1. PurpleCao
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    PurpleCao Member

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    Emotional states and their influence?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by PurpleCao, Nov 17, 2009.

    I find that with many writers, myself included, you have to be in a certain type of emotional or mental state before you can write a specific story in the way that you want it to be written. I'll give my own example as well as a question below, but i'd like to know if your emotional state has ever helped or hindered you.

    More than two years ago, I wrote a short prologue whilst heavily depressed in going through a poor relationship that ended around that time. To this day, I consider it to be some of my best work.
    I have recently wished to continue this work - one of darkness and morbidity involving the un-living.
    The problem with trying to write it now... It seems i'm too happy. I cannot force myself back into depression, and my style of writing whilst out of the depression is far too.. floral.
    I have tried for a day to write, and have mustered less than two paragraphs that I consider to be of similar quality to the original work, despite writing three or four actual pages that were not of good enough quality, and I fear the good work I have done was purely a fluke.

    How can I get myself into a state that would be sufficient to continue a tale of darkness started whilst I was depressed?
     
  2. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I listen to depressing music.

    But since I haven't resolved many of my emotional issues I find I write darker stories better then I write floral stories. I don't want to write floral anyway. My goal is to become a horror writer. I say channel any emotion you have as fuel for your writing. My best work, all though laced with SPAG sometimes, is when I'm tired. And it's usually the most dark I can get.
    Maybe try that. When you feel tired try writing.
     
  3. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    Strangely enough I don't really have any emotions when I write. This is not to say that I am entirely indifferent to life around me, I just do not personally have to be afflicted by the emotion to be able to convey it. I've always believed writing is something extremely personal and something which should be natural. To me it is an psychological event where you release every single bit of inspiration and love through your fingers.

    So instead of becoming depressed or exceedingly happy (for no apparent reason mind you) I sit alone in a quiet room with my eyes closed and I write. My friends always joke that I look like I'm meditating or that I'm just asleep. In truth I'm probably more awake then they are.

    If nothing else I always refer back to Bruce Lee (of course) and what he said: Be fluid, like water.
     
  4. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Purple, I understand completely what you are saying, and do agree that emotional states are very influential on writing. It is much like acting as well. For example, the death of Heath Ledger. Supposedly, he had put himself in such a mental, depressed, agonized state while playing The Joker, that he had to be on meds after the shooting of the film. This is considered one of the methods of acting, getting so into the character that you almost become that character, feeling each emotion that that character would feel, thinking thoughts that character would think, it makes you almost as if you had a split personality, that you take on another personality.

    I've been trained in that method of acting. It is very, very emotionally taxing. It did help me though with writing. The problem is I don't like to do it too often because it can lead to some serious life consequences.

    Some people think of acting as pretending, which in a way it is, but when using the method of becoming the character it can take on a life of it's own. I remember during one of my monologues in acting class, I spent three weeks memorizing and practicing this very angry character. I actually become very angry in reality. My tempter was quick, and my husband said it was worse than my PMS!

    When I write, I tend to only get into my MC's head. I don't usually focus as much on the surrounding characters, or stock characters, but feeling what my MC feels can be just as emotionally straining as it was in acting. In one work I am doing right now, my MC is terrified due to many scary things happening. All I have to do is sit in a dark room to feel what she's feeling, or go out for a walk around the house in the dark to get my adrenaline pumping. Sometimes I just sit and meditate to get into my character's head, but much of it is basically the same techniques taught in the Meisner type of acting.

    When trying to take on someone else's emotional state you have to know why they feel it. Why a person is depressed. What thoughts might be going through their head to cause their depressed emotional state. All of our emotions start with a thought. It can be one that lasts for all of a 1/4 of a second, but there is always a thought no matter how small to start the chemical reaction that causes us to "feel." You don't have to be depressed yourself, but you have to get into your character's head as to why they are depressed. It could be a bad childhood, low self-esteem, or other situational types of things causing it. Try to think thoughts that would be associated with those circumstances as your character might think them. Write it out as a stream of consciousness if that would help you, or voice record yourself saying those repetitive types of thoughts.

    Depression is also a very self-centered state of being. All thoughts revolve around the MC. How things are not going their way. How life isn't fair. How they can't handle whatever is being thrown at them. How it's not the life they would have chosen. How they have no control over their life or themselves. How everyone is judging them. And on and on...I know, I've been there, as have plenty of people. But to write it effectively you have to recreate the emotion, but don't let it stick inside of you, otherwise you might fall prey to it.
     
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  5. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    I have to agree with Bluebell here. Whilst i'm not a total stranger to the topic i know exactly what you're getting at. For me it was more of a i need to write when i'm depressed or unhappy or not particularly pleased with what's happening. I have found though that in the end my worst or most pointless writing came when i was in that state. I guess judging from the responses here that it's a different story for everyone.

    Although i also try to get an emotional sense of what i'm writing through music. If i'm writing a fast action scene, maybe something upbeat and adrenaline pumping, the same applies for a sad scene or a romantic scene. Bluebell's advice is something which sounds like it should work. I'm not an actor so im not so well versed in acting techniques but i have had one character, Tom, who kinda took over in the sense that everything i was doing in reality had a connection with him. Eventually though i moved on from that story and when someone mentioned the name Tom i kinda had a nostalgic moment, like one you would have when you're suddenly reminded about someone you forgot. I've always wanted to have this for all my characters but i kinda fear having one or more Tom's hanging around. Scares me quite a bit.
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually get back into the emotional state by reading what I wrote previously and then continue the stream of words on the page once it ends. Sometimes, though, I get too carried away by it, so I always go back and edit things when my head is more level -- balance it out a bit so it doesn't become sentimental drivel. I think my best writing is that which has been molded and remolded by all my emotional states, so it reaches a kind of balance between them.
     
  7. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    My suggestion is to find a peaceful place where you would not be disturbed, and bring yourself back to the past, where it all began (the story). It's the experience, Purple. As I've told other people before, no matter how you sympathise or empathise with someone, you cannot feel the exact thing he feels, because you're not in his shoes.

    You did not go through the things he went through. You don't think the way he does. So no matter what he tells you about the current situation, you cannot fully understand his feelings. Just like how people from different backgrounds may experience friction, similarly as long as A is not B, and B is not A, no matter what equation you use, the outcome can never be the same (of course, considering it's a non-zero inducing equation).

    What I mean is that, the you now, and the you from the past, are two different people. I'm talking about this in terms of experience, but even your perception can change within a short period of time. So, you need to return to the past, evoke the emotions from the past, mainly the most depressing part, to remember the feeling, and perhaps get the inspiration to write. Warning though, this can take awhile.

    This last paragraph is regarding my experience with returning to the past, though I may have fabricated it, I don't know (I have short-term memory). By bringing up things from the past that saddens me, I can feel the same emotions and cry every time. Then I fall asleep. The pattern repeats every time. I have done this for more than 5 times.

    But that's just me. Though, if you're up to it, you can try. GL.


    "Shoot for the sun. If you fall, you'll land on the stars."
     
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  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My two cents are:

    I cannot write anything worth anything when I am in an emotional high or low. Later, when I go to review such writing, my emotional agitation comes through more than what I was trying to write.
     
  9. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    When I write, I'm as cool as a cucumber. I think about each story element carefully and write it to have maximum impact on the reader.
     
  10. MelissaL
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    MelissaL Member

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    Its a little different for me, usually when I'm depressed I can't write at all. When I'm happy I enjoy writing and then I can't stop! Ever try to recall your feelings at all? I find that easy to do when I don't feel like that. I wouldn't recommend you try to make yourself depressed just to write a particular scene. I don't like to relive the pain, so I don't try to make myself feel that way. Writing it down though is a far healthier way to deal with it.
     
  11. PurpleCao
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    PurpleCao Member

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    Thanks for some of the advice - i'll clarify.

    I'm trying to write a Vampire story. It's based on european lores, but a fair few other legends do get in there too. My writing style is decidedly dark, but I can't seem to manage to keep it as consistantly as I could whilst depressed.

    My writing is far less dark than I would wish it to be.
     
  12. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    So, Purple, you're trying to write a depressed vampire story. Well establishing why your vampire is depressed, dark and brooding will help you. Does he hate the fact that he is vampire? Does he still sympathize with his human victims? Is he emo?

    The answers to those questions will give you the reasons as to why he is dark, depressed, and brooding. Granted, dark, depressed, brooding vampires seem to be a dime a dozen these days, you may have a character that differs from other characters out there. He/she is in conflict with their inner dark desires and their humanity (their desire not to harm innocent people.) You could always write a vampire who is part Lestat and part Dexter (from the book series and TV show.) The desire to take human life is there, but the desire to preserve innocent people and only kill those who are wrong doers. Or you could explore the feelings the MC vampire feels in taking an innocent life as opposed to the life of a person who is a killer/rapist/ect.

    There are a lot of things you could do with a dark, brooding vampire type that doesn't require that you be dark and brooding too, though getting into the mindset of one who is dark and brooding isn't all that hard as long as you know why.

    Regardless of how you get into the mindset, what will matter is your writing quality.
     
  13. Empyrean
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    Empyrean Member

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    Personally, I'd rather write in a more lucid state of mind. I'm not the type of writer who pounds words on the page, clocking in at one-thousand words an hour, and turning around to revise it about ten times. I'd rather go slow, walk away, and come back for revision a few days later.
     
  14. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I do exactly the same thing. When I'm focused, I usually write with my eyes closed. I don't often feel emotional when I'm writing, and when I do, I calm myself. I need to be clear-headed to accurately portray each of the very different characters who make up my stories.

    The emotional approach probably lends itself better to first person writing, which I've never bothered to try.
     

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