1. MouseMonsanta
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    MouseMonsanta New Member

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    How do you write happy/empowered scenes when your life is in the toilet?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MouseMonsanta, Sep 10, 2016.

    I'm writing a story with a coming out of the darkness sort of theme. The trouble is nowadays my life has been going in the opposite sort of direction. I know that's a manner of perspective and a self fulfilling prophecy and whatnot, but its the way I feel and its going to take much work to get out of it.

    I accept all of that nonsense, yin and yang and whatnot, but my mind can be a bit of a prick. It has me completely convinced that writing this novel either is, or is a huge part of my life's mission, and that I would be a failure if I didn't at least try with 100% of my will to do so. No combination of drugs or therapy can dismantle this mental construct. I wouldn't want it to, I consider it to be useful.

    But my predicament is this: I can channel my inner victim with great ease, all of the nasty, self-deprecating and bleak scenes flow pretty naturally. I could probably go on with it damn near forever. Without the other parts I have no story, the plot will be totally stagnant.

    I'm not even going for sunshine and rainbows here, but a large part of my story depends on the protagonist becoming empowered, though not necessarily in the healthiest of ways. (Think Fight Club/American Beauty). It also depends on a few moments of total (illusory) ecstasy. I'm finding it most difficult to put myself into that sort of headspace and write anything realistic of that nature. Is there some weird kind of hypnosis I can go under to put me there? How do you write about happiness when you're sad? Power when you feel totally weak?

    Cheers :superagree:
     
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  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe Google "happiest songs" or something like that?
     
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  3. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I don't know why you would need drugs or therapy for having writer goals. That seems like just an odd thing to state. All that aside, if you are in it for the long haul, which it sounds like you are, you're going to have to find ways to write things that don't always match up with your current frame of mind. Take all the real stuff getting you down out of the equation. You are writing fiction and your personal story means very little to that story. There's no easy answer. You just have to push yourself and tell yourself you can do this. With practice, I think this becomes easier. If not, you might have to just write darker stuff. That can work too.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This is probably going to sound very simple ...but in essence, it is simple. You use your imagination.

    Unless you're writing non-fiction, imagination is what fuels writing. If you're dependent upon reality to furnish you with everything, you will be stuck writing only what you see and feel. Transcend the present, and imagine things differently. If you're writing a character who feels depressed or useless or a failure (or whatever the problem this character has) then use your imagination. What would make this character's life turn around? What does this character lack? Give him what he lacks. Or give him the possibility of getting what he lacks. Does he lack love? Give him somebody to love. Heck, give him somebody who loves him back. What would that be like and what would it lead to?

    The thing about writing is, unlike most other things in life, YOU have TOTAL control over circumstances. You can make anything happen that you want. While this doesn't necessarily lead to happy-clappy silly stories, this does give you a great deal of material to work with. Maybe what you think would make you happy actually won't. Explore that. Maybe what you need is somebody to share your views on things. Maybe this person will be the last person you expect.

    This does not depend IN ANY WAY on what you feel about yourself in real life. You are creating somebody else when you write a character. You are god. You can do anything with, or for, that character that you want. So pretend. But follow through on what you pretend. If this person is happy-clappy, what then? What do other people think of him? Does he annoy folks? How does he cope when bad stuff happens (which it does to everybody, eventually.) Nothing lasts forever, so work with that.

    If your character lacks power, give them power. I don't mean like Superman, I mean just let them succeed at something. Success gives you power, but it also gives you confidence. But it also creates a vacuum. What do you do next? Do you need to work to maintain what you've accomplished? Is it possible to lose it all? Does daily life lose its savour, once you've done what you set out to do? All these things can be story-worthy subjects.

    The notion of 'ecstasy' is a bit strange, really. Why? Because it's not people's normal state of mind. The best you can hope for in life is moments of ecstasy, but they stand out because most of the time you're either contented, discontented, enjoying something, looking forward to something, dreading something, bored, excited, sad, delighted, intrigued, feeling ignored, stressed, irritable, busy, resting, worrying, daydreaming, interacting with people whom you like, whom you don't like, whom you love, whom you dislike, caring for somebody who needs help, being helped by somebody who cares for you, learning, exercising, producing, creating, consuming. Ecstasy doesn't come into life very often—and if it did, you'd begin to feel quite unstable.

    To start with, work on defining ecstasy. What exactly is it? Look it up in the dictionary and think about the definition. Perhaps, because you aren't terribly happy yourself, you think of everybody else as experience more 'ecstasy' than you do. Perhaps you're wrong. I suspect many people may be on a more even keel, especially if they don't suffer from clinical depression, but that doesn't mean they're floating around on clouds either. Maybe they just don't get dragged down into depths as often as you feel you do.

    Just create a character and put him or her through the life events your story contains, and imagine how they feel in each one. This is not dependent on how you feel at any given time. This is where you take control, and imagine what another person feels instead.

    In essence, this is what writers do. Unless they're writing an autobiography, if they're writing fiction they are making things up. They do research, put themselves in other people's shoes, and write from perspectives that are not their own.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well writing power is easy, and kinda fun and exciting (the lesser fun parts are kind of a drag).
    I am always depressed because lonely and isolated, so I have to tell myself that it is worth slogging
    through even though I feel alone and absolutely F--king miserable.

    Try happy mellow music (without lyrics would be best)
    Or try ASMR Vids with positive messages, and on.
    Or find things that make you laugh (it really helps a lot).

    So don't just give up on something because its hard (unless it's math then screw it). :p
    Try to get through the hard times and write what you want to, not what you think
    you cannot. Once you stop trying don't take that as an option. Giving up is for those
    that failed to try, no matter how hard it seems stick with it and you will get there
    it just takes time.

    Remember: Rome wasn't built in a day.
    Take it in steps until you get to writing the happy bits, and you will feel like you are
    writing what you want. Not stuck being a sad sap.

    Good luck and cheer up. :supersmile:
     
  6. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    If you were to wake one morning and realise your depression had lifted, what would be the first thing you would notice?
     
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  7. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Don't try to write "happy" if it doesn't suit you. I think that when the plot point arrives it will manifest on its own. Maybe not. So don't write it. But I have to ask. Where was anything happy in fight club? What do you mean when you say happy? I'm too depressed to understand. :p

    But I kind (only kind of) grasp of what you are speaking of. I was trying to write a cold winter scenery in the summertime, while I was dripping sweat. It didn't go too well. Difficult to focus.
     
  8. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    For me as a writer it's just easier because I write from myself. My own views of darkness and sadness, when you need to numb all the pain and just stand up for your friends, but with all that "dark" I still see so much beauty and empowerment in protecting and helping my friends reach their own happiness, which is something I like to through into my own stories. Moments when the character does something solely because they want to keep others safe and don't care about their own well being.

    I don't know if it helps but it's just how it comes to me.
     
  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You knew the answer all along, didn't you?
     
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  10. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    When you're down in the dumps something has to pull you out of that. A snow day, your favorite song comes on the radio inspiring you, finding a peanut with three chambers or running into your soul mate at the least likely of places...like the line at your local Taco Bell.

    To make a story interesting you need to convince your reader that your character deserves to be happy. So I think making your character go through as miserable experience is equally as important. I think after I beat my characters down my human compassion comes out and wants them to be redeemed and rise above the suffering.
     
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  11. MouseMonsanta
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    MouseMonsanta New Member

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    Thanks, lots of great advice here. This thread may have been superfluous, I just need a kick in the pants from time to time.

    What I was referring to in that instance wasn't exactly what I would call happiness, but rather a newfound passion for life. The Protag spends much of his life being subservient and without direction, and his creation of Tyler is the marking of an awakening of sorts. He stops taking peoples' shit and starts creating his own path, albeit a pretty dark one.

    My story is pretty similar in a lot of ways, I'm not really going for "happy" here, I'm going for a person taking back control over their life, for better or worse. It all goes much deeper than that, but I'm using that sort of archetypal story as a vessel by which to explore other things.
     
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  12. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find that a little wish-fulfillment goes a long way . . . :whistle:
     
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  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've done a lot of writing during times that were extremely difficult - stress of a job, worries about family, health scares. The flotsam and jetsam of daily living. The writing I did during those times ran the gamut from joyful and triumphant to mournful and despairing. And in all that time, I can't recall a single occasion where the events of my life (and the attendant emotions) spilled into the moods of my writing. When I write, that becomes my reality. Maybe that's how I was able to write when all hell was breaking loose all around me.

    But, I was in over 40 when most of this occurred. And I think that ability to block out what one needs to block out, and to put the down times of one's life in perspective, is a skill one acquires with age. I certainly could not have done so in my early 20s. So, my advice is to keep at it. @jannert is 100% right. You get there through your imagination.

    There's a great line from the film "Being Julia": "Your only reality is the theater. Everything else - what civilians call 'the real world' - is meaningless." I think that applies equally to writers.

    Good luck.
     
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  14. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Writing for me is like an escape in the same way as reading a book or watching a movie. When I am sad i don't only watch Sad movies and if I watch happy movies such as a comedy I'm able to laugh at the jokes without thinking about my own life. When it comes to writing if Im not in a good mood I shut it off for a moment and go into my world and write the story. Its hard to explain really. Sometime music helps if I need some inspiration. I know when i was younger I used to write "love stories" knowing nothing about being in an adult relationship so yea it would come off as completely unrealistic. However I hope that you have been happy or empowered once, enough that you can tap into those emotions and experiences to write about it.
     
  15. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for that :D 'theater' .. I could roll around right now :supergrin:Just what I needed to hear! If I could I'd hug you!
     
  16. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    But in answer to the TS:

    @EdFromNY is totally right. This ability to block everything and 'the devil may care' attitude is something one can learn. Don't dwell on all that might go wrong right this minute. Live in the moment and deal with the bad stuff when it comes or when it needs to be dealt with. Seize the moments in between and close the door of your mind after the bad stuff. Keep on it, take one step at a time.

    Writing can be an escape, channel your inner anger and get your MC to find it too, and make something of his/her life despite all of it. Determination is a good thing in a MC who needs to fight back into the light. Granted, this is easier the older your MC is, because then he/she may have some experience in blocking. Keep on it.
     
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  17. Infel
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    Infel Active Member

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    Dunno if it'll work for you, but when I want to write a happy scene, I turn to music. Switch on some really upbeat track you love, turn up the volume, and lay down on your bed. Then just let your mind go. Music always makes its own story in my mind with whatever characters I'm thinking about at the time. Life might blow, but as it was mentioned above, your imagination doesn't have to.

    At the risk of letting my inner nerd out, try "Hopes and Dreams" from the Undertale soundtrack.
     
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  18. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I'm a bit envious of you @EdFromNY with your ability to write emotions a hundred miles away from how you feel. I've written for a while now and think I've gotten worse at getting into my characters' characters. With a prior steadier life, it was a case of close my eyes, imagine the emotional scenario and write. I've discovered of late though my moods do their damnedest have me write within their gamut. I've had a bit of grief come my way this last half a decade (losses and ill offspring) so there's an overarching bias at play for sure. I'm not talking all doom and gloom though; indeed if I'm lifted by say comedy; I'll feel a pull towards wanting to write funny and this would raise the ire of say a character (were they real) who's crying into her wine after her husband's just walked out.

    So, sometimes, because I work to a plot framework there's space to write the scene that fits my feelings. But as I near a story's end there arrives crunch points of difficulty that aren't easy to overcome. The advice @Infel gives works to a degree because the type of music one listens to can invoke a fitting emotion. @MouseMonsanta It's fleeting but dose yourself up on/gee yourself up with elevated beats and go at your scenes a bit at a time.

    Force the comedy down yourself too!
     
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