Can The Writing Gene Be Passed Down Through DNA?

Hello, SE’ers! This is Jan Sikes, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to post my first blog on this site. It is truly an honor to join such a diverse and talented group of writers. Today I want to talk about a topic that I’ve had on my mind a lot lately as I watch my granddaughter grow and develop a talent.

Courtesy of Pixabay

CAN THE WRITING GENE BE HEREDITARY?

This is a question I have pondered, as I watch my nine-year-old granddaughter craft stories. She has quite the imagination and can sit down and churn out a short story in no time. Her latest was about a nine-year-old girl named Cleo, who discovers that she is a direct descendant of Cleopatra. The little girl, Cleo, also finds that she has secret powers. I was amazed when I read it. Needless to say, it is in dire need of editing, but the story idea is there and it flows.

My granddaughter, Sydney, age 9

So it got me thinking about hereditary things. Neither of my daughters has ever shown any leanings toward creative writing. But then I know it is common for some traits to skip a generation.

Experts say mental illness, Alzheimers, alcoholism, diabetes, and many other ailments can be passed down through our DNA. So why, then, couldn’t the creative gene be passed the same way?

According to John Paul Garrison, PsyD, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Roswell, Georgia, research points to personality traits and variables tied to genetics. “Being artistic or creative is associated with the personality trait of being open to experiences,” Garrison says. “Some research suggests that there are neurobiological foundations for creative individuals. Based on all available information, it is very likely that genetic influences shape the capacity for creativity –– it’s a complicated way of saying that creativity and artistic interests can almost certainly be inherited.”

In my case, I have an older sister who is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. And now, here I am crafting stories too. But where did we get our writing gene?

Our mom wasn’t a storyteller, although she did love to read. Our dad had only a third-grade education. He loved making up rhymes and jingles. Maybe he could have been a storyteller, given a chance. So, it might be safe to assume that his education and environment stifled him. An aunt on my mother’s side of the family wrote songs. I didn’t know this until after she’d passed away, although apparently in her younger days, she won a songwriting contest. So perhaps my sister and I inherited the writing gene in bits and pieces from both sides of the family tree.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Or, could it be that because we read so many books growing up, it was a natural next step to write? That certainly could have played a big part. We both devoured books during our formative years.

As science gets more sophisticated and advanced, perhaps they’ll figure it out.  We do know that environment plays a big part in any child’s development. But genetics is the only thing that explains why children from the same household have different skill sets. One child might be an excellent artist while another can’t draw a stick figure (that would be me, by the way).

It is fascinating, and I constantly encourage my little Sydney to pursue storytelling because she is good at it. I hope that maybe my writing endeavors will encourage her to keep writing and developing her natural skill.

What do you think? Can the writing gene be passed down through the DNA? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this theory!

96 thoughts on “Can The Writing Gene Be Passed Down Through DNA?

  1. I’m way behind in commenting (but I saved this in my emails 😉 ) Such an interesting subject!

    I used to lament that my father did not pass down his artistic gene to me. He decided to take up painting and was wonderful from day one – no lessons. Hmm. Stick figures? Yeah, that would be me. Funny thing is, give me a piping bag and I can draw on a cake – go figure. And painting is only one form of art, anyway. I do pretty well with a camera. So, maybe he did, after all, pass on a gene or two! He was great at telling a story and I think I’ve interited that from him as well. There are no writers in my amily that I know of. And neither of my kids is anywhere close to writing, either!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saving this post so you could comment on it! That makes me incredibly happy! I can vouch for your talent behind the camera lens! You are amazing. And you definitely can weave together a story. I’d say your father passed on more than a gene or two! I appreciate you taking the time to drop in and share!

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  2. That’s fantastic about your Grandaughter. You should help her sort out the editing and turn it in to a publishable book. I know I’d like to read it, and am sure others would too.

    As for your question: I think it can, though I wonder if it’s a creative gene that can relate to any of the arts, depending on how it melds with the other parts of your DNA that make you who you are. I also definitely think it needs to be nurtured. While it’s not true of all my family, there are definitely a lot of creative members of my family, many of whom could potentially be successful authors, artists, or musicians – in the case of some of them, like the youngest (and closest to me in age) of my brothers, more than one of those things – if they only applied themselves. Not all. I mean, I can think of a couple of family members who can’t draw stick figures, can’t carry a tune in a bucket, and couldn’t come up with a good story concept if their lives depended on it. But many of my family members, especially in my immediate family, definitely have that creative gene. Unfortunately, most of them lack that missing piece that helps you turn your talent in to something more than a hobby you dabble in from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for leaving a comment, Victoria. I would definitely love to help Sydney get her work edited and published! It’s a goal. You’ve made a great point with your family dynamics. It’s everyone’s choice as to what they do with their creativity!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Tuesday June 1st 2021 -#Poetry Robbie Cheadle and Annette Rochelle Aben, #Genetics Jan Sikes, #Afterlife D.G. Kaye | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  4. Jan, it’s good to see your smiling face here today.

    I loved the premise of the article and also learning about your talented grand-daughter. The Longeneckers and the Beamans can trace creativity in our lineage as well. One grandson plays the tuba with gusto and our grand-daughter has a drawing style similar to Beatrix Potter. Brava to creativity everywhere! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great topic Jan. I don’t see why creativity can’t be passed down. Kind of like the blacksheep of a family 🙂 like me. I have nobody creative in my family that I recall. The only thing I know about my dad is some few poems I found he wrote to my mother. So I’m claiming it came from my dad :). But like psychic intuition, my mother’s mother had it, my mother had it, none of her siblings, I got it and none of my siblings. So do we inherit the writing gene as we’d inherit psychic intuition? ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. An interesting topic Jan. My dad and mum are both great raconteurs. I grew up in a household where stories and life experiences were often regaled from father and mother to myself, my brother and my daughters. My eldest daughter and I love writing stories! My brother wished his work would make him redundant so he could retrain as a journalist. Sadly that never happened. But he is retiring this year. I hope he gets an opportunity to do something different then.

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  7. Great first post and topic, Jan which has invited many valuable comments… it’s interesting about the DNA testing in the above comment but do think the creativity gene is passed down and if it is nurtured it comes out faster however sometimes life gets in the way and we have late bloomers(like me) …Have a great week 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Sally. I agree that sometimes that creative gene can lie dormant until something triggers it. Opportunity is super important as is nurturing and encouraging.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: #ReblogAlert – This Week on #StoryEmpire | The Write Stuff

  9. I think there is something in what you say. I would say a creative gene, rather than a writing one. My family weren’t writers, although my mum loved to read, as do I. I liked writing stories at school, but it was music that was the creative thing in my family. My youngest aunt was a music teacher and brilliant organist. She was the first in my family to get a degree. My eldest aunt had a wonderful contralto voice that was likened to Kathleen Ferrier. She was professionally trained, but not a professional singer. I learned to play the piano and violin to a reasonable standard. My son plays the keyboard and writes his own music.
    My father was a good artist, and I also like to paint and draw, and make all my own cards, but I have been writing novels and poetry for the past several years.
    So creativity does seem to be passed down.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think so. A great example is Joe Hill. He secured his own publisher and became a best-selling author before it was revealed that he is Stephen King’s son. His writing is similar, but his character development reminds me a great deal of his father’s writing. My daughter published a children’s book on Amazon four years ago when she was nine. Whenever we do book signings together, she has the much longer line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is very interesting, Don. And I did not know that tidbit of information about Stephen King’s son. How awesome to share your writing with your daughter. That’s something very special! Thank you for stopping by and sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jan, this is a fascinating subject! I think I always believed that there is, in fact, a “creative gene” as both my father and his mother were natural and entertaining story tellers. Now I am telling stories in my own way, too. My father was also an artist — a textile designer, creating gorgeous tapestry designs. As children, we were also encouraged to read, listen to music, etc. My daughter grew up the same way and majored in art in college. And now my grandson loves art and painting. Although my mother didn’t write or paint, she was a fabulous seamstress, creating her own patterns and designs from scratch. And her aunt, who lived with the family while my mother grew up, was the same. So, I think nature plants the seed, and nurture helps it take root and grow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a perfect example to back the theory, Maura Beth. Of course, a creative tendency can either be nurtured or stifled, and in your case, it was obviously nurtured. And you are a fantastic storyteller! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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  12. I’m not sure if there’s a writing gene per se, but creativity can be nourished and supported by parents, grandparents and other relatives. Unfortunately, it can also be stiffed. Neither of my parents were writers, but in many ways, my father was creative, and he encouraged any kind of creativity in his children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree that creativity can either be encouraged or stifled by parents. But there are many instances where, as adults, the creativity comes out despite the parents’ efforts. Thank you for stopping by, Dan!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great first Story Empire blog post, Jan! And how wonderful that your granddaughter is writing, and that you’re encouraging her. Most writers I’ve met are also prolific readers, so if that form of creativity is a genetic trait, then the reading would be the catalyst that triggers it. It does seem that creativity in various forms runs in families. My dad loved to draw and my mom had great musical talent. I can’t draw, but others in the family are wonderful artists, and I can’t sing or play any instrument, but most of my family is musically gifted. Still, the creative gene did not miss me, and I write. I believe creativity is a divine spark we inherit from the Creator himself. I’d love to see that scientifically proven! You’ve certainly inherited it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to agree with you, Patty. The creative gene can emerge through different mediums, but I do think it is inherently passed down. I love that you refer to it as the divine spark we inherit from the Creator himself! Yes!! We all have the potential. It just needs to be nurtured. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a message and thank you for the reblog!! Hugs!

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  14. I definitely think the creative gene is passed down, Jan. My mom and her oldest sister are good at story telling and Jean has written a book about her husband [unpublished]. My biological father wanted to be an artist but became a chartered accountant. I wanted to be a charted accountant but am also keen on cake art and enjoy writing. My son, Michael, came up with the ideas for the Sir Chocolate books and his artwork is also very good.

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  15. A fun discussion, Jan (and wonderful to read you here on Story Empire). I don’t know if writing is hereditary. I’m from a family of writers, but more so a family of readers. Books were everywhere when I was growing up. My parents also encouraged me in all my endeavors and I think that was important too. Your granddaughter is adorable, and what a story idea! Wow. I hope she continues to be creative and explore her love of stories. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Jan, I’ve often wondered the same thing. Sydney definitely has a gift and I think your grandson Ryan could as well if he wants to pursue writing. He does love to read. In fact, more than any boy I know. None of my kids have any desire to write but my granddaughter Ashely did at one time and she was always writing stories. That one was posted in the Texas Tech magazine. But she hasn’t written anything for quite a while since she started working. Her social life has gotten in the way. Maybe one day she’ll pick it back up. I wish we knew where Aunt Evelyn’s talent came from. She had a gift for writing songs and if you recall, it was the writing contest she entered and won that paid for you to be born in the hospital. Our parents didn’t have the money. It’s a shame we never knew our grandparents. Maybe they were the creative ones. Although, Mom did like to keep a journal…… Love you, sister.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, that’s one thing I didn’t know, or remember, sister, that Aunt Evelyn’s prize money paid for my birth. 🙂 That’s really kind of awesome. I agree that it’s a shame we didn’t know our grandparents, especially our grandmother on Mom’s side. I’ve always felt a kinship to her and have her trunk. I agree about Ryan. He does love to read and I think that is wonderful. All of the children love to read. That makes me happy. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. And thank you for sharing that tidbit about Aunt Evelyn winning money to pay for my hospital birth! Love you!!

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  17. Hi,
    First, congratulations on your entrance into the Story Empire Writing community.
    I do believe that writing and music are inherited. I know that many people believe that writing as an art can be learned but I don’t think so. I think we are learned how to write correspondence like letters, tweets, emails, etc but when it comes down to artistic writing, it is in the genes or the DNA of a person.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you SO much, Pat, for stopping by and leaving a comment. As you say, we can be taught how to write properly, but artistic writing is a whole other game, and like you, I believe it is part of our DNA.

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  18. Starting strong out of the gate!

    This is a variant of the nature versus nurture debate, isn’t it? My sister and I both write, while my brother has an acute allergic reaction to the craft. Neither of my parents has ever shown an interest in writing (though they cultivate and support our interest in it), but my grandfather devoured books, and I suspect, had his life gone differently, he might have loved to try his hand at writing. He could certainly tell a good story. And I know he’d have been enormously proud of my sister and me if he’d been alive to see us publish our works.

    So, was our interest in writing nurtured? Or was it a product of our nature? Maybe a bit of both? I have no medical or scientific experience to back up my theory, but I believe both. Our brains develop as a result of both “nature” and “nurture” elements, so some creativity has to be inherited and some cultivated. Both biological and environmental.

    Talk about not taking a side, right? Heavy thoughts for a Wednesday morning. I need more coffee.

    Fabulous first post, Jan. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • As you say, Staci, I think the answer may lie with a bit of both. I love that there is scientific evidence that proves the tendency toward certain artistic abilities can be passed down. It’s interesting that your grandfather was the storyteller in your family and that, as in my case with siblings, you and your sister both write. I didn’t mention that I have two older sisters and a brother. None of them have ever tried their hand at writing, but my brother is an avid reader. Thank you for weighing in, and I also need more coffee!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I LOVE the topic of your first post, Jan! I do believe the writing gene and other artistic traits can be inherited. My father was an artist who dabbled in writing and I’m convinced my love of the written word comes from him. My brother is a musician who occasionally dabbles in art (I’m one of those people who can’t draw a stick figure). My grandfather was a musician who played several instruments and I’m sure that’s where my brother got his talent from. Now my nephew (also a musician) has started crafting YA stories.

    It’s awesome that your granddaughter has developed a love for writing so early. I started crafting stories in grade school too. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you have heavy proof that the writing/artistic gene can be passed down. That’s a lot of artistic abilities in one family, from music and art to writing. I’d say your family backs up that scientific theory. Thank you so much for weighing in, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. My father isn’t an author, but he can sure belt out pages when he wants to document his experiences. Both my sister and I write; she focuses on poetry whereas I focus on stories (though I also write poetry).Both of my parents are readers. My mom likes books, and I grew watching my dad read the newspaper. So, reading and writing were always encouraged in our family. Does my love/talent for writing come from nature or nurture? I’d like to think it’s a combination of both. I don’t know anyone else in either of my parents’ lineages who writes, and my son definitely does not show any desire to write, but my nephew is a bona fide spoken word poet. So, who knows! It’s an interesting concept to explore. Great post, Jan! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make some great points, Yvette, and one comment brought back a memory I’d forgotten. My father read the newspaper from the front page to the back page every day. He never missed one. I hadn’t thought about that in regards to writing. I also think the blending of DNAs can alter or enhance a particular gene, as may be the case with your son having no interest in writing. Knowing you, I’d be willing to bet he is an avid reader and who knows, he may wake up one morning with a story burning to be told. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. What a very interesting topic! Welcome, and thank you for sharing, Jane! I am sure talents are a little bit founded in genes. Sydney is your granddaughter, why are you wondering about her skills? 😉 Very often the skills plopping up, some generations later. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I’ve pondered this idea for several years. Both my father’s and mother’s sides of the family were creative. Mom’s Dad and one brother were fantastic storytellers, Mom as well. She dabbled in writing a little bit. My paternal grandmother and one aunt could play piano by ear. That same aunt wrote poetry. My brother and I are both creatives. He’s an art major who taught the subject for many years, made pottery, and drew. Like you, I can’t draw a stick figure. My brother has also written a few things, but I’m the one addicted to penning words.

    Great post, Jan! And I’d like to say again, I’m so glad you’ve joined us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think your family example helps shore up the idea that artistic genes can be passed down through DNA, Joan. How interesting that your brother chose the art medium to express his creative energy. I sometimes think that is truly a matter of choice. But for those of us who are addicted to penning stories, I’m not sure we had a choice. 🙂 The stories needed someone to tell them and “tag you’re it!” Thank you for leaving a comment and for the warm welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. This is a fascinating topic, Jan. You mention about creativity traits in people and I think this is likely. There are members of my family who are logical, clever people who love mathematical problems but generally only read non-fiction. Others are artistic, love painting, poetry and fiction. If you fall into the latter category and are given the opportunity to spread your writing wings then I think, like Sydney, there’s a good chance that you’ll weave stories that others will enjoy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Great point, Alex. You bring the right brain/left brain concept into the equation and I think you are absolutely right. Left-brained people tend to love math and read non-fiction while right-brained are the creatives who often struggle adding 2+2. Thank you for chiming in!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, Priscilla. Telling stories orally is one of the oldest forms of creative story-telling. And the more creative the stories, the better! Thank you for stopping by and chiming in today!

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  24. What an intriguing post, Jan! Your wonderings are mine as well. It was only after I started writing that I became aware of other writers in the family — several aunts, cousins, and my own kids. When my youngest was in Middle School, he developed a love for Stephen King’s stories. Of his own, he wrote to King, who to my surprise, wrote back. The two exchanged several letters, and this relationship prompted my son to write. Nature or nurture? Your granddaughter’s beautiful smile tells me that it is both. 💗

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think the consensus is that it might be a little of both, Gwen. How amazing that Stephen King actually wrote to your son. I can see where that one single action would have encouraged your son to become a storyteller. And how brave of him to send a letter, knowing the likelihood of receiving an answer was slim. Mr. King just went up a notch on my “like” scale. 🙂 Thank you so much for weighing in and for the beautiful words about Sydney!

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  25. I can’t think of any reasons why talents can’t be inherent, Jan, after all, our distant ancestors developed mentally as well as physically, otherwise we wouldn’t have cave paintings, pictographs, pyramids, megaliths, etc, which are all expressions of imagination. 😃

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  26. Pingback: Can The Writing Gene Be Passed Down Through DNA? | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

  27. Wonderful first post and subject, Jan 🙂 I love your granddaughter is already writing. My oldest granddaughter is composing stories too. I’m trying to gather them and save them on the computer. I definitely believe it is in our DNA. A few years ago I did one of those DNA tests to see what nationalities I was since my father was adopted. I immediately found a first cousin (and narrowed down which aunt or uncle was a grandparent). Turns out she writes children’s stories but hadn’t published yet. Since no one on my mother’s side barely read books this clicked where my love of reading and writing came from. My youngest daughter is getting ready to publish her first book too. So far it seems to be hitting the females but it continues through the generations.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You bring an interesting thought into the equation, Denise, with the female lineage. Females are almost always more intuitive and that could play a part in it. How wonderful that you are accumulating your granddaughter’s stories on the computer. That gave me the nudge to do the same. And how amazing to discover your lineage through DNA testing. It’s interesting to see it laid out that way. And I would say you are right in assuming your writing and reading gene came from your father’s lineage. Thank you so much for chiming in today, and for making me feel welcomed!

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