Writing while emotionally raw is kind of like drunk texting. The results can be dangerous and embarrassing the morning after but, it can also lead to some delicious revelations. Just like that ex-boyfriend you never had the guts to call a jackass while sober, writing while emotional can remove some of the self-editing and allow the truth of a situation (or storyline) to emerge. At least, that’s what happens to me… To the point where I sometimes crave a dark moment just to see what creativity flows from it.
When I was in my early 20s, living the student life and working as a musician, I was convinced my best musical works were conjured when I was either depressed or sleep deprived. I decided I absolutely could not write a piece of music before 3 a.m. and would intentionally stay awake to create a somewhat delirious state of mind. At that late (or early) hour, my anchor to all the insecurities preventing me from exploring stories and descriptions outside a formula seemed to fall away, leaving a flow of creativity.
For me, delirium and darkness might have been what someone else regarded as their muse. The problem with being committed to your muse is, when it isn’t there, neither is the will to write.
Not surprisingly, that process wasn’t very sustainable. As I entered the world of journalism and hard deadlines, my editors poured gasoline on any notions I had of motivation-by-muse and lit a torch.
When you’re three hours and four stories away from a daily newspaper’s print deadline, you “sit your butt in the chair and write” (this bit par-quoted from the ever-fantastic Lauren Dane). Or start working on your resume.
Now that I am older, I value sleep and sanity. Writing is my business.
The dark moments are rare, but when they do happen I try to embrace the new perspective.
The past two weeks have been challenging emotionally. Health issues, insecurities, overall life questions were really eating me — more than usual — and it motivated a particularly relentless session of plot reworking.
Something about the relationship progression between the hero and heroine has been like vinegar… And I couldn’t figure out why.
Well now, I know. Just like that woman who needs a little liquid courage to tell her ex-boyfriend he was a jerk, I needed a little turmoil to realize that my heroine lacked a meaningful purpose. She talks a big game, is wicked good with knives but her actions were driven by mush. Once I dug into her true motivations, the path and plot is so much more compelling.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have arrived at that conclusion at some point in the writing process but sometimes an emotional shift can speed up the process.
So, how does your emotional state affect your writing? Do you need a shift in mindset to provide fresh perspective of your work or life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…