Emotional hights: Good, or Bad?

by Grace Hopp
(Conway, AR. )

I find that my writing appears to improve when I am in an emotional high, whether that is up in a hyper mode, or down in a semi-depressed state. Can this harm my writing? If it does, how can I fix it? If it doesn't, can I, or should I, get this to happen more often?

Ps. I've been writing as long as I can remember and love it. It's always been my dream to be a writer. I have more books started than I know what to do with. None of them are even close to finished, and I need help. I also fear that those of my friends who have read them aren't giving me good advice or compliments because they fear hurting my feelings, even when I tell them they can't.

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Apr 11, 2011
Friendly Comments
by: Audrey

I'm addressing your second concern in a separate reply to keep the issues clear.

First, you are in very good company when you say you have lots of unfinished stories. I wouldn't worry about that too much. All writers have unfinished work lurking in notebooks, file cabinets or boxes in the attic or garage. Many of them will never be finished. Some are just waiting until the writer sorts out something either personal or professional that reveals what the piece needs to be completed.

Second, you are also in good company in having friends who don't want to hurt your feelings. That's one reason we choose our friends. We like to be with people who care that we not be hurt.

What you are looking for is literary friends, who care more about the writing than about your feelings. You will find people like that in writing groups, either where you live, or online. (My warning about online groups is that you not reveal personal information. The relationships you are looking for are not lifelong friends, but savvy writers and readers who can tell you the truth about your writing, not about your love life or your job prospects at the office. It's nobody's business how old you are, your gender, or where you live.)

Even in some of these groups there will be people who are worried about hurting your feelings to the point where they won't tell you the truth. When that happens, just move on until you find those who will.

You may find my article on writing groups helpful.

Librarians and high school or college English teachers often know where there are writing groups that might be helpful.

Apr 11, 2011
Emotions and Writing
by: Audrey

Your question about writing and emotion is an important one. Many writers have noticed, like you, that being in an emotional state can produce a higher quality of writing, or at least seem to.

It's easy to see how this can happen. Writing that pulls on a reader's emotion has power. We tend to write more emotionally when we are in an aroused state.

In general, this is good, not bad.

Now to your very important question about what to do about it...

First, I do NOT advocate any mind altering substances to get into an emotional state to improve your writing. I was around in the 60s when many artists were experimenting with all sorts of things to change their vision of reality. Some of them died experimenting. People are still doing that, and they are still dying or doing irreparable damage to their bodies and minds.

What I DO recommend is using your writing process to truly connect with deep emotion. The more you can access your subconscious where deep emotion lurks, the more material you have to work with.

One of the best books I know on this subject is Writing the Natural Way by Rico. It is full of great writing exercises to help you reach deep.

Be warned. This WILL take you to emotional places. The good thing is that your writing imposes a discipline on the process. Instead of just being flung willy-nilly into a slough of emotion, you have the chance to use your writing to work through what you uncover.

Writing is a wonderful way to sort through emotions and events. As a person who loves to write, you have a gift that will enrich your life and the lives of others who read your work.

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