This week saw me yo-yoing up and down the emotional scale. Like most artistic types, I tend to be more volatile so getting all emotional is nothing new. For the first time, I really felt like it affected my productivity especially when it came to writing. There are tons of articles like this one and this one dealing with the topic of writing with emotion. That’s not what this about. This about how to write when you’re feeling emotional.
Last Friday, my PC gave up the ghost and I spent a weekend desperate to write with my characters screaming inside my skull and was completely unable to get at the keyboard. On top of that, I was meant to see Placebo (If I see them live, I can die happy – that’s how serious I am about the band!) but their gig was postponed. I was also feeling down after a slew of short story rejections and a ton of freelance writing work building up due to the buggered PC. All of that did not make me a pleasant person to be around.
Thankfully, I was able to get back behind a PC on Monday. Not my own PC. My fiancee’s. Same OS, my own keyboard, less than a metre from my usual desk space, my own desk chair – despite all of that, my little corner of the study just felt all wrong. Wrong view out of the window, wrong proximity to the pup, wrong music player, wrong playlist (NO writing playlist!!). It just wasn’t working and I spent more time staring at a blinking cursor sulking than I did thinking about my story. Wallowing in self pity is never good for the daily word count.
By Tuesday, I’d managed to create a rudimentary playlist and stab out a few words. The blanket of depression was lifting ever so slowly. I still felt bummed about the gig and kept checking my email for updates. Wednesday went well with an addition of 2 000 words to my story but the plot seemed to be getting away from me. I just wasn’t in the right mood or right frame of mind and it showed. Bad things were happening to my characters, the story was getting darker and more complicated than ever intended and it was all because of me feeling emotional.
Writing is definitely a form of catharsis so I let it be. I poured out all my bitterness and angst and heartbreak into the novel. I let the characters be miserable and pissed off because that’s how I felt. In allowing that to happen, things started to take shape. The plot trajectory changed and my sweet little story has now become something a lot more nuanced and complicated. Things were going well. I spent Thursday teaching and my kids were awesome, the sun was shining, life was good. I came home ready to write, read some positive crits of my WiP and then I read my email. No Placebo gig. Officially cancelled. No gig in the foreseeable future. I was crushed. I spent the afternoon reading Twitter and watching interviews with Tom Weston-Jones and Charlie Hunnam. I wasted an entire afternoon of writing time.
Last night we put my PC back together and this morning it works. I rebuilt my playlists, finished up the freelance work, took pup out for a walk in the sunshine and I’m now ready to start writing in earnest. The first thing I’ll have to do is go back four chapters and tone down all the melodrama and angst. But something good came out of this depressing, annoying week. My story is a different creature, it’s darker, richer and has so many more possibilities for awesomeness because I went with what I was feeling and used my own personal emotions while writing. I’m not saying put a hammer through your PC and deliberately miss your favourite band’s concert to acheive this emotional ‘zone’ but when life hands you lemons, give them to your characters and see what they do with them.
How do you handle your emotions as a writer?