How to Write as an Escape

by - January 25, 2021

The world is dark but your words are a light. Your words are a chance at something glorious, a chance to return good to this dark world.

And your words are an escape. Your words can be a safe place to run to--a place to release the darkness within you and light the light overcome it, or perhaps even a place to go and find a battle of a different nature.

I find it easiest, when you want to escape the dark, to run into a different genre. I've tried to write a contemporary a few times, but it never goes well. What does go well is writing fantasy, sci-fi, even dystopia. That's a world where I control all the rules. All the politics. All of everything. I can make the creative order. This is a trick that I find very helpful when the real world gets to be too much--you run to this place where you rule the world.

In Pentegreens, my own personal battles come across in the two main characters, Esma and Rishatta, in different ways. None of it is cut and dry, but it's still a way to fight my battles on the page. When Esma triumphs, I feel my own triumph. When Rishatta grapples with his very inconvenient and heavy emotions, it's my own feelings, normally, and my own thought process. I write my own feelings into battles not my own and I write them in a way that lets me win.

There's something pure in running to words, be it to get away from you or from the world. And there's a beauty in it. Your words will persist after the darkness.

So how do you do that?

1. Don't let the things that you need to escape take over your story.

This is something that happened to me and part of the reason why Pentegreens 4 took so long to edit. Personal darkness, personal struggles, and a figure of everything that had come out of the woodwork on me was all embodied in one person, my villain, and he was just...taking over everything. My story grew dark and twisted as I tried to amp up the struggle...but then I realized that I wasn't writing it anymore. I was simply fighting the dark, trying to keep my head afloat as this villain stepped on my heroes over and over and over.

And I had to run away from it and try to remember how to breathe.

Clare, one of my alpha readers, will attest that there was a six month gap between the midway point and the last part of the story. The final fifteen chapters came pouring out of me last month like a waterfall, interrupting my finals week to surge onto the page, unstoppable, triumphant. But it was the three chapters that came before that triumphant final fifteen that took six months.

I'm not kidding. It took six months to write three chapters, because I was drowning in them, unable to get past my own internal battles to write the story as it needed to be told.

And finally I understood, and I wrote it.

But it would have been so much easier to be able to release the darkness and write my story and not let the whole book be consumed. If I'd known that earlier, it would have been easier.

Instead, I struggled.

That's my biggest tip for this. Don't write a story where the evil is the main focus, and where you're constantly confronted by the darkness you want to run from. 

2. Write a story you love, one that feels safe, one that feels like coming home when you open the document.

This is pretty self explanatory, but if writing is a safe haven in the midst of a struggle, don't write something heavy or hard to grapple with. Write a story that lets you run into a meadow and sink your hands into the grass and breathe in the stillness. It's okay to be selfish and to write purely for yourself. Especially if you're hurting.

3. Write characters full of light.

I know grimdark is what sells. I know how popular Game of Thrones is. I know. I know.

But Lord of the Rings and Narnia and other such things are enduring and age-old for a reason. The fight of good vs. evil, and more than that, the TRIUMPH of good over evil is what we want to read. Our souls thirst for it. Write more of it. Let the light show up.

That's what I've got for y'all on this topic, but please, tell me your thoughts on this topic. I'm very passionate about writing as therapy :) 

You May Also Like


  1. I love this boo. You're brilliant as always! 💞💞💞💞

  2. LOVE this post, Faith. I've found myself writing as an escape recently, and I definitely need to keep your first tip in mind. Somehow I end up writing my own struggles into my current WIPs too, and . . . yeah, it doesn't always help. XD

    "Don't write a story where the evil is the main focus, and where you're constantly confronted by the darkness you want to run from." <<< exactly what I needed to hear today, thank you <3

  3. YES YES YES YES!!! I am a HUGE believer in writing being a light in the darkness--not just for others, but for OURSELVES. (And, crazily enough, I'm touching on that in a blog post next Monday! :D)

    Though sometimes writing makes me lose my mind... Eheh. I would be so, so lost without it. It IS such a beautiful, therapeutic thing. I absolutely love your tips. That is such a good point that we can't let evil be the focus. I am NOT a fan of this grimdark culture at all. I think all stories should leave us with a sense of hope and light, no matter how dark they may be. Because, for me, all good stories reflect the Ultimate Story, where Jesus gave us eternal hope through His sacrifice. And on that note, an absolute YES to LotR and Narnia being the stories that truly endure because our souls thirst for such powerful messages they give. PREACH.

    And I needed to remember your second point! I've been going back and forth on what writing project I want to focus on next, and right now I think I DO need one that makes me comfortable and happy to run to. I love how you put all of that.

    I love this whole post PERIOD. Thank you for sharing this! I think, right now especially during such hard days, we writers need to remember these things. <3

  4. Thank you for this reminder, because I really need to write my characters more full of light. Darkness is part of everyone's lives, but the characters can still be full of goodness 💜

  5. Oh man. Your explanation of the first point perfectly pinpoints why one of my fantasy novels so completely stalled out. I knew it was because the MC had taken a sharper turn than I'd expected, but I hadn't identified that it was so closely linked to the things I was dealing with; I was aware of both sides of that but hadn't connected them. And now I know what *not* to do when I rewrite it, lol.

    Thank you for this post!

  6. Such good tips. I bounce back between loving Grimdark and wanting everything soft and happy. XD

  7. Hello!
    Your blog was recommended to me by Alexa from Summer Snowflakes, because we both love the Wingfeather Saga! You have such a cute space here!

    Pretty much all of the writing I've done for the past several years has been to help me grapple with the brokenness of the world, so I definitely get what you mean. Somehow when I write I better understand the topic or dilemma, and oftentimes I get a blueprint for how I want to to move forward by first walking my character through it.

    It's so funny, but that's the exact reason I have trouble writing or even reading contemporary stories. It's just too close to the one I'm already living in! XD

  8. Oh man. Yes.

    I had the same experience a while back - writing a grieving character to process my own grief, which is...fine. but not when you get kinda mired in it. And at the same time, I've used writing to deal with other stuff I'm dealing with and if you do it right it's so HELPFUL? The extra motivation to write (because you're always hungry to write more and more and more) is a bonus too. xD

    All three of your points just really hit home for me and just YES. Our souls DO thirst for the triumph of good over evil. And even if your story deals with darkness, it's sooo important that the darkness doesn't take over. This is maybe a super weird comparison, but I heard the difference between tragedy and hell explained similarly??? Like, if there's a horrible thing, that's a tragedy. It's okay to write a tragedy. But if the horribleness leaks out into EVERYTHING, if you can't get away from it, that's hell...and maybe don't write that? Idk XD I just loved this post, okay, thank you for writing it <3 <3

  9. Dude, those six months had me on the edge on my chair because I was so concerned about all of the characters. Then those last three chapters BLEW ME AWAY. It was worth the extra time because you got everything in their perfect place. <3 I'm just sorry that it was a struggle for you!

    Writing as therapy is basically my biggest use for it. I have a rough day and I slam the keyboard getting it all down then change out the names. ALL OF THESE points are something that I really need to remember because right now I'm working with a negative character arc who is...kind of me. Yeah. After NaNo I took a break, but I hope to jump into it soon!

  10. Love and agree with all these thoughts! I love writing as an escape. My stories sometimes get dark, there is evil, but I'm writing to show that there is hope no matter how dark things get, light will shine through and it will shine all the brighter in the end. :)


Hello, friends! Do make yourselves comfortable and stay for a while--I'd love to chat with you! I simply ask that you keep it clean. :)