Emotional Release and Writing

I think it’s important to come to writing invested emotionally, but not so distraught or distracted that you cannot come to the work. Sometimes real life intrudes, and I wouldn’t say that it ruins the experience, but it can foul up your mind until what you’re producing is subpar and not worthy of you. Or, as I mentioned before, you have characters acting out of their realm of normalcy without the situation dictating this change.

I tend to bottle up my emotions. I’ve always done it; I don’t know if it’s because I’m a guy and there is that life-long pressure to hold it all in, or if I’m just that way. Nature or nurture, it’s a fact. Whatever the reason, I tend to bottle it up until it explodes outward or I end up stupidly emotional over the dumbest, smallest things and choking it all back. I have heard that it’s a Taurus trait. This distracts me. I can’t have any emotional experiences or run the risk of overreacting and acting like a damn fool. When writing, it gets in the way of what I’m doing.

An emotionally touching scene? Ruined by the irrational anger I’m feeling because I dropped something on the carpet. Something sad and poignant? Thwarted by my unreasonable amusement at reading a line in Let the Right One In about someone being so boring that he makes the clocks stop. A funny quip? Annihilated by my brooding over some highly sensitive interaction with a total stranger. All stupid, all over dramatic.

Luckily, it doesn’t happen often and I’ve gotten better at expressing the emotions to let off the emotional steam before it gets in the way. I was not successful at doing this recently. I noticed that I was becoming overly emotional every time I would write a scene or read part of a book or playing a video game. Annoying. So, what I did was pop in a sad and touching movie, Still Alice, and let myself react to what was happening onscreen.

Have you seen this movie? Watch it and see Julianne Moore earn her deserved Oscar. Some people can watch it and not get involved or try to point out the flaws rather than get the message of some real, true tragedy — even if this actual movie didn’t happen to actual people, Alzheimer’s is alive and well and hurts so many people. I allowed myself get caught up in the movie and I must have cried or been on the verge of it for 40%-50% of the movie. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it affected me. Afterwards I watched the live action Cinderella, which was cute and romantic and featured a gorgeous Cate Blanchett playing a horrible bitch.

That combination of movies allowed me to release the sorrow, laughter, fright (did you SEE the Fairy Godmother’s teeth?), and hope I needed to expiate. Afterwards, I decided to take out my notebook and jot down a few notes for my current writing project. An hour and a half later, hand sore, I had blown through the blocks and barriers I mentioned before and had pages of notes.

Sometimes to progress, we need to listen to what our bodies and minds are telling us. That’s not to say that writing and other artistic endeavors can’t be used as therapy — I would never suggest something so blasphemous. You need to feel and toil and care with your characters or other creations. Art is therapy. It is often the framework on which life is held. Artistry without emotion is dead.

Sometimes, though, we get caught up in everything and it interferes with the immediacy of our creations and aspirations. Sometimes we need to watch a sad movie and cry it out.

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~ by Darren Endymion on February 15, 2016.

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