Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How writers put personal feelings to work

As writers we have the option of using our daily,
often chaotic, emotional range to our advantage.
Image courtesy of ©2005 je1196.
How is your writing going this week? Is your current project still exciting, or is it causing you intense anguish? Is the work moving forward, or have found yourself stumped and at standstill?

How are you doing this week? Are you proudly declaring yourself a writer or do you secretly fear being outed as a "fraud" because you haven't had a moment to devote to the craft?

As writers, it's common to feel an entire range of emotions regarding our writing and ourselves — sometimes several times in a single hour! But that emotional roller coaster doesn't have to be a curse. In fact, it can be a blessing.

Human feelings are complex, but the emotions we experience are universal. That's what makes the characters we love so much so relatable.

Feeling the arm-hair-raising thrill of anticipation? I'm sure there's a chapter in your book where one or more of your characters feels the same way. Take that excitement and work it into a scene.

Are you being pulled down into the darkness by the invisible weight of fear? One or more of your characters should feel that often. Time to tap into that boiling stomach acid and pour it out onto the page.

Uncertainty? Concern? Happiness? Heartache? Whatever describes your current state of mind, put it to use. Don't think about how pretty the words sound, don't worry about form or grammar. Just get it out and set those words aside in a special file for later. That way you don't have to wrack your brain trying to convey feelings that may be contrary to your own later on.

Franz Kafka once said, "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your soul according to the fashion. Rather follow your obsessions mercilessly." 

He may have been speaking about writing in general, but the same is true of conveying emotions. We were created to feel intently, so let your characters (and your readers) feel what they are intended to feel. After all, the best stories are the ones in which we as readers believe that whatever is at stake for the characters is going to affect our personal lives as well.

By the way, I honestly do are you doing this week? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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