What Does Sadness Offer To Make Your Writing Better?

Major life events and intense emotions, like sadness, can help authors find inspiration for writing captivating work. But do they always have to be negative?

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As writers, we often see great work come from a devastating time in the artist’s life. From books and poems to songs and movies, sadness is a connecting emotion in all art. Negative emotions lead to camaraderie and community that is hard to replicate without writing. Further, the niche of a “tragic artist” reinforces the idea that art cannot be made without sadness as inspiration.

A Literary Hub article explores this topic well. Haley Jakobson speaks from a place of personal truth; she states how her depression met others’ praise. Still, she continued to write until she realized her work matched her mental state: “a cry for help, a tangle of words.” Her work only improved when she did, and she released her debut novel to celebrate prioritizing herself.


So, do artists have to be going through hell to be considered good? Why do we, as readers, want books to make us cry? What is it about sad material that makes us yearn to read or return to a story again? Here are a couple of potential reasons.

Books as a Source of Comfort

We often use books to escape our reality. Fantasy lands, fictional characters, and problems unrelated to our current world help relieve us from troubles that are bothering us. However, we also like to read in order to feel validated in our feelings. Characters experiencing the same feelings we are offers comfort that can’t be copied. Even if the circumstances differ, knowing that other people feel the same things you do is an unparalleled feeling. Works that revolve around mental health, coming-of-age, and various life events help to make us readers feel less alone.

Books as a Source of Relief

On the author’s side, writing can be therapeutic in processing extreme emotions. Putting thoughts to paper is very helpful in understanding feelings and offers a way for writers to get through difficult times. This appears in many different mediums; writing books, poems, or even journal entries is beneficial for anyone who is struggling. However, it is important to maintain a healthy balance between producing work and taking breaks. In her article with Literary Hub, Jakosbon says,

“It is because I know how to care for myself, and I prioritize that care, that I was able to write the book I always hoped to write.”

Haley Jakobson

Knowing how to balance your work and health is the key to producing art that you’re proud of and art that will resonate with readers. Sadness can be used as inspiration, but should only be done in a way that isn’t harmful for the author.

Despite what popular media may depict, great works of art can come from anyone and any feeling. Sadness, anger, loss, and frustration are great muses for writing, yet responses of praise are going to be given to works involving joy, love, and admiration, too.

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