People have mood swings. It’s a fact of life. So, why not put them to good use in your writing?
I was furious, stunned, and bereft years ago when my first husband left me. But, right away, my writer’s brain kicked in. I vowed to make the most of my situation by writing about it, and garnering some much-needed income. It took me a while to write publishable, helpful-to-others material. Raw emotions are great, but they can quickly devolve into drivel if not skillfully handled. Fortunately, my early, emotionally-saturated drafts served as a great tutorial for me on the importance of expressing emotional details truthfully without unduly burdening a story.
You don’t have to ‘dig deep’ when your emotions are roiling on the surface. The trick is to capture the emotions without reducing them to a vapid rant (unless, of course, that’s exactly what you intended).The immediacy of emotional reaction followed, at some point, by a bit of meaningful reflection creates perspective, balance, and takeaway for the reader.
My purpose in writing about my split was not to further humiliate myself or my ex. My goal was to help me clear my head of distressing chatter while, simultaneously, making a sale. In the end, three of my stories were published anonymously in True Love and True Romance magazines. Better still, the process served as my introduction to writing about romantic entanglements, emotional baggage, and love. Since then, I’ve sold more than a dozen short romances to women’s magazines and anthologies, all because I chose to harness my emotions and learn as a writer.
Recently, after a particularly depressing week with an aging relative, I pulled out several sad scenes from my work-in-progress novel and delved more deeply into my protagonist’s sorrow. Fortified by my own undulating moods, I was able to add details and tweak passages to reveal more about my character through his thoughts and feelings, words and actions. I hope the additional depth will create more emotional impact for my future readers.
Day to day moods and emotionally-charged incidents provide the grist for authentic, compelling writing that resonates and inspires. So, go with your moods! Pay attention to them when they strike. Give thought to their roots. Note how you handle them. Consider their impact and power. Then, pass them along to a character or piece of prose, and watch your writing come alive.
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Wendy Hobday Haugh, a freelance writer from upstate New York, has written stories, poems, and articles for a wide range of magazines, including Woman’s World, Saratoga Living, and WritersWeekly. Her stories have appeared in six “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthologies. Currently, she is in the final stages of editing her middle-grade novel.
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Great article and advice.