Should You Ever Write Angry or Is It Best to Cool Down?
The Dark Muse
Why do we write?
Some of us would say that we have an overwhelming desire to show the world our cleverness with the written word and want to make our small niche in the edifice of time. Others feel a god given need to communicate some thought or feeling they’ve had which is so complex that they want the reader to sit back for a moment to reflect and empathize with them.
I write because I feel I’m insane and it’s the only way to let the demons out of my head to frolic on my screen. It’s a cheap therapy that works for me and in the end it saves time, money, and a multiple homicide conviction.
It’s either that or I go broke buying comic books. You be the judge.
One of the questions that most of my friends ask me is if I prefer to write angry or do I need to be inspired by what I write before I go about writing it. In truth, it depends.
There are times I set down to write an article about zombies or superheroes and I need to collect my thoughts on what I think about that material before I sit down and do the writing. When it comes to writing about recipes or some of the more mundane things in life, it requires a bit of study and meditation.
But for the good stuff… the stuff that is the jalapeno pepper in my Bloody Mary or the fire in my head that comes with a scotch hangover, there is nothing like the free form improvisational writing that flows from my head to my fingertips.
That’s the writing that makes fairies and puppy dogs cry. It’s the writing that can make even the coldest internet surfer see the riptide that is my article, scream, and get his digital surfboard caught on a verbal coral reef of words and slam face first into the cold blackness of my content.
When the dark muse is upon me, it’s a terrible thing.
Do you have any ritual that you use to blow off steam?
When Is It Good to Write Angry?
Somewhere in the back of my head, I’m paraphrasing a scene from the movie Groundhog Day and can hear Bill Murray with Punxsutawney Phil in a runaway car screaming, “Don’t write angry! DON’T WRITE ANGRY!” And then he drives the car over a cliff leaving himself in a burning slag heap of twisted metal.
In some ways, I need to have that voice in my head.
There is a fine line between the glory of angry, inspirational genius which becomes thought provoking copy and the writings of a jabbering madman who has made a marriage proposal to a piece of celery.
Don’t make an engagement with celery, it will break your heart in the end.
A writer must maintain some modicum of control with his feelings and passion. It’s like steam escaping a high pressurized valve. It’s good to let a little steam out of the valve in the right proportion but if you let out too much, all you get is hot air – and if you let out too little, BOOM! No more writer. The danger is letting the anger sit and fester without that release valve. That’s when you start sending out wedding invites from Mister and Misses Celery.
Personally, I enjoy writing like that every so often. It clears the mind and replenishes the soul. You need to let the bad out every so often. In this world today there are screaming idiots that are begging to be ridiculed. Begging! I swear they are. If you fail to release those toxic thoughts blood will flow from your tear ducts as if you had the Ebola virus.
Don’t let blood come from your tear ducts. It’s no good for you.
If you let this bit of darkness out of your mind in the right amounts, you can reach your reader with that fun mixture of humor and edginess.
I started writing this article when I had a vicious sinus headache.
The very light of my laptop’s monitor hurt my eyes. I was on my sixth day of the South Beach Diet (Phase 1) and was going through serious sugar withdrawal. I decided that working from home today was the best move and started my work day. I went on to Facebook and, in the nicest way possible for me at the time, implored my friends to not pull the pin from the grenade by pissing me off.
Writing angry or writing with a hangover is not uncommon.
I remember something that Jimmy Breslin of the New York Daily News had mentioned (I can’t lay my hands on the exact video reference, but I remember him saying it). He mentioned something about the writing of today versus the writing of the 70’s where today’s newspaper offices are full of people working quietly and soberly at word processors. This is not the same as newspaper writing 35 years ago. The world that Breslin wrote in came with a bourbon hangover to give him that bit of edge as he heard the constant noise of ringing phones and clacking typewriters while telex machines were bringing in new stories over the wire. When you are able to write a good piece with that in the background, you can feel the grit. I always liked Jimmy Breslin. He was the reporter that spoke to the man on the street and walked the streets of New York City at a time when reporters assaulted a story to make it bleed for the readers.
Just remember that in his day, there was only white out – no backspace key. Try blogging without hitting that key and see what kind of prose you put out.
Angry writing is like having a loaded gun. You’ve even made the bullets. A gun by itself without a cool head to guide and aim it either lies dead by itself or is used by a raving maniac to kill innocent people. However, if you take careful aim and use it properly in the right context, it can start a race or win a war.
While I’m a huge advocate on writing angry when it’s necessary, I am not a big fan of editing angry. As a matter of fact, the one thing you don’t want to do is write angry, edit angry, and then publish. The ranting voice inside your head will be seeing words that aren’t there or glossing over words that are – and shouldn’t be. It is paramount to wait a beat before editing. A cooler head will gain patience and lose the impulsiveness that will say things you don’t want said.
A cooler head will say, “Whoa! That’s too far.”
It is at that time, you will need to take a sober look as a reader to see if what you’ve written is good prose or babbling nonsense.