Some of you are probably going to judge me for admitting this, but as I was pouring through my daily 500-word goal this morning, something happened: I cried. Not because I hit my word count goal for the month, but because sometimes writing just consumes all of you, even the emotional parts.
I cried through the scene and I cried as I validated my word count to earn this top photo. I probably could have kept going, but it’s Monday and I have a lot more on my to-do list I needed to finish before going back to it. I’ll continue 500 words a day until the end of Camp, because, as you’ve probably guessed by now, I have fallen in love with my book all over again. But I needed a break. I didn’t expect to react to the scene the way I did.
If you’ve experienced intense emotions while writing, you’re not alone, and, good news: you’re normal. You should be glad you’re having such strong reactions to the things happening inside your head and out on the screen in front of you. Here’s why.
If you feel, your readers will feel
Not only do you want your readers to enjoy the experience of reading your work: you want them to react to it. Whether that reaction is good (“Yes! Harry lives!”) or not so good (“HEDWIG!!!!!!!”) it’s still a reaction. Sometimes we write to inform. Sometimes we write to entertain. But no matter the overall, we should always aim to nail a reader right in the heart.
How can you tell if your words will produce a reaction? By evaluating your own. Your emotions can not only fuel your words, but can help you gauge how someone else might feel at the same parts of the story. If a scene is supposed to make someone sad, but you don’t feel sad writing it … make it sadder!
Writing about emotional experiences is good for you, too
We write for ourselves, and in turn we often offer something of value to the people who read what we write. But in a lot of cases, you would still write if no one ever read your work. Wouldn’t you? Even journaling counts (have you cried journaling?). For some of us, writing heals. A positive byproduct just happens to be the act of giving someone else that same opportunity to deal with their own past experiences.
You can use storytelling as a coping mechanism for just about anything, and as you work through those story elements and put your characters through certain hardships (or it can be good things, too), it gets easier to make sense of the things that happened in your own life just by sitting at a computer and thinking of the best way to recount those moments in someone else’s point of view.
A few months back I wrote a post about funerals, and in that post I mentioned how my current book has two separate funeral scenes in it. I told you about how I’d been avoiding those scenes because I wasn’t ready to write them, but that at that point I felt I was finally ready to try.
I finally got to one of them today, and even though it’s not finished, and it’s not completely based on something that actually happened to me, the overall message resonates with me—apparently enough to make me cry while I was just trying to finish a scene and move on.
There are hidden rewards to writing. You’ll find them, as long as you keep going. Even if it requires a box of tissues.
Image courtesy of Camp NaNoWriMo.
A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.