August 27, 2013 by Renee
I’ve read countless blogs, articles, and discussions where writers go on and on about how they suffer for their art. They rant, weep and whine over how shitty their lives are, and gleefully exclaim how wonderful it is to have such a shitty life, because they can put that pain into their writing. They don’t say this exactly, but the message is there. For some reason we feel like the more misery we experience, the better writers we’ll be as a result.
Get a fucking grip if you believe any of that shit.
Writing believable stories and three-dimensional characters is about more than pain. It’s about more than sadness, misfortune, anger and whatever other negative emotion you’re currently wallowing in so that you can really shove that shit up the reader’s ass. While it’s true, we’re more expressive sometimes when we’re emotional; this is not what makes good writing. Good writing can only come from time, practice, and one very important thing:
Good and bad, experiences are what allow us to write any character in any situation. But it’s not just about doing this or that or going here and there. It’s truly living life. It’s trying to understand the experiences of others. It’s watching the news, no matter how awful it is (and I have to force myself to do this because the media sickens me), and trying to get inside the minds of the folks featured or trying to put yourself into the events described. It’s putting yourself in another’s shoes, particularly the shoes that feel too tight or swallow you whole with their massive size. It’s about feeling joy right down to the tiniest cells in your body. It’s smiling, laughing, crying, screaming; all of it.
You can feel all you want, but until you dissect the emotions and understand the motivations behind actions and the cause and effect of every reaction, you can’t write better. You can’t make the reader feel those emotions.
And why would you only want to make her feel the negative so intensely? What if you could make her laugh so hard her sides hurt? What if you could bring a smile to her face even if she’s having a fucktastic day? Do you realize how priceless it is to find a ray of light when you’re smothering in darkness?
Be the writer that brings it all to the table. Make your reader run the gambit of emotions. Force her to examine every facet of your characters; the good as well as the bad and the ugly. But more importantly, force yourself to do the same and stop being such a drama queen.