stories do get to me, especially those with the more tortured characters.

  • Please excuse my repetitive replies and prior metaphorical statements, but my nature is to be too wordy and abstract. Given my absence, and ignorance, from the digital world, I have a question. What does “going to a call for submissions” mean?

    • Damyanti says:

      No worries, Pen. “Call for submissions” is not a digital term. It is a notice publishers/ editors send out when they are putting together an anthology of short stories/ other kinds of fiction.

      They do not accept previously published stories, even if it is on a public blog, which is why I can’t put my current short story on here.

  • Toby Neal says:

    For me, that’s a chicken-or-egg question. My first novel was darkest, but it was born in working out some things that were going on in my family of origin.
    However, I think I’m of a generally upbeat temperament.
    I tend to become intrigued with ideas, with characters, and mull and ponder.. and then throw myself more into my writing ‘world’ when IRL is too stressful/sad/painful. Writing is a way out for me rather than an end in itself.

    • Damyanti says:

      That is a very interesting take, Toby. I do not know sometimes what writing is to me, I write because I have always made up stories and writing gives me a legitimate reason to do so. I’ve always been sensitive, wildly imaginative, a little extreme, and somewhat neurotic, so being a writer has given me the perfect front to hide behind 🙂

  • Most definitely. Each book has had its own affect. Perhaps the most strongest being when I was writing Blazing Embers (now, seven years later Smouldering Embers published by Dare Empire). The book has been described as a granny in search of an orgasm! My brother-in-law said that reading it had changed his life. I would have been far too embarrassed to have told him exactly how the writing of the book (together with the research) affected our marriage!
    With the other books, my moods were constantly changing. For a few days during one book I realised I was gripped with grief. Even now, if I read certain lines, tears form in my eyes. This state of being could not, and can not, easily be switched off from my daily life. Joy and laughter has exactly the same effect — it may be cold with rain or snow outside but I am too immersed in my feelings to notice.

    • Damyanti says:

      Thanks for telling me I am not alone, Gladys. I do feel affected by my writing too, and I’m currently trying to make sure my writing self only switches on when I want it to. It may be hard, but it should not be impossible, I reckon. Only time will tell.

  • What an excellent question! My writing has affected my life in ways that are unimaginable. Years ago, when my two daughters were toddlers, I wrote bedtime stories for them. These stories left me lighthearted and whimsical. However, years earlier, I wrote a hodgepodge of horror, fantasy and science fiction which, in truth, changed my life tremendously. Call me gullible, pliable, or down right silly, but some of my stories were a “far stretch” of the imagination. But, after a many years of pondering over them, I stand firm in and defend their plausible possiblities.As a youth, I posed a common childhood question of the existence of extraterrestrial life and wrote of a symbiotic relationship between our worlds. Now, as a middle-age dreamer rehashing his lost love for writing, I am certain we are not alone. Writng, in a sense, is a form of meditation. “It most definately is for me.” And, transcendental thought affects ouf behavior and mood.

    • Damyanti says:

      Thanks for such a long and considered reply, Pen, and yes, transcendental thoughts do affect our behavior and mood.

  • I can get bummed by a down scene, but I’m pretty even-keeled, so it doesn’t last long.

  • Damyanti, it really REALLY depends on the piece. Some of it, when I’m being more removed and technical, then no. That happens a lot on some of the challenges. I’m writing FOR the challenge more than from within.
    The pieces that get to me are rooted in different places, so they can alter my after writing mood. Writing my play did that a lot, as I was writing from a very personal narrative.

    • Damyanti says:

      That’s interesting, Stuart. Even when I’m writing for a challenge, I’m still writing from my gut. I spend the most amount of time finding a line/ a picture, a theme that truly moves me and yet fits the challenge, and I finish the writing in hours, sometimes an hour. At other times, even less. I can’t write anything unless I feel it.

      • I sometimes go on autopilot with the time challenges one. It depends on the prompt. Some I get really into, others not so much. At that moment, it’s more try to go with first comes to mind and go with it. Almost stream of consciousness within the parameters of the challenge.
        Someone mentioned today that they sometimes feel I’m not connected to some of the stories. That is probably what they are feeling.

        • Damyanti says:

          I never send for publishing, whether on my blog or anywhere else, something that does not come from my gut. Anything that comes only from the head, to me at least, is something that would never connect to a reader…you’re doing great with the challenges, Stuart, and the more you practice, the more you will be connected to what you’re writing, and make the reader feel a connection too!

          • You just hit the nail on the head Damyanti. I have not been seeing blogging as publishing. I’ve been using the blog mainly as a writer would where no one would see the work, the drafts, the shot pieces, etc. It’s been process learning sometimes, just to see what I can do.
            OK..attitude adjustment time (on my part). For me, I know when it’s a head exercise and when it’s something that has to come out and breath.

            There you go. Ding. Thank you.