Improve Your Writing Using Feelings and Emotions
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
There is power in the written word. Taking a combination of verbs, nouns, adjective and adverbs, the writer has the ability to lift up the reader, to suspend life for a moment and entertain. We have it within our power to bring our readers to incredible highs and lows. We can elicit belly laughs and we can bring forth tears that have been suppressed for decades.
Words can be either a compilation of letters or they can be the catalyst for self-reflection. They can be random drivel or they can be the light that ignites a world movement. This form of communication can be informative or inflammatory, insightful or a joyful celebration of the human spirit.
Given the unlimited possibilities that are within each writer, what a shame it would be to not tap into a fountain of inspiration that we each possess, namely our emotions.
Writing Reflects Real Life
Does it not? If so, what is more real than the emotions we each have? Our emotions, and the life experiences that each of us have, are all too often ignored, and in their place we find sterile writing that reminds one of Wikipedia on its best days.
As a life-long reader, I can say without hesitation that the authors who have moved me the most were the ones who were willing to draw upon their emotions and share them with me. Through their words I found a kinship with the author, and through their words I was able to get in touch with my own thoughts and emotions and thus gain a better understanding of myself.
I have had readers tell me that I am courageous in writing about my struggles with alcoholism. They have told me they found inspiration in my willingness to share those trials and tribulations that shaped me as a human being. Mind you, these are writers telling me this. I would say to all of you that it is not courage that leads me to share my emotions with you. Rather, it is my desire to be a writer in the truest sense of the word that has led me down this path and allowed me to find my voice as a writer. I came to a realization a little over a year ago that my experiences, and the emotions that were associated with those experiences, carried important messages about life, and they were messages that could help others as they traveled similar paths. In other words, my translation of emotions into the written word was beneficial to others and isn’t that a miraculous and beautiful thing?
It Is Not Enough to Say That You Cried
What are common emotions? Happiness, sadness, loneliness and on and on, but written like that they are only words. A writer’s job is to make those words come alive so that the reader feels the same emotions. How can I relate an experience so that my reader feels the pain I felt when that experience happened? Of course I can say that when my father died it made me sad and I cried, and some may find enough in that bland description to relate to it and feel their own emotions over the loss of a loved one.
However, I could also write that a numbness spread over me, and in the following days I sank into a darkness I had never known before and have not known since. When my dad died I lost my foundation, and I felt as though I were standing in quicksand with no hope of ever climbing out. The tears did not come for months and then they rushed forward in such a torrent that I thought I was approaching madness.
Of alcoholism I could tell you that I drank and felt helpless and hopeless, or I could tell you that I lost all sense of self. I sank into a well of self-pity, shut off from a world that was celebrating all around me and yet was untouchable. I shattered lives, including my own, and I wanted to find a way to ease the pain, even if it meant death.
Which is more effective? The milquetoast description, PG-rated for all audiences, or the one that reaches into your heart and soul and rips your guts out?
We All Have It in Us
I happen to believe that we are all fascinating creatures, and that each one of us has experienced an emotional journey that most people can relate to. The only thing holding you back from tapping into the emotions of your readers is your lack of willingness to share.
Let’s face it, it is a risk pouring your emotions out and becoming, in a sense, vulnerable. On the other hand, it is a supreme act of humanness to do so, for in expressing our emotions we are telling our readers that we understand them as human beings and that they are not alone in feeling what they feel.
I had a fellow author tell me that nobody would want to know what it felt like for her to be abused as a child. Are you kidding me? There are literally millions of abused children in the United States at this very moment. Don’t you think there is a good chance one of them needs to hear that others feel as they do? And if just one needs to hear it then it is worth writing.
Were these suggestions helpful?
It Is Time
If you want to realize the potential that is within you, then it is time to toss aside the bland and embrace the vibrant colors of your emotions. I am convinced that you will never truly find your writer’s voice until you tap into those emotions. They are, after all, an important part of who you are as a human being and as a writer, so why not use them? I want to know who you are, but I never will if you are not willing to open up and share. Make that connection with your reader. Establish that bond. You just might open doors that you never knew existed.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)