Friday, May 9, 2014

Series: On Being A Writer: Channeling Emotion

There was a time in my life where everything I'm brave enough to write, on this blog, was absolutely impossible. Whenever I put my pen to my pad, the minutia of my day would appear avoiding anything substantial or transformative. This didn't only happen when I was writing for the public. It happened in my personal journals, as well. There was always a notion that I might lose it, someone might read it, or I would leave a negative legacy behind. 

I wasn't utilizing writing in its most amazing form. 

Its therapeutic form. I had a million dreams, hopes, and worries zooming around my mind, but I was afraid to pen them. If I'd held on to that fear, I wouldn't be writing this blog right now. 

I want to talk about channeling emotion during writing. Sometimes it's a rush of feeling, it might be an incident that's dying to be penned, but most often it's something that needs to conjured. 

The first time I ever wrote something transformative, something that rushed to the page with a fury and allowed my readers to share in my plight, I cried the entire time. 

I was feeling down for several days and I decided that the only thing that could pull me out of my funk was working on my novel. I never quite got to furthering my fiction. Instead, I found myself writing a memoir about the events that created my depression and I couldn't stop. 

There were moments that were too difficult to get through. I found myself walking away from my computer desk, fiddling with things in my surroundings, and trying to avoid the page. However, I had to get through it. I needed to get through it. I wanted to recount the event, piece by piece, and leave them there once and for all. 

It wasn't until I was finished the piece that I realized how magnificent it was. Everything poured on to the page in raw form. There was no editing, no backtracking, no perfection. It was 2,312 words of me. 

I didn't mean to share it. 
However, the next morning, I reread it, took out a few parts, and put it on my blog. The response was tremendous. Women swore they'd faced the same thing and that they thought no one else would understand. They argued, empowered one another, and discussed the piece in the comments. 

I was amazed that I allowed myself to put something that powerful online.
I was touched that folks could see their reflections in my struggle.
I couldn't believe that I could appropriately convey such emotion, in any of my works. 

I didn't realize it then, but this was the beginning of my most powerful prose. I'd created a process to help me write the difficult things. I want to share it with you. 

Sit. Think of your experience. Close your eyes if you have to. Let the memories flood you. Let your heart sink to your stomach or your smile grow wide. Get choked up, laugh, curse it. When you feel it, rushing to the tip of your fingers...WRITE.  

1) Write with no holds barred. I'm serious. I don't care if you have to punch the wall, cry over your keyboard, dance and sing in between stanzas, and/or walk away every five minutes. Write it out, until the entire experience is on paper. Do not edit as you go along. Do not reread. Do not think too deeply about it. Just write. 

2) Finish and walk away. You need time away from your work. Take a nap, go for a stroll, or look at it the next day. You'll see your work with a fresh set of eyes that'll be unbiased during editing. 

3) Take out what makes you uncomfortable. Everything isn't meant to be shared. If something doesn't feel right, if you don't want it out in the world....get rid of it or keep it for yourself. (This might apply to the entire piece.)

4) Share or don't. 

These are your memories, your feelings, your experiences. It's up to you if you'd like to give them to the world. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. Some recollections will feel amazing once you've called them forward, others will break your heart all over again. However, every session will be its own therapy. 

Impose memories on fiction characters. 
Delete ignorance from memoir. 
Be selective.
Be inclusive.
Remember the good things.
Swallow the bad. 
Embrace all of it.

It's up to you. Happy writing. 

Comment below & tell me about your own process!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great advice, as always. The most powerful pieces come from the peaks of ones highs and the pits of ones lows.