Tag Archives: writer

Emily Starts a Second Draft

I’m normally a great hater of editing. It’s my least favorite part of the writing process. And though I’m sure many writers will comment in agreement, I have actually met people who have said that editing is their favorite part. So, just in case, I’m clarifying that I detest it.

I’ve finished writing five novels. But in the past every time I’ve finished one I’ve pushed it to the side in favor of starting another writing project. But I’ve begun to realize how ridiculously harmful this is to my writing process, and I’ve started to understand how much I need to start trying harder if I want to ever achieve actual publication.

So what prompted this seemingly random decision? Well, there were a few different factors.

One: I took a fiction writing class and actually learned something about writing. And now I want to employ what I know and use it to make my past works better. It also forced me to actually try editing. And though I didn’t like it, I recognized the benefit on the final polished product.

Two: Three out of those five books I’ve finished were partially written in high school and are outdated in terms of my beliefs and my feelings about life, beyond just having some serious writing flaws. They contain a naiver and more confused version of myself that I no longer really like. They’re also pretty badly organized over all.

Three: Several people (I really should just say my mother here because it’s closer to the truth) have been bothering me about when I will get a book published or if I’ve even tried. And I don’t feel comfortable sending any works out without having done some serious reworking. So if I ever want to get people off my back on that, I’ll need to actually make an effort.

Four: Sad to say the person I’d cowritten four of those books with has long since moved past these novels into works that are more “mature”. And I’d have to agree with her that many of these are somewhat naive, but I think they’ve always held a lot more significance to me than to her. And…on top of that… we had a kind of messy falling out last winter which we never did anything to resolve…But even if we somehow managed to work around that, I have no reason to believe she’d ever want these stories to actually go anywhere, so I feel only minimal guilt in trying to rework these. It just saddens me to see the works that I spent so much time on having to go into a trashcan because of everything. And that’s why I’m going to rewrite this book.

I think I’m only going to have the energy to do one novel, because many of the others are more heavily influenced and would be harder to rework, and also because with the plot changes I’m making the other books likely wouldn’t be able to continue. But I want to work to make this one its own, to be a part of my healing process. And to be honest this was a huge part of my decision to finally bring back these old books of mine. To start processing everything that happened. A means of wiping a messy slate clean.  Of recognizing my works, my experiences, my old writing and remaking it. Its a way I can recognize my past rather than running from it. And it’s about reclaiming what is mine. And reclaiming has become a huge part of the book actually.

The story The Tale of the Rose (you can see the plot on my What’s in my Cup page) revolves around the duchess Katherine who becomes a pirate and struggles between living the life she loves, and living the life that is right for her people. It’s written at the end of her life looking back on all she has accomplished and her many adventures. Her stories, and those of her best friend, the famous adventurer and magician Night Hawk, have become the source of many ballads and legends and children’s bedtime stories. Her story is in fact quite the fairy tale-like in its plot with wicked stepmothers and mysterious pining princes and dark curses. But many of those accounts are actually wrong…

The new draft of the book revolves around retelling these dramatized and beautified stories. It involves reclaiming one’s own story and explaining life in its full messiness. It’s about moving past the childish innocence of bedtime stories into the real world of pain and heartbreak and suffering. And though I’m uncertain exactly how I’m going to employ this whole thing, I know I’d love to put these pieces together into my novel. At the moment I’m thinking I’ll include snippets of ballads and stories of Red Kate and Night Hawk in between the actual chapters. But I’m still working to make sure that will be effective to the book as a whole.

This is where I am now in my life. I’m moving into adulthood. I’m beginning to realize life is harder than I might have thought when I was young. My life isn’t following that little set formula of happily ever after I’d always expected. And it’s becoming time for me to reclaim my story for what it is. For its realness. For its messiness. For the fact that I am my own amazing self, with or without someone else to share that life with. My first version said something along the lines of “romance fulfills you and makes you the best you can be” my new version says “you are who you are, and no romance will ever fully complete you and until you understand your real self you can never expect someone else to.” And I think that’s incredibly important.

So what all am I going to be doing:

  1. Going through and reworking plot. Figuring out a basic sense of where the story is really going. Trying to reinstate a sense of what the book is about in general.
  2. Reworking some key characters so they fit my story better. Night Hawk in particular has been given a huge makeover, and I’m excited to see her come to a full fresh start.
  3. Outlining outlining outlining. I’m going to make a full working outline including all the things I’ve written and what I’m going to get rid of, rewrite, replace, or edit.
  4. Making a list of all sections/characters/plot points/countries/whatever else was contributed by my ex-cowriter and ensuring that these elements are removed so that the story can fully be my own.
  5. Starting to go through and doing those steps I’d listed earlier of deleting, rewriting, replacing, or editing sections.
  6. Whatever the heck else needs to be done. From here on out it’s a bit of a mystery. But I suppose if I ever do finish it will be sending manuscripts off next.

Well, I have three work in progress pieces right now that a few friends are reading. And they’d probably kill me if I stopped writing midway through. So this project might be slow in the works. But it’s still exciting for me that I can finally say I’ve started a second draft. There’s officially a “draft two” document saved on my computer. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.


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Write What You Know

One of my favorite books of all time is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Maybe someday I’ll actually write a post just on it, but for now I was skimming through old favorite parts and I ran across something I think is so crucially important to writing.

So a little backstory for those who don’t know. Fangirl is about a young English major named Cath who goes off to her first year of college and spends most of her time sort of hiding in the magical world of Simon Snow, a magical series of books that she is utterly obsessed with. She’s entered into a fiction writing class for upperclassmen, and she has trouble when she tries turning in fanfiction for some of her assignments.


She and her professor have a conversation at one point that goes something like this:

Professor Piper nodded. “You said something last time that I’ve been thinking about–you said that you didn’t want to build your own world.”

Cath looked up. “Yes. Exactly. I don’t have brave new worlds inside of me begging to get out. I don’t want to start from nothing like that.”

“But Cath–most writers don’t. Most of us aren’t Gemma T. Leslie.” She waved her hand around the office. “We write about the worlds we already know. I’ve written four books, and they all take place within a hundred and twenty miles of my hometown. Most of them are about what happened in real life.”

“So everything in your books is true?”

The professor tilted her head and hummed. “Mmmm…yes. And no. Everything starts with a little truth, then I spin my webs around it–sometimes I spin completely away from it. But the point is, I don’t start with nothing.” (307 Rowell).

Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013. Print.

I read this novel going into my senior year, finally taking the fiction writing course my college offered. The amount that I related to Cath was enormous, just in being a shy and confused English major and having trouble interacting with others etc etc etc. But I really related to her when it came down to my final fiction writing project.

My whole life I’ve tried weaving fantasy worlds. Occasionally I’ve branched out and written something more real, but for the most part I’ve always been taken with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and knights and dragons and fairies and other things not of this world. But for my final project I just kept drawing a blank. Coming up with a fantasy world was one thing, being able to contain it into a short story was another. And so I knew I needed to do as Professor Piper had suggested. I needed to start from something. I needed to pull in real world knowledge.

Last year I really strove to be better at standing up for myself. I’m usually quite terrible at it in general Especially when it comes to saying no. Even in the last week I didn’t say no to a friend when she asked me to do something I didn’t want to, and I bought something I didn’t need from a little girl who came to my door. I’m still working on it. I’m still getting better. But this last semester I did try better at speaking out in some difficult circumstances, especially in ending a friendship seven years in the making. Because I realized after a while that I had to stop being nice, that I needed to start standing up for myself and saying no. And in a moment of inspiration, I decided I should write about that.


I did. It was beautiful and fulfilling. Almost more so than making magic worlds or watching my characters live happily ever after. I was able to share an experience I’d had with the world. I was able to capture how hard it is to say no, but how crucial it is at the same time.

I’m still considering trying to send the story out, otherwise I’d put it up here for you to read.

The point I’m trying to make is sometimes you have to dig into yourself to find something worth writing about. Maybe it’s not as exciting on the surface as creating something completely new or magical, or writing about something in another country or another world, or going back in time. But it’s meaningful because it includes your passion and emotions. I think it gives people something more concrete to sympathize with. I felt particularly pleased when my professor commented in class “Oh I think most of us have had something like this happen before.”

So, has anyone else had a moment of real life you’ve decided to use as a catalyst? Do you feel like most of the time you write what you’ve experienced or create from nothing? How do you find yourself being inspired?


Filed under Writing

Practice Makes Perfect

So one of the things I’m doing this summer is teaching an older couple in my neighborhood French. They’re both incredibly sweet people, and have done quite well all things considered. One of them has never learned French before, and the other learned it in high school and has since forgotten most everything he learned.

I think one of the biggest problems for myself is that I’m finding my own rustiness the more I try to teach them. I’ll look back through my lessons later and realize how badly I messed up a simple conjugation, or they’ll ask for clarification on pronunciation and I’ll realize I pronounced something wrong. And it’s extremely frustrating after all the time and effort I’ve put into learning a language. But the thing is I haven’t been using all that much French, so in a lot of ways it makes sense I’m not up to where I used to be. It’s not unlike me pulling out my violin after a year without touching it and trying to play again. Let’s just say that didn’t go so well either…

2014-05-11 2014-05-11 003 055

Me in Paris during study abroad.

The same idea applies to writing, at least for me. If I don’t use my writing skills they rust up, it stops feeling natural. And it’s the reason I’ve been continuing to participate in Writing Challenges on twitter where I have to write 500 words a day. Not only is it a great way to make friends with fellow writers, but it’s been a way to keep myself diligent and keep my writing skills from getting rusty.

Last month I wrote a total of 60,000 words. And yes I now know I probably could do NaNoWriMo if I wanted to. But the one problem is that most of what I was writing isn’t something I’d publish. I’ve been dinking around playing with different story ideas that I don’t consider in any way worthy of publishing. I haven’t really touched my novel I was working on since I graduated. And sometimes I feel ashamed that I’m not working on something more important or worthwhile.

But the truth is that those words still count. Every one of them counts. Maybe they aren’t going towards the next great American novel, but they’re going towards continuing to make me a better writer. They’re going towards creating confidence in myself and my abilities. They’re going towards continuing to practice and perfect the craft I love so well.

So this is my encouragement for language learners, musicians, writers, or anyone else who is doing something that requires some level of practice to continue to function: set small goals for yourself. You might not be able to go to a foreign country and immerse yourself, but pick up a movie in the language and watch that. I like taking my French Bible to church with me and using that as a once a week tool. For an instrument, try to set a certain number of practice days a week for an instrument or join a group that will keep you going. And for writing tell yourself to write a certain amount. Maybe that’ll be a hundred words a day. Maybe a weekly goal of 500 words is more up your alley. Or maybe just have a goal to finish a chapter or short story by a certain date. Find what you’re comfortable with and set that as your goal. But find ways to continue practicing.

Piano 2

That doesn’t mean you have to remove the fun element either, and recognizing the usefulness of moments that aren’t professional but help you practice are great. Take joy in those moments you get together with a few friends who also play instruments and jam just for fun, even if you’re not making money performing. Or enjoy just reading a blog in another language, even if you’re not off translating for someone important. Or simply realize that writing for fun has its uses too, even if it’s not something you’ll publish. Each word you write keeps you practiced and ready to continue writing when more important occasions should arise.

What goals do you set for yourself? Do you feel like writing for fun is still useful? How do you keep in practice with writing or other activities you might do? Have you had times you’ve felt rusty at something you once were good at?


Filed under Writing

Opening the Door to Criticism

Back when I was in high school and was still very involved in music, I remember the terror of upcoming performances. A school orchestra concert was fine, but it was the solo moments of performing that always terrified me. It was the recitals, auditions, festivals, competitions, and all that jazz that had me a nervous quaking mess.


My trophy for six years of consecutive excellent ratings in the Certificate of Merit festival

After failing one audition my senior year, I had a long talk with my private violin teacher where I lamented how my nervousness had destroyed me, even though I’d been very well prepared. Her advice to me is something I’ve never forgotten.

Practice regularly in front of other people, she said. Sit down and make your family and your friends and other people listen to you over and over and over again. And you’ll start to get over some of the jitters. The best thing you can do is practice.

I took her advice for my next piano festival, pulling a few friends aside after class to make them sit in a practice room with me while I played my pieces for them. And it really did seem to help in some respects.

Violin 1

Me at my violin recital

What I’d never considered before this year, was doing the same thing with writing and the thing I feared above all else: criticism.

I am a sensitive person. I hate hearing negative things, whether about myself or my writing or something else entirely. I just don’t take it well. At all. But the thing is, this last year I decided to do a novel for my senior thesis project. I knew that would involve regular checkups with my professors who would end up reading my works and looking at them critically. I was understandably nervous.

And yes, my first few meetings with my advisors were rough. I was embarrassed and extremely jittery. What I found, however, was that the more I practiced giving my works to others, the easier it became.

I had to do a writing group for one of my classes, I was taking a fiction writing class at the time constantly putting short stories in front of my peers, I sent out a plea on Facebook for readers and gave a few drafts to different friends.

Now, I won’t just pretend I can now hand over a manuscript with absolutely no fear, but I certainly stopped hesitating in hitting a send button to send a section to someone. I stopped having to do three edits before being brave enough to give my work away. I started feeling less hurt every time someone told me something I needed to change or suggested I do a rewrite.


I think my violin teacher really hit home with the basic concept. The more you get used to something that seems intimidating and difficult, the less scary it becomes. Normalizing and immersing yourself in a fear can help you adjust to it.

So my advice for being more open to criticism may seem a little odd, but the best thing you can do to is to take more of it. Keep giving your work out to people. Keep working on being more open to feedback and realizing it’s helpful. Keep being brave and testing yourself. But also keep recognizing the small victories for what they are. It isn’t easy sharing with others, nor is it easy facing potential negative feedback or more critical points, but like any good thing in life, practice makes perfect.

Here are just a few ideas: join a writing group, put up a Facebook post asking for readers, ask a friend, find an online writing community, ask a mentor, teacher, or professor (for students especially), find a website to post works on, try posting sections of your work on a blog, and just keep an eye out for opportunities to submit works to different places or give it to further readers.

How do you deal with criticism? What methods do you use to be brave? How do you choose who gets to read your work? Just a few good questions to get some conversations rolling. Let me know your thoughts!


Filed under Writing

Back in Circulation

Long time no see blogging world. I feel like at this point I’m like that library book that’s been lost for months and you’ve given up searching for. Hence my title.

I could try all I want to offer all the excuses I want about why I’ve been away so long. I could write on and on about how busy I was at the end of my school year, or how I was swamped trying to finish part of a novel for my senior capstone, or how I’ve been avidly searching for jobs or anything like that. But I don’t think those would be the truth, and I’m a person who does in many ways value honesty.

The truth is I’ve been depressed.

I have suffered from depression for a long time. The first I truly remember dealing with this problem was when I was fifteen years old, but it’s possible I’ve dealt with it even longer than that. I’ve never been a truly smiley cheerful person, as much as I want to be one, but I guess it’s always been a bit more than lacking that optimistic touch. It’s been something deeper and harder to change. And no, I’m not talking just general sadness. I’m talking can’t sleep or will sleep the whole day, always feel tired, can’t get through a week without breaking down, having no appetite or wanting to eat everything, dealing with negative thoughts etc. type depression (got to love the English language that makes the word depression have different connotations).

Of course, I go through ups and downs. Sometimes life feels bearable, and other days it’s hard. But this last semester has been particularly rough. Trying to deal with the world rapidly shifting beneath my feet while wondering what is possibly going to come next. Feeling discouraged in hopeless job searches, and dealing with having to move away from my friends to a different state. My whole life I’ve put a lot of my identity in being a good student. And now that’s gone. And sometimes I wonder what’s left if I don’t have that anymore.

Sometimes when I’m depressed my writing comes more easily than ever. I can feel utterly inspired to put my feelings and experiences down on the page, or escape into a little fantasy world for a bit. But at others, it becomes incredibly hard, especially in trying to write something like a blog. I want to maintain some level of positivity on here. And that can be hard when I’m not feeling all too happy about life.

I don’t expect other people to understand, but I thought my readers deserved a truthful explanation. I know I’ve had Twitter followers who have been asking after me, so hopefully this answers some of those questions. Too often I’ve felt like I have to hide what I’m dealing with, and I’m kind of sick of it. I think people deserve to know. So I’m back for a bit, but if I leave again you’ll probably know why. I have some good motivation this month since I’m doing July Writing Challenge. I’m hoping to really be active in continuing to write, both in fiction and on this blog to meet my daily word count goals.

I might be a graduated English major, but I still have valuable things I want to say about reading and writing and the English language. So, though I hate to make any promises, I hope to use this post as encouragement to keep checking on my postings. Because hopefully I’ll have some more up in the next few weeks.


Filed under Writing

Fairytales and Farewells- A Short Story

I’m feeling in the mood to write depressing fiction this week. I’ve been thinking a lot about fairy tales lately, so I thought I’d write a piece with this inspiration in mind. Enjoy!


Fairytales and Farewells

So this is goodbye.

In movies they make a big deal of these kind of things. Tears and broken words and people hugging. In the traditional story motif, when a character bids family and friends farewell to set off on the quest, there’s teary smiles and well wishes. It’s not like that for me.

Goodbye is numbness. Goodbye is unreal. Goodbye is something it never should have come to. But I suppose by now I know everything has to come to an end. Even the things that once made us happiest.

I used to never feel like I belonged. I was the awkward uncomfortable child who spent recess on the bench with a book of fairytales to hide the fact that I didn’t have any friends. I faced teasing at school, intense conversations my parents didn’t think I could hear at home. And I began to be aware that no matter what I did I would never be quite right. Normalcy wasn’t an option. So maybe there was something else.

I used to imagine I was a foundling. That one day I’d go back to my people and find the real place where I belonged. Maybe I was just like the little ugly duckling, waiting to swim among my fellow swans. In the meantime there was misery, and I began to despair that redemption never would come.

But when I was ten was the first time I met Zayn.

Another day on the playground bench, ignored by the teacher on duty as a few of the boys in my class through balls my direction, made sneering remarks. I huddled in on myself, book up to my face as though to shield me from the world. And for a while I absorbed myself into fiction and I could forget who I was and where I was and everything that was wrong and difficult and hurting.

It was his voice that drew me out of where I’d buried myself.


I looked up to see him perched a few feet away on the bench, blue eyes staring at me intensely, this crooked smile never wavering.

“Hi,” I murmured, sliding the book down.

“I’m Zayn, nice to meet you,” he said.

I managed to stammer out my own introductions. My fingers were tight on my book. Could I go back to reading? I didn’t know. Was that rude? But did it really matter considering who I was and what other people thought of me already? Zayn was new, he’d probably figure out soon I wasn’t worth his time.

“I like reading too,” Zayn said. “If I bring a book out next recess, can I read with you?”

I nodded and then ducked my head back towards my book, trying to hide my embarrassment. Zayn didn’t seem to figure out I wanted to be alone. After a long moment of him sitting there in silence, I turned to offer the book I was reading.

“It’s Hans Christian Anderson. Do you want to read with me?” I asked.

He flashed pearly teeth and reached for the book. We flipped back to the beginning and for a minute I thought we’d just go about reading ourselves. Then Zayn started speaking out the words, voice slow but steady, keeping himself flowing through the story of the small mermaid trying to win her prince.

For the next year of grade school, we spent recess like that. Always with a book, always with each other. Sharing a simple love of reading that none of the other kids ever seemed to understand. Hiding in the realm of books that had come to be my safe haven.

Zayn was always there. He didn’t ever question the way I dressed, or when I’d tell him I didn’t want to go home because mom and dad were fighting again, or when I came to school with a bruise on my cheek. He told the other boys to piss off and kicked the basketballs they threw at me back in their faces.

For a while I was almost convinced Zayn had slipped out of the pages of one of my books, or straight out of my imagination. But storybook characters can’t hurt you. People you imagine don’t break your heart.

We were friends all through our young years of school, but puberty was when disaster struck.

I hadn’t anticipated it, but it made sense. Zayn was the one who had rescued me. It wasn’t dissimilar from the princesses in fairytales. I was his damsel. And if that was the case, it made sense I might unintentionally hand over my heart. What I was oblivious to, was the fact that Zayn never once saw us that way. For him, I was a fellow nerdy classmate he’d befriended on the playground. And nothing more.

So it was logical that a few months ago he started dating this pretty girl in math class. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I shouldn’t have been so angry. I should never have shouted at him one day. And above all, I should never have told him how it made me feel.

It’s a funny thing. As children adults tell us so much how important it is to be honest and voice what you really want to say. Especially about feelings. There’s a whole lecture from the school counselor on conflict solving the little I felt ___ when you ____. It sounds all nice on paper. In the real world it sucks.

Zayn tried to pretend it was fine when I finally worked up the courage to tell him. He apologized and said he respected that and appreciated honesty. But the Zayn I knew died that day, replaced by a stony replica who stopped inviting me over and sitting with me at lunch and telling other people to not pick on me.

After six years, the barrage of those old emotions coming back was overwhelming. For a good portion of my life I’d stopped feeling like I didn’t belong. I’d begun to feel I had a place. Maybe I wasn’t quite so much of a mistake as I’d felt like the beginning portion. But with Zayn gone, those painful emotions fell back into place, sweeping me up in a drowning tide I could not escape.

If I was truly a damsel, and my circumstances were my tower and dragon, and Zayn was not my knight…what was there for me? Few fairy tales ever answers that for you. Almost every princess has a prince, as sexist and frustrating as that can be. But if you’re helpless to stop any of it yourself, what is left? Sure self-empowerment is great, unless you’ve got no energy to fight in the first place. I might as well be Sleeping Beauty for all the energy and motivation I had to make life change.

So this is goodbye. The realization that whatever I had is gone. That whatever there is in the future I don’t want to face alone. That whatever happens, I am incapable of handling this level of grief and farewells and endings. So often the story ends with a kiss, a wedding, a happily ever after. Stories don’t tend to prepare you for when they don’t. So this is mine.

I sit here in these last moments looking down at the churning sea below. Was it supposed to come to this? Is this what love is supposed to feel like, stabbing in your chest and panic in your mind and utter overwhelming inability to move at the mere thought—

But none of that will matter anymore. After all this time, none of it has. My sacrifices, my honesty, my bravery. The few little bits and pieces I’d cradled inside me for so long, wasted on a foolish boy who cared nothing for such fragile bits of vulnerability.

I have nothing left here. I have nothing to fight for. I have no ending in mind, and so I depart on this quest in hopes of finding a happier ending to what I have now, in hopes of finding what’s right and true. In hopes of finding where I truly belong, hoping to make my home in these icy waters, my portal to the next place. I’m going and there is no stopping me…

So this is goodbye.


Filed under Writing

Stormy Skies

I thought about spending some time revising this, but with the amount of essays I have coming up I decided to just post it for your viewing pleasure instead. Here’s another free writing exercise I did for my writing class. We were supposed to write about a scene on a vacation and convey something through the setting. Hope you enjoy it!

Stormy Skies

The beach was under assault. Whenever Ashley had pictured Mexico, she’d thought of sun and sand and clear blue water. But today’s forecast had chosen gray and windy with a chance of hurricane instead. She sat on a chair in her room looking out over the sea, watching the waves crash along the edge of the empty beach. Hotel workers along the strip of wild sea were hastily gathering up beach loungers to be put away until the sun returned. Ashley watched one of the large umbrellas topple down and begin a swirling run along the sand, moving further and further away from the original destination. A worker started chasing after it, shouting something in Spanish to the other men.

Ashley curled tighter under the blanket she’d dragged off the bed. What was there to do in Mexico with awful weather, she wondered. Well, perhaps if the internet was working it would prove a distraction for a few brief minutes. Grabbing for the computer she’d set on the desk Ashley pulled it onto her lap, glad for the warmth, drawing her legs off of the cold tile to meet the heat of the device. She typed in her password, fingers clacking against the keys and echoing in the small chamber.

Once online she scrolled through Facebook before flipping to her email. She let it load for a moment before scanning the ten new messages. It was the third from last that had her fingers pausing over the mouse.

Her brother had emailed her, a rare occurrence to be sure. She opened the little message, smile growing on her face, only to be dimmed as she scanned the actual words.

Dear Ashley,

I know you’re on vacation, but I figured it was better if I told you this now. I hope it doesn’t ruin things for you, but I knew you’d be upset if I didn’t tell you.

Leila was found dead yesterday morning. Her boyfriend found her in the bathroom with her wrists slit. It was a real mess apparently. I guess she’d been off her meds again. I didn’t realize. You probably didn’t either.

I know we haven’t been close for a long time, but I wanted to let you know I’m here for you.

Your brother,


Ashley stared at the words for a long moment. She was distracted by the clattering nearby as the chair on her porch blew over. She muttered a curse and stood, walking over to the door and opening it, staggering out into the storm, robe flapping. The wind whipped her dark hair into her eyes, blinding her momentarily, but she pushed it aside and hastened over to pull the chair up and tuck it in the porch corner. She grabbed the other one and stacked it on top, hoping the two wouldn’t fly away.

After a long moment she turned to the railing of her hotel, placed her hands against the hard wood, raindrops cold beneath her fingers. The sea air filled her nose, salt and sand forcing their way towards her on the wind. She stared out at the sea, and wondered if this storm would ever end.



Filed under Writing

Writing with Emotions in Mind

So last night I tweeted about feeling emotionally drained after a long hard day, and that I was only able to make my goal of 500 words through sheer willpower. Someone tweeted back asking how that went.

Though my response was no, I thought the concept was interesting. So I decided to write a post exploring some of the pros and cons of writing in a variety of different emotional states.

1. Angry

Pros: Sometimes writing angry is fantastic! You can get all those negative emotions out on the page. You can kill off some characters. If you’re like me it might give you a level of concentration on the story, focusing in with all that energy you have.

Cons: I would say while there is maybe an added level of concentration, there is a lower quality of content. The feeling of “ug I hate life I need to go write some awful things right now” doesn’t lead to the best consideration of either good plot or often good editing throughout. But hey you want some raw rage on the page, go for it.

Example from my own writing (apocalyptic angry world destruction):

And thus what had been foretold in ages past came to be. The death of the final Crisanto heir in a season of deadly plague and madness caused rifts in the political structure. The chaos of untold proportion took over, the already potent disease spreading insanity in its wake. Malliatur in the meantime had abandoned its normal ally, forgotten old friendships and times of Genevieve and Katherine.

2. Sad

Pros: Sometimes sorrow can access deeper places of reflection. It can make you see life in a different way, can open up areas of yourself you wouldn’t normally get to see. It’s difficult, but there’s beauty in it too.

Con: For me writing while sad usually just makes me feel emotionally drained afterwards (like last night). Like other forms of emotion writing, it is therapeutic, but does not provide the same level of “I feel better” afterwards. It may be cathartic but it doesn’t leave me as satisfied immediately after finishing. Maybe by the next day though.

Example from last night (has a tad bit of irritation in the tone too):

Ug, this week’s visit was awful. I cried for the millionth time. I hate people seeing me crying.

3. Joyful

Pros: Oh gosh, so much energy! I’m talking you found out you won the lottery kind of joyful of course, not just “it was a good day” but those are helpful too! The main thing for me is this can lead to a nice amount of productivity. Oftentimes, I’ll feel very confident and happy with my writing at the end too rather than the self-critical mode of other moods.

Cons: Ok, sometimes this actually can be the opposite and be distracting rather than helpful. Like an “I want to leave and go do something fun rather than sit in my room and write!” type attitude. Also, one can become a little overzealous in the writing, maybe not producing great quality stuff. (see example below)

Example (oh let’s just be honest it’s going to come from a romance book and what better than a wedding scene):

My smile broke into a full grin as I leaned forward at the same time Max did. I put an arm around him and next thing I knew my lips were pressed against his, firmly and passionately. I closed my eyes and smiled into the kiss, unable to contain my happiness.

4. Solemn


Pros: Being serious can sometimes be a good thing. But seriously, having a solemn attitude can help when writing a more important scene that requires attention to detail and needs more of a somber tone. Especially if you’re writing essays or something else like that.

Cons: Definitely not the best for writing sections that require a lot of emotion. Maybe it helps you not be as attached to a character you’re killing, but if you require emotion in a section, having a more unemotional approach can be troubling.

Example (a super serious conversation):

“You’re making more progress on becoming organized,” she stated adjusting her eyeglasses and reaching for her notepad. “With organization we can begin to get more of an idea of what was going on. I want to make sure we have a better idea about your treatment.”

“You mean what drugs to put me on,” he stated blandly, looking at the snow again.

She pursed her lips. “You want to talk about drugs. Let’s start with these first.”

She pulled the bottle that looked very prescription-like out of nowhere and flashed it at him. His eyes narrowed but he recognized it.

5. Anxious/Stressed


Pro: Is there any kind of pro for anxiety? It’s awful. However, I find writing relatively cathartic when it comes to this emotion and it can make for some great emotion in your characters too. Get some of that stress on the page!

Con:  Well, sometimes stress can make it hard to write. Especially if you’re worried with projects or current things to be working on. So yes, that doesn’t always provide great focus.

Example (something where I tried to communicate a level of panic):

Her heart was racing as she tore through the trees. The urgency had never been more. Images of him dead or injured kept racing through her mind. It would be just like the last man in her life…she winced at the very thought. No, she couldn’t allow this to happen another time. That would absolutely destroy her.

6. Disgusted


Pro: Alright, if you’re trying to be critical of some kind of societal issue that bothers you this is a great time to use disgust to motivate you.

Con: You might not want to write happier nicer things if you’re feeling disgusted with someone or something. Because your tone might be a bit warped by what you’re feeling.

Example (tone in this piece is not truly disgusted, but it communicates an issue I am disgusted by–and I won’t be surprised if I get comments on that)

“For them college is like the modern version of a dowry,” Marzanna said with a laugh. “If they’d had their way they’d have shipped me to the best school in the country where my expensive tuition could prove I’m one of the best and the brightest, and therefore a very eligible bride ready to meet equally eligible men. And I’m trying so hard, even wore my nerdy book shirt to show off how awesome I am. I’m sure to get an MRS degree like this.”

7. Reflective

Pro: BEST WRITING EMOTION! Ok, well for me when I’m feeling reflective is a great time to sit down and write. I feel poetic and thoughtful, I have a lot to say about the world and won’t be hindered by some of those negative ones. It’s fantastic.

Con: Can become too poetic. Also, possibly more self-critical in this state at times. Regardless, I find a lot more positives here than negatives.


She let her mind linger instead on the sound of the wind, on the fresh forest smell, on the beauty of the doe she briefly caught a glimpse of wandering through the trees. She gazed at it thoughtfully, wondering if in the spring there would be a baby following this particular deer. She was magnificent, so slender and graceful, each quiet step barely rustling a leaf beneath her. Melanie froze and the creature turned to look at her with wide dark eyes. Melanie gasped, looking deep into those beautiful irises.

So that’s that. A list of nice little emotions that translate into writing. What emotional state do you like best for writing? Have you noticed yourself communicating different moods you are feeling onto the page? What other states do you wish I’d added?

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