Tonight’s guest blog post is brought to you by Allison Foster.
Sometimes I find it hard to write. I feel emotionally congested and incapable of getting anything out. Like today. My fingers are spasming all over the keyboard and making it hard to spell anything right. I feel overly emotional, though with the morning I have had today it is no wonder. Sometimes life just throws you a curve ball and you have to cope. But how can you write when you are so upset and your mind is a whirl? Here are some tips that might help you out:
- Accept the emotion – The first thing you should do is to accept that you are feeling emotional. It will not do you any good to deny that you are upset, irritated, sad or whatever you are. By accepting the emotion you can use it as fuel instead of fighting against it. Sort of like turning a sailboat into the wind, use emotion to move your writing forward and help you to get things accomplished.
- Do not worry about making sense – Sometimes when you are emotional you do not make the most sense. Anyone who has ever had a fight with a partner knows that one. However you should not worry about making sense when you write when your emotions are high. There will be plenty of time to edit and correct later. Right now just use that energy and enthusiasm to get the works out on the page and make the most of your time. Some of the most poignant and clear things I have ever written have come out of emotional exhaustion and word vomit.
- Edit later – Like I said, do not worry about what you are writing. Edit later/. I know all those misspelled words and green and red underlines are irritating but try to ignore them. The idea is to harness this up swell of energy and use it to come out with something living and vibrant. If you stop to fix things you will either get frustrated and give up or you will just lose your train of thought completely.
- Write an outline – If I have an idea and I know I will lose it along the way, like I have often done, I will take a minute or two to sketch out an outline of my paper so that I can keep track of what I wanted to write. Make sure it is clear enough that you are not trying to figure it out again later, but do not take up all your time writing everything down. Just get the gist and get back to writing with your head clear and your fingers flying.
- Let your characters lead – One thing that writers often forget is that you are both in control and not in control of where your story is going. In fiction writing the characters you create are yours, but they are also people with emotions, foibles and sensibilities all their own. Sometimes when I am in an emotional state those characters take on aspects of that emotion that match their characters and then they take off. I have had many stories where a secondary character has taken over because of the power behind her emotions are the depth it gives to her character in the story. It can be a great boon to have a character like that as they are often the most real and communicate with the readers on a visceral level.
- Feel free to write dialogue – I know that dialogue is one of the hardest things for me to write, especially when I am not emotional. Everything comes out all stunted and boring and informative, not like real talking at all. However when I allow my emotions to go lose on the dialogue it comes out choppy, confusing, and utterly realistic. Real people do not speak in whole sentences. They talk over each other, argue, reference things, and are just messed up. This adds a layer of reality to your fiction and can make it seem more like real people talking. Emotion is great for encouraging you to write creative and explorative dialogue.
- Stream of conscious – I know one of my favorite chapters I have ever written was written stream of consciousness. Because I was in such a highly charged emotional state, that happened to mirror a character’s state at the time, I used my own emotions to uncover hers. She exploded off the page with angst and agony that I had never known she possessed. I, the writer, was shocked by her experiences and her heartache! As I read over that chapter later I loved how raw and real it felt, and completely separate from my own troubles. This was no Mary Sue, but I had tapped into the emotional reserve while becoming the character to create someone who was three dimensional and really real.
- Fight scenes are great – I love to write action and fighting scenes when I am all riled up. They have to be wick and fast and to the point, which means my fingers are flying across the keyboard. When I am all riled up the scenes seem to flash in front of my eyes and it is all I can do to type fast enough to get it all down. You know how fast your mind works in a fight or flight situation, right? Well, think about that combined with high emotion and spread out across paper. Yep, that’s just about perfect for a fight scene.
- Get angry – When your emotions are high it is easier to get in touch with the emotions of others. I find I can relate to my bad guys so much more when I am upset. I feel their anger and resentment. The cold calculation or the red blood lust. This tapping in to emotion can allow me to enter into a character I otherwise would have little compatibility with and make them not only realistic, but likeable in a bad sort of way. Tapping into anger and all the negative emotions that we deal with as people allow your caters to become more real.
- Get sad –Like anger, sadness can work its way through your story to become an integral part. Your characters are going to be sad sometimes, it is a part of life. Maybe the bad guy is winning, maybe someone has passed away, and maybe the love is gone. Allowing yourself to feel that sadness and even cry with your characters can help you to create ones whose feelings are honest and real instead of cliché and fake. Sadness is hard to portray without getting maudlin, but if you can tap into your own feelings and reactions then you have a better chance of getting something real out in the chapter.
These are just a few of the ways that I have learned to harness my emotional energy and write great on bad days. We all have days when everything seems to go wrong but that does not mean we can’t be productive. There is a reason that many of the classic famous writers were tortured souls. They tapped into that intensity of emotion and allowed others to see it through their characters, creating stories that grip us, entertain us, and make us see the reality in the fiction.
Thank you, Allison.
Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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