AustLit logo


Issue Details: First known date: 2014... 2014 Take a Walk in Their Shoes : Empathy and Emotion in the Writing Process
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Christos Tsiolkas said Dead Europe ‘was a very difficult novel to write. It ... took me, in the writing of it, into dark and fearful places. As a writer you take on aspects of your characters and if you are not careful the world you are creating begins to blend with the world you actually inhabit’ (Tsiolkas 2008). There is substantial research demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of writing about one’s own traumas. But what are the challenges of writing fiction that requires imagining and creating traumatic events; evil, monstrous or tragic characters? If, as many argue, fiction makes readers more empathetic, it is because writers have created believable worlds that readers can inhabit. In order to create believable worlds that readers can inhabit these worlds and the characters that people them, writers have to inhabit their characters’ lives. This can mean spending years in very dark places. In this article I explore the emotional and physical impact this has on writers and look at ways writers might manage what Marguerite MacRobert calls the ‘emotional roller coaster’ (MacRobert 2012). This is an autoethnographic article and my aim is to contribute to our understanding of the processes of creative writing by exploring and interrogating my experience of writing fiction about traumatic experiences.' (Publication summary)


  • Epigraph: …the relationship between characters and their creators is symbiotic. An author’s life influences his characters and a character’s development influences the author. We may write about things we have never experienced directly, but as we write them, we experience in sensory and emotional detail, and they become real and merge with our real memories. The alchemy that you hope will move your audiences must first move you, so perhaps you end up having more than your fair share of emotion. (MacRobert 2012: 356)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 15 May 2014 10:31:11 Take a Walk in Their Shoes : Empathy and Emotion in the Writing Processsmall AustLit logo TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
    Powered by Trove