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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

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

stress

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

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.

Example:

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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Finding the “Write” Place

Am I going to lecture you on setting? I could. However, I find more important than finding the proper setting for your story, is finding the proper setting for you as a writer. So here are some important factors to consider when picking a location for writing.

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Example 1: Natural setting with table and chairs

1. How easily distracted are you? This is a key element of choosing a writing setting. If you’re someone who is chatty, maybe limit your contact with people, if you’re someone who finds noises irritating, maybe keep headphones for less distracting music, or try finding a more tranquil environment. It’s all about you as a person.

2. The Internet Question For some writers, the internet is a trap, something that will pull them away from their creativity into countless hours of Youtube or pointless games or too much time scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or who knows what other social media site. However, for others they can avoid such and keep their internet for use of research or other handy writer tools. If you’re the former, I recommend doing research ahead of time and then going somewhere outside of a wifi network if possible to write.

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Example 2: Natural setting, lounging

3. Comfort vs. Focus In one of my first writing classes I was told that as a writer you should be comfortable while writing. And I often find this method is useful, but sometimes it lacks the disciplined feeling that I need to really get work done. So it’s always a toss up. Write on my bed and feel comfy and relaxed, or write at a desk or table sitting upright, feeling more focused and ready to go. Both can yield results, it just depends what I’m looking for.

Example 3: The organized desk setting

Example 3: The organized desk setting

4. Brainstorm Shortfalls A few months ago I was setting in to finish my novel and posted a photo of my writer’s den on Facebook. I thought I had everything I needed: coffee, tissues, granola bars. However, my close friend commented reminding me of one crucial element I’d forgotten: chocolate! All jokes aside, keep in mind what you might need for writing for a long time. Be it food or drinks or money to purchase those if need be. Sunscreen for sunny days outdoors, or a jacket if it gets chilly. Brainstorm what you’ll need so you have no excuses once in place to leave.

Writing den fixed up with chocolate to keep me going!

Example 4: Writing den fixed up with chocolate to keep me going!

5. Inspirational Material Maybe you feel inspired sitting on the beach. Maybe it’s out in a grassy park. Maybe you like that coffee shop environment or even just a restaurant setting with people around you, energy to feed off of throughout. This goes hand in hand with my next suggestion

6. Define the Mood Maybe what you need is to get into the mood of what you’re writing. Put yourself into a place where you feel ready to write about something like this. Serene and tranquil- go enjoy that quiet park. Action packed and tense- Busy cafe or bench in the middle of downtown. Try to pull these into your considerations. Change it up, don’t write in the same place if it makes you write the same way every time.

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Example 5: Natural setting, minimal comfort

7. Your Personal Soundtrack Maybe you need music to focus. Again, pick something that fits what you’re looking for in your work. Maybe intense film score, or a pop song for that angsty breakup scene. Maybe you want to get some nature noises to listen to if you’re stuck inside and need to attain some of the nature scene you’re looking for. Or maybe quiet is what you’re looking for. In which case, find a place that gives you that.

The main thing is to limit your possible distractions, put yourself in the mood to write, and find the best place to inspire your creativity! Keep these factors in mind if you can. The right place can be crucial to giving you the results you want.

Where and when do you write? What factors do you think are most important?

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Words of Inspiration

Gregory Norman Bossert.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of advice along the way. For a writer hearing some words of wisdom from those higher along in the journey is often an enlightening experience. It is handy to know what the best things to do as a writer are, what helped them on their road to success. This buzzfeed article has several pieces of advice from famous authors. Enjoy seeing what they have to say. You’ll see a few repeats in ideas of course, but there is quite a lot to gain from this. Enjoy! And feel free to comment with your favorite. My favorite is number sixteen “Your story is not done until you have told it to someone you would not trust with your life.” It reminds me that as an author I have to put myself out there, be brave, and in doing so share with those who I normally would not trust. There is some risk involved in writing, but there are good things as well. And that’s definitely something I need to remind myself of as I write. What pieces inspire you most? What advice do you need to follow more?

Let me know which one you like most and enjoy!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/27-pieces-of-advice-for-writers-from-famous-authors

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September 17, 2013 · 2:54 PM

“Please Don’t Kill Me” and Other Tales in Writing

frabz-please-dont-kill-me-a34e6fHave you ever been writing a death scene in a novel and have this feeling that if your character was a real person he or she’d be giving you puppy eyes while pleading for his or her life? “Please don’t kill me!” he or she says. For me it happens all the time. Yep. Pretty much every time I go to kill off a character. Which I am currently trying to do at the moment with no success…

So today’s lovely post revolves around killing characters. Yes, killing characters.

From a reader’s perspective there is nothing worse than when an author decides to go and off one of your favorites, but honestly as a writer it’s painful too. My characters become special to me and that makes it all the more painful when I have to get rid of one of them. After all, I am their creator, and I certainly know them better than anyone else. So how does one really go about killing a character? Well, I will give you a few methods. As I am an amateur character killer, please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

1. Cry- Just do it. You might have to shed a tear or two, but just do your best to get it over and done with. Take the time to mourn the character properly and keep the tissues close by as you take them to their imminent death.

2. Plan ahead- plan in advance whether you will kill a character or not. If you know in advance then do your best to distance yourself.

3. Off-screen death- write a death without the details. In other words, have someone find the body, or hear mention of the death in a letter. This is somewhat easier to do.

4. Character’s marked for slaughter- This goes with planning ahead, but create characters specifically meant to die. When that is their intended purpose it is often easier on you as a writer. It also means you can give them habits that annoy you.

5. Alternative methods- is there a way to get rid of this character without death? Can they be banished, sent to prison, turned into a frog? If there is a way to get them out of the plot without death go for it!

6. Evil characters- Obviously if you feel you must kill off some characters killing the bad is the best option. These deaths leave readers feeling satisfied and are easier to write in the long run. Readers may also be more willing to forgive a good character dying if an antagonist also joins them.

7. Humane death- Choose a death for the character that they would want. For example making them a martyr or sacrificing them for a cause or another person. While still extremely sad it can definitely make the death seem for more of a purpose.

8. Picture readers- In all honesty it is my goal to make readers experience emotion, particularly sadness. If I hear someone read my novel and cried I feel I have a success (unless of course it’s meant to be a comedy but was just so terrible they had to cry). So picture your readers feeling emotional over this death. Picture how much it will bring to your book as a whole.

9. Consider the end result- Sometimes a death just needs to happen for a plot to progress. There are many examples in literature, but perhaps considering Oliver Twist’s mother. Had she not died at the start then there would have been no plot to the story, but instead the orphaned child manages to have a tale due to his circumstances. Sometimes a death must happen for more than just making the plot interesting. Sometimes it is necessary to the story.

10. Give up- If all else fails cry and give up the story completely. We can’t always be strong as writers.

So there are some nice little methods or tips that I have. If anyone has any to share please feel free. I still have to work on my killing strategies as well. Now please excuse me while I go cry over my latest inability to pull the trigger.

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For History Buffs, English Nerds, or People Who Like British Accents

I haven’t read a lot by Phillipa Gregory. She is well known for The Other Boleyn Girl. The only book that I remember reading by her was The White Queen. If you’ve heard anything about the British king (Richard III) found under the parking lot in recent news that’s the era her book was set in.

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She is a wonderful historical writer who does an excellent job of creating a story from historical events. As she states in the video, her work is based on years and years of research and education. As a result her books are well written, elaborate in plot, and dense in history.

For a British history nerd like myself she is a dream come true and I can only hope to have more time over the summer and spring break to read her other works.

I think the element I liked best in her video was her solution to stop writers block. I have not had an opportunity to try it but I have experienced very strong inspiration while on walks with my own dog, so I suspect her suggestion is a good one.

The other fact I found interesting about her was that she can write anywhere. During our classes study of writers most have said that solitude is where they get their best work done. Gregory is quite the opposite. She says she can write anywhere, just as she could read anywhere. I have to admit I am with Gregory on this. I certainly may be more focused if I write in solitude but I write in airports, the dining hall, my noisy dorm, and while watching a movie. I think the choice of solitude just depends on the individual writer. I admire Gregory for being able to pursue writing wherever she is.

So, I hope this gave you some good insight into what the writing process looks like for a published author (especially a historical one).

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