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A Moment of Reflection

September 4, 2011

These last few nights have been absolutely saturated with anxiety.

You know, when I was in high school I never used to get stressed about the new school year starting.  During college, I’d have one single nightmare before the start of a new semester about missing the first day of school, then I’d be fine.  But somehow grad school has got me gritting my teeth for weeks before the semester begins.

When I’m like this, I don’t tend to write much.  I think that’s a failing.  A good friend and fellow writer who I often turn to when I need inspiration or motivation tells me that she uses her emotions to fuel her writing.  If she’s in a good mood, she turns her attention to a more cheerful section of her story.  If she’s sad about something, she works on a chapter that reflects her heartbreak.  If she’s mad about something, she writes an epic action scene or some angry dialogue.

I’m envious of her ability to use her moods rather than let them hold her back, like I do.  If I’m cranky, I don’t write, end of story.  Maybe I should push myself to be more like her.  I suspect, though, that the fact that she doesn’t write her stories chronologically – she writes scenes individually and puts them together in the end – helps in this regard.  If the next part that I’ve got to write is a depressing bit and I’m feeling pretty good about myself, I’ll wait until later to write it, etc., which means my progress correlates to my emotions.

It also makes me think that her writing must be, well, more genuine than mine.  She is putting her own feelings into her work.  For me, writing is more like acting.  I am playing a part, pretending to be someone else, a character on stage, pretending to feel what I want the audience to think I feel, to convey a story.  Acting is about manipulation, and writing, I guess, can be about that too, knowing what to say to evoke certain emotional reactions in the reader.

But I’d rather it be genuine.

I don’t know.  Writing is one big experiment for me.  I’m trying to find my voice.  When you write, you are opening yourself up.  This is the story that I want to tell you.  This is how I want to tell you about it.  This is what I want you to feel.  These are the things that I think are important.  These are the characters I want you to sympathize with.  These are the ones I want you to hate.  These are the things I want you to think about.  You can give the same plot to two different writers and get wildly different stories in the end.

But I’m not sure what I want.  I’d rather be genuine, but I’ll still always see it as playing a part, and I’ve never been a method actor.  So should I try to be more like the writer I want to be, or should I accept the writer I am and try to improve what strengths I already have?


From → Inspiration

  1. I think using your emotions to write can bite you in the a**. If you’re not feeling that particular emotion, can you still write that emotional scene? Or is not going to be as realistic because you don’t ‘feel’ that emotion? There’s nothing more genuine about writing that way. I’d almost say that it’s LESS genuine, because they’re able to jump around scene to scene. To me, that doesn’t allow for the proper growth of a character. Thing that you’d discover about your characters in writing parts before it, are now lost in the wind.

    As a writer, we ARE the storytellers. We ARE setting out a verbal play for people to enjoy. You don’t have to feel an emotion to be able to portray it or get it across to other people. As long as your characters feel it…that’s the important part.

    Why try to write like someone else? Rather than forcing that, I would suggest just enforcing a daily word limit, period. You may not feel like (just like I don’t want to do the dishes) but it needs to be done. Write on something, anything. A new piece even. And set aside a time to do it. I started doing this in the morning. At first, it was hell. I felt like I was trying to sludge out ideas. But now, its almost like my brain recognizes ‘writing time’ and I’m able to get into it. It may not be the story that I want to work on, but at least it’s working on something.

    Wow….I wrote a lot. I hope I made sense. 🙂

    • You make a good point about the character growth. And you’re right, a daily word count would help. I’ve tried a weekly one in the past but I haven’t been able to stick with it lately.

      You did make sense 🙂 Thank you!

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