John Cooper Clarke, the British poet, was once told by a fan, “Hey John, love your poems. I write too, but I can only write when I’m depressed.” Clark replied, “Well I hope you never write then!”
However, most writers use emotion as fuel for their writing. There is a stasis, an equilibrium that our bodies and minds need to maintain their function, but as writers we fight against balance, we encourage any emotions that are on the edge. We embrace and harness our emotions and write about them.
Using Our Emotions
I go to a lot of concerts and am amazed at a generation that looks at a live event through the lens of a camera or phone. They are not active participants in a live event but passive passengers. They have a second hand account of the concert. They didn’t dance, scream, shout, get sweaty, bump into someone, make a connection. They remain unconnected.
We have to live. We have to get out in the world and experience life. Dive in the water, touch the stone, hug the friend, feel the emotion and store it.
Writing our Emotions
As writers we need to take the real emotions we feel in our every day lives and apply them to our characters. Harold Pinter’s play “Betrayal” was written as a response to his own tumultuous emotional experience of having an affair.
We need to exploit the dissonance and conflict in our emotions. You don’t need to have an affair to write well, but you do need to be aware of the emotions you’re experiencing in your daily life.
Do you harness your emotions in your writing? How do you capture them?
Pick an emotion from your day (today) and write about it quickly.
Where you were? What you were doing? What happened to evoke the emotion?
Then, write for fifteen minutes applying the emotion to a character.