When I wrote my first poem, I was very excited about it, and proud, and shared it among all my friends. However, now I don't often want to write about my feelings and experiences, and when I do, I'm not even sure I want to share them --I just feel that they are my emotions, and they are nothing to share. Whenever I'm in full of any emotion, whether it is happiness or sorrow or anything, I just want to live that emotion, not write about it.

But the paradox is this: When I read Gulzar or any other poet, I feel they are great because it feels like they have lived that experience thoroughly. I really don't understand. Can you truly experience life and emotions if you're channeling them into your writing? But can you really be a great writer if you aren't fully living your life? It seems like you have to choose between living and writing. But how can you be great as a writer if you don't live?

  • 4
    Different people have different ways of expressing their feelings. I think this is primarily opinion-based. Some just need to pour it out in some form, be it talking to others, or writing it down. Others don't externalize them in any way. There's no universal answer.
    – SF.
    Mar 2, 2020 at 11:04
  • I don't see how the experiences of writing and living are mutually exclusive.
    – Weckar E.
    Mar 2, 2020 at 18:10

4 Answers 4


I think that writing --or any form of art --can be a way of working through the chaos of emotions, and other aspects of life. From that point of view, the reason so many great artists have chaotic lives is not because the art bring the chaos, but because it helps with it. The chaos comes first, and the art follows afterwards.

There was a time in my life when I wrote a lot of poetry, some of it that I still consider very good today. It coincided with one of the more unhappy and emotionally volatile times in my life. Now that my life is more stable, I find I never have the urge to write poetry --it seems to be something I don't currently need to do.

I would say that for the great poets, like the ones of which you speak, writing is not opposed to living and feeling. Instead, all three are part of a single fabric. If you don't feel the same urge in your own life right now, it might be that you don't connect your life and your writing the same way, or it might be that you aren't having experiences so intense, at this point, that you need poetry to find your way through them.


I think @ChrisSunami explains the emotion-writing connection well. There isn't an either or situation. Much of my poetry comes from working through what is going on in my life or in looking back to that. There are other poems that don't necessarily come from that process or upheaval. Sometimes they are inspired by observing the world around me or trying to understand what someone else is going through. Some poems are more externally focused. It may be that you aren't driven to write about your own stuff at the moment. For myself, I find writing prompts are great for getting me to write. If you are interested in that, do a search on "poetry prompts." During April, which is National Poetry Month, the Poetic Asides column on the Writer's Digest website gives a prompt a day. I find these things can give me inspiration in a direction I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.


I am not a poet, but your question confuses me. It sounds like you have two things mixed together.

You experience emotion by living. At least most of us do. I never felt any emotion writing anything poetic (except angst if forced to do that in school) although occasionally when writing an oped concerning politics I feel something.

I would say that you live your life and experience everything first. Then if you are so motivated you could describe what you experienced to share with others or even just put it in a desk drawer to reread at a later time yourself if those experiences were pleasant.

I guess if you were a masochist you could instead put bad experiences in that drawer:)


You say that now, after writing your first poem/s, you rarely want to write; you’d rather live your emotions rather than channel them in a poem. But writing will not deplete your ability to feel, though it might use up some of your experiences in its subject. That is why a writer has to keep connecting with the outside world.

But you say you feel a need to keep some emotions to yourself, and that’s fine. Perhaps you think this way because in our present society there is a lot of pressure to bare all; you can lose a sense of yourself. But there is nothing to stop you from writing in private, apart from spending the time. And as writing can be a solitary and stationary occupation, competing interests might be more influential for you at this moment.

Gulzar poems have made a powerful impression on you, but he had years of learning how to make such an impact, and that may diminish your emotions in your own eyes. And the beginner may look at their work and not appreciate its spontaneous ‘from the heart’.

So when you say you feel your emotions are ‘nothing to share’, perhaps you have lost confidence. And I would say that sharing your work, though unnecessary, requires bravery, and that time will take care of that. Everyone’s emotions have worth expressed in a poem, because we don’t write them for attention-seeking purposes but to connect with other people with a positive reason in mind.

I loved writing and reading in my schooldays, but life got in the way, or I wasn’t ready. I wrote a few poems at a tough time in life, but when I took it up again much later, it was like picking up a lost stitch: it was always there. So in experiencing life and emotions now, you will store a reservoir to draw from.

But contrary to what you thought, the experience of writing provided you with a fresh experience and a new emotion: it thrilled you with your achievement. And delight in your own first efforts provides a happy impetus for continuing to write; in fact, that’s what kept me going.

(I write this as a practising, published poet.)

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