Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Emotions: Useful, Distracting, or Necessary?

I am sure most of you writer-types out there are emotional. You have to be, to get the myriad emotions of myriad characters to sound remotely believable. I'm wondering if your emotions ever get in the way of your writing?

I'm put in mind of an often quoted theatre saying: "Emotions? I'm an actress - I have ALL OF THEM!"

I had a really crappy day yesterday, but I had time and inspiration to write. This is the first time these three things have happened at the same time. Usually when I write, I'm calm and pretty cheerful. I'm almost always pretty cheerful (calm, not so much), so this was different for me.

I noticed my emotional state before I started, actually tweeted about it, wondering how it would affect my output. I ws a little concerned, thinking that I was so wrapped up in my head that I couldn't get into my MC's shoes.

I was so wrong. The words flowed faster than I could type them...I actually ended up with a few scandalous and hilarious typos by the end of it. I wrote, not releasing the anger as much as using it. I didn't write about what was making me unhappy (my MC's life is nothing like mine) but I wrote about unhappiness, worry, anger, sadness, stress - all of it just came tumbling out far easier than I'd expected. It worked, that was where the story was going. I still wonder, however, how I would have fared had I been expected to write a happy scene of forgiveness and joy.

So I'm wondering, fellow writer-types: do you find your emotions to hamper you as you try to get lost in your character's voice? Or do you thrive in whatever mood you happen to be in when your fingers hit the keyboard?

Do you change what you were writing in accordance with your mood?


  1. Heather, this is the main point of the book I've been blogging about. The author advises we learn to harness and use our emotions rather than fight them. He says it translates into characters that readers can identify with.

    Congrats on getting so much done last night.

  2. Wow, that's an amazing question. I think sometimes my emotions do fuel my writing and sometimes that is good and sometimes it's bad. There have been times when I've gotten on a writing high fueled by some unplesant emotions, and then during revisions I went, what was I thinking when I wrote that? Other times, I wish I could recapture that emotion even if it wasn't especially nice going through it.

  3. Mary, I've been reading about that book in your blog, and I've added it to my "Heather's Turning 30/Book Wishlist" (Which is like my birthday present registry, posted for husband to see...) I'm hoping to dive into it soon!!

  4. Melissa, I'm glad that I'm not the only one who seems to have a bipolar muse!

    I wrote a lot the other night, and reread it yesterday. I was pretty surprised at how coherent it was - I was expecting a lot of maudlin/angsty drivel. Now I'll just have to wait until I finish the book and start real revision to see if I keep any of it!

    If it makes it to the final edit, I'll know how useful my anger is!

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Nice insight on the influence of emotions on the writing. I think you are more right than you know about you being an actress. Seriously. Writers where so many hats and have to imagine so many emotions and situations just like actors do.