Writing-a health hazard?alberta’sback

I have, as many of you know, had time enough the past six weeks or so to contemplate many things. Apart from sealing wax and string, there has been mortality, patience and acceptance. I have had time to reflect and rethink the entire structure of The Ancestor’s Tale and also to introduce a completely new storyline. The hours of drifting in and out of sleep and my absence from my beloved keyboard has thrown up small random thoughts of no importance except they have entertained me. I share one today, as we are all writers.

 Is writing  fiction hazardous to our health?

 I ask because one type of scene I could not physically write, in the few precious hours I was fit enough to do so, was the emotional. Be it sad, forlorn, angry or exciting I could not write it. Of course, I have known for a long time that thinking about an emotional subject can become physical. When I report shamefacedly that I have cried buckets over the trials /death of one of my characters, I laugh at myself but the tears a real. When I construct, create an angry scene, a temper tantrum, there is definitely an adrenaline rush as I plot in my head.

As I lay there, not being able to write these scenes because of the effect they had on my heartbeat and breathing, I am ill because of a faulty heart and breathing function, I got to wondering. If we perpetually write these  entirely imaginary scenes with convincing effect, creating stressful responses in ourselves are we in fact overloading our system, and harming ourselves.

 Stress as a word means to draw tight. The body is always attempting to maintain equilibrium, and fights to contain destructive elements such as stressful incidents and conditions. The bodies attempt to restore conditions to normality consumes huge amounts of energy and natural resources as for example in the fight or flight response. The flooding of the body with hormones, neuro-transmitters and proteins, sent to prepare and to help the body to fight whatever the stress, is  helpful, as long as the duration of the stressful period is short and the flood is able to dissipate and equilibrium in homeostasis is restored.

 We know that prolonged stress is bad for the immune system and causes all kinds of physical manifestations, such as high blood pressure, heart attack and strokes, anxiety and depression, infertility and an increase in the ageing process and has an effect on wound healing. Some of these are life threatening, some just lower your life quality.


 1)  As we are all of course perfectionists, and labour, hours sometimes, over a particular scene. Searching for just the correct words and ordering of said words to create the right amount of tension.

 2) As we all wish our readers to suffer this stressful turmoil that we are creating, as much or if possible more, as we are ourselves, (we are also a little sadistic!)

 3) Because, come on, a lot of you cry over your characters even if you don’t admit it.

 4)  As many of us walk around all day in an alternative world inside our heads, planning and plotting our devious ways.

 Are we are  adding an extra burden the stress to an already stressful life? Are we in fact harming ourselves in the doing?

 Personally I enjoy reading a book which pushes/drags me through an emotional mangle, which leaves me feeling elated, drained, or exhausted at the end of it. A real page turner, a roller coaster ride. As writers, we read quite a lot I suspect, is this a double whammy, is our escapism into other worlds adding to an already overloaded stress level.

 When we speak to youngsters who tell us they would like to write a book, they would like to be an author, we smile and encourage them, say yes, go for it.  It is a great thing to be able to do. But warn of hard work, disappointments. Should all our advice also come with a label stating that the actual creation of the fiction can be a health hazard!

Just a little whimsy!

 ROW80:I have managed to keep up with some of my goals while I’ve been ill.

 1) My book of folk tales is almost complete, the last couple are at my friend from the ever/editor/beta reader at this moment. Titles have been thought out and I am beginning to arrange them on the page now.

 2)  I have managed to write a few thousand more words of The Ancestor’s Tale. First draft.

 3) I managed this week to get Jo Linsdell up on my blog two days in a row to

a) Showcase her new children’s book.

b) Guest post how she created the book, on A Red Carpet Day

 And I have written a couple of blogs for next week.

 I do not have goals for each week any more. I have my eye on my yearly goals and a couple of those have had to be moved but I have actually accepted that. I am enjoying life again. And hopefully will manage to catch up on my networking.

 I’m not well yet, as the doctors still do not know what happened, or whether it is likely to happen again. I have a battery of blood tests and scans and more ECGs to do in the next couple of weeks, but I have been given medicine which has seemed to stabilise me and allowed me to climb slowly back up to something approaching normality. (However I went shopping yesterday for an hour and have spent most of the time since, sleeping. So anything physical is still a long way off I’m afraid). But I have stopped sleeping most of the day and my brain has started to clear. Thank you everyone for your good wishes.

 I hope everybody has had a good week, and that the week to come will be productive and happy. Keep smiling everyone.

14 thoughts on “Writing-a health hazard?alberta’sback

  1. mrsbongle says:

    Congratulations! I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award! http://mrsbongle.com/2012/08/30/the-sunshine-award/

  2. Eveli Acosta says:

    I stopped by to notify you that I nominated you for two blog awards… :D http://acostaeveli.blogspot.com/

    • alberta says:

      Two! I am having a rewarding week:) thank you – will have to settle down and respond – work out how to post them etc – now visiters have left and health has improved will get down to it:)

  3. denizb33 says:

    Hope you’re feeling better, alberta! I think you might be right about the stress factor. But the stories are inside and must get out!

    • alberta says:

      mine is fighting to get out – shouting ‘what about fiction rights’ and ‘it’s discrimination’I tell it to be patient but you know words – won’t be told:)

  4. What an interesting thought … or is that a frightening one? ;) Perhaps, though, since we – as writers – already have a tendency towards the weaving of these stories, the stress relief our writing can provide acts as a kind of counter-balance?

    Hope you’re doing better soon and that you get both the diagnosis and cure, pronto. Hopeful and positive is the way to go. Take care, and thanks for a great post.

    • alberta says:

      I hope the counter balance theory is the correct one – my story wants out but am just at the gut wrenching bit all dire, death, heartbreak – you know the fun stuff! and very nervous of pressing the emotional button at the moment – until the quacks have sorted out what set the problems off:) am writing short stories instead – fairy tales with a twist – appeals to the humour hormones:)

  5. Lynn Thompson says:

    Get well soon:0 I have been nominated for The Sunshine Award http://lynnthompsonbooks.blogspot.com/ and wanted to pass it your way sunshine:)

  6. I agree with Karen, Alberta. You are onto something indeed. I am very glad to hear that you are on the upswing. Take your time healing.

    • alberta says:

      Well I’m pretty sure none of us would give up writing even if I’m correct:) but Karen has it – awareness of what we are doing might help mitigate – if we can control our deep brains! – not sure my out of control disordered brain can be corralled:)

  7. KM Huber says:

    I think you’re onto something, Alberta, as this past week has been such an emotional roller coaster for me only because of the subject matter of my writing. I realized it about midweek, which helped, although I was not quite convinced that it was the writing until I read your post. Frankly, it’s a relief. Whew! For me, recognizing the revisiting of the emotions of my characters definitely help lower the stress level but kept the tears coming.

    Glad you are on the mend and hope you have a great week.


    • alberta says:

      Def. on the mend thanks – not much physical energy but the endless sleeping seems to have gone – now my brain is functionng again – looking foward to a diagnosis and cure?! maybe too hopeful but most be positive – dont cry too much:(

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