1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Writing and Emotions

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Aug 30, 2011.

    Do you think your writing improves or is affected in any other way by intense emotional states? Examples would include depression, immense anger(not rage), or even something like apathy? I ask this because some of the best writers in history had... problems, (my favorite example being Edgar Allan Poe, who has a life that would make the average horror story look tame by comparison at times,) and also from my own experiences.
    The latter is some of my best writing, when it comes to voice and prolificness, occurred at rather... rough times. Example is probably the first time I got to 10,000 words, all written in a voice that shone through. Now, I'll be fair, stylistically it has huge problems, but the writing flowed like smooth butter. But now? Writing it is like trying to force my way through a concrete wall. Another example is my first poem, which was quite scary territory at the time.
    So, you have experiences like that? Very curious about this.
     
  2. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    There are links between depression (and other mental illness) and creativity. It's probably not that being depressed makes a person a good writer, though. Quite the contrary. More like the traits that lead to depression--like profound introspection, hyper empathy and stuff like that--lead to being creative as well.

    But no, having mental health issues won't make someone a better writer. It's more like a side effect of the type of personality that lends itself to creativity, not a cause.

    I've seen more writers sunk because of mental health or emotional issues than I've seen helped. The key is to find a healthy balance and control over oneself, while not extinguishing the traits that make one creative, and understanding the risks of the lifestyle.

    The good writers aren't the ones afflicted with mental health issues, but the ones that survive despite them. It's easy to look at writers with problems and make it seem like part of doing business or even a thing to be glorified... but image all the people in the world that had the potential to be great writers (or great artists of any kind), and couldn't survive themselves long enough to see their potential realized.

    And, that said, several of the best writers (like published, award winning, etc) are completely, almost boringly well adjusted and healthy. It's not that they don't have the dark thoughts or introspective characters. It's that they do, but also know to seek balance and stay healthy, and aren't overcome by the self-destructive tenancies that often come with being creative.

    If you're having issues emotionally or with mental health, don't glorify it or excuse it. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's what fuels your creativity (again, it's a side effect, not a cause). Writers who don't take care of themselves often don't live long enough or healthy enough to see their goals actualized.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first piece I wrote that I finished and was proud of - it was written well and it was a good story (from what I'm told by others as well as my own good opinion) - was started when I was really pissed off.

    Of course emotion is going to affect your writing. There are two kinds of extreme anger for me. The extreme anger where I can focus on writing well, and the extreme anger where I can't focus on anything except calming myself.

    The same goes for any strenuous emotion.
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    I agree that it is partially conquering these experiences, and also that it doesn't in of itself improve creativity in of itself. HOWEVER, I must go back to Edgar Allan Poe. He didn't beat his demons, not in the end really. Also, he wrote probably his most famous poem while his wife was dying of Tubercolusis. If that doesn't paralyze someone with depression, I don't know what would. Of course he powered through it, but it wasn't just the powering through that had the effect, it was also the bearing down of it.
    True, many people are defeated, if you will, by their issues. However, I don't think it's the conquering of these issues alone that improved them, but rather the experiences themselves. Writing is about having something to say, theme wise. Experiences and emotions give that. When they say write what you know, they don't mean that literally, but rather about the emotional, and other parts of the mental states one has experienced.
    Just my two cents though.
    BUT! This is isn't even mentioning art therapy, which is perhaps means the art is the way through they powered through.
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a very good way to take your mind off things and to do something powerful, all the while because you're channelling your emotions it is a powerful way of exploring your issues and working through them.

    I personally find it harder to write when I'm angry or sad because I'm too self-aware even in moments where I should be floored by my feelings. There's always a part of me hanging around to the side saying, "Seriously?".. It's why I tend to laugh when I'm in a bad situation, which *never* improves things... >_<

    I just end up twitchy and nervous and distracted and I can't concentrate, and part of me is far more critical than normal pointing out I'd just write some emotional drivel which only I would be interested in reading, etc etc. Angry letters to people and poems which are meant to probe deeply.

    Besides, I'm generally a cheery person, all my horrible life experiences of the last couple of years aside, so it's not like I suffer the bad feelings regularly, making them more of an experience than something I have to suffer through so long-term that if I didn't I'd never write.

    Actually, maybe I am just really air-headed and lacking a decent second layer so it's impossible for me to reach a depth of feeling with my writing. :p Hee hee.
     
  6. riridoll1
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    riridoll1 New Member

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    Writing is an expression of the voice within each of us. If one is depressed, angry etc. it may show clearly in the writing. Rather than aim to be depressed or angry which is (as stated above) "unhealthy" it can sometimes be helpful to create an alter ego for yourself and tap into that when you are writing. Learn how to turn it on and turn it off. Get to that dark place and write your heart out but snap right back when you are finished. I know it sounds crazy but if you can pull it off you can achieve the voice you are seeking.
     
  7. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    I agree with Popsicldeath, that mental health issues may sometimes accompany a creative personality.

    I would even go so far as to say that being creative ,throughout history, causes mental problems. I mean, who understands you? And also, you are often going to be under-appreciated for your contributions, (like Vincent Van Gogh). You might even get regarded with great suspicion (like William Blake). Some people might treat you as if you are some gifted messiah one moment, then when you fall out of favor you become the crap in the gutter. Who wouldn't have mental problems after all that?

    I'm oversimplifying, but creative professions have often been difficult to occupy, historically.

    But really, that's just a sliver of my thoughts about this issue. Creative activities, like art and writing, are very much like meditation. Ultimately, I think that the best writers and artists are the ones who enjoy it the most--perhaps because they need it to function properly, or maybe because they just enjoy it. That's how people get good at most things--enjoying them and then practicing them.
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    In general I wouldn't think extreme emotions would help people write, but what they might do is give a writer insight into experiences others could not have. With Poe I've often felt he wrote his nightmares, they often have that sort of seductive, slightly unreal and yet terrifying quality to them of dreams that you can't wake up from.

    Cheers.
     

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