With so many careers and professions to choose from in the world today, why do we write? Why do we lock ourselves away, tapping at the keyboard or putting pen to paper? Will anyone read what we put down? Will they care we poured our heart and soul into the story they now hold in their hands? Are we deluding ourselves, letting life pass by as we churn out another essay or short story?
Maybe there’s a strange wiring in our brain that keeps us writing. I know when I stop for any length of time, I begin to feel uncomfortable and on edge. Is writing addictive? Do we need an intervention to save us from ourselves? Are these creative urges a sign of madness? The biggest question of all, do we really want to stop what we are doing? Some scientists believe creative people walk a thin line between sanity and madness. Maybe we do, but we can’t help how our brains are wired.
I think part of the reason I write is to release pent up emotions that I refuse to express verbally. I tend to lock things away until they reach the breaking point, then end up throwing things. Preferably things that break. Writing allows me to safely express what I’m feeling without putting holes in the wall or cleaning up broken glass. The emotions I kept inside can be released in a scene in a story, or heated dialogue between two characters.
I used to write everything longhand, pen to paper; the pen being the conduit of my thoughts and feelings to the blank sheet of paper in the notebook. Now I type most everything I write, and the sound of the my fingers hitting the keyboards is most satisfying. Slow and steady when I’m thoughtful, rapid when I’m setting down an emotional piece.
Through writing, I can experience things I would never dare in real life or am unable to experience. I allow myself to live through my characters; maybe they have to defeat the evil dragon, rescue a group of children trapped in a mine, or stop the zombie hordes from invading our neighborhood. I lend those characters my emotions, to bring them to life on the page so others can feel the same.
I have a bad back and a neck that tends to pull my head back so I end up staring at the ceiling or sky. I suffer from panic attacks when I ride in a vehicle, and I suffer from depression With these problems, I can pass on my pain and frustration to my characters, instead of railing against the unfairness of it all. Writing gives me a sense of relief, allowing me to calm down and think more clearly about things. Of course, there are some things that stay with you for a long time, something you can tap into for your writing. Anger and grief are two emotions that tend to linger long after the instance that caused them.
Don’t be afraid to tap into your emotions; grief at the death of a parent or a beloved furry child. Anger at a sister who thinks you should move to a homeless shelter, which would mean giving up your cats. Anger at a parent for getting a disease like Alzheimer’s, leaving you to constantly wonder if you are next. Anything you experience or feel is fuel for your writing.
Love is another strong emotion you should let through in your writing. Perhaps you let the best man/woman in your life get away, because you were too afraid to tell them how you felt. Maybe you feared being rejected by them if you said anything. Use that in your writing to add emotional conflict to a character. Remember, your characters need to be real to the reader, so give them emotions, problems, and internal conflicts. When you do, however, make sure it fits into the story you are writing.
When we write, we want the reader to say, “Yeah! I understand exactly what she’s going through! It’s like the author looked inside me and knew what I was feeling!”
Don’t be afraid to express yourself on paper or the computer screen. Put those feelings to good use, instead of paying to have a wall repaired, or buying new plates or glasses.
May the words ever flow!