Sometimes we all have days. You know. One of those days. The really bad days. Days that make you want to return to “broken” bad habits, destroy worlds, and ugly sob. Days when emotional turmoil collides with unfortunate things at work and tumble into the small things that the people you love let happen. Days when you hit your final straw.
On those days, eating all the ice cream you can find, watching a million cat videos while drinking a bottle of wine, and pretending with all your might that the real world doesn’t really exist for a while seems like the better option. We’ve all been there. The same old trips, why—oh. Um…(Note to self: life is not a musical. Repeat, life is NOT a musical.) It’s true that we all have days like that, days when burning down the walls just to see if it might make the hurt inside go away seems like the better option. But do you know what the real better option is? Writing.
I close the door. I turn off my cell. I turn up music that speaks to my rage. And I write. I write for a page, I write for two. I write for an hour. Slowly, I change the music to something with a little less rage, and I type a little more. While it won’t work every time (really, who doesn’t need a good ugly cry fest every now and again?), I find time and time again writing out my issues helps.
First, it helps me on an emotional level as writing is a kind of therapy. I’ll be honest, that’s sort of why I began writing in the first place. I had diary entries to vent my teenage angst, online posts to share my adventures with others, the spiral bound notebook at my bed side to write down the ideas and things I needed to remember to do that would pop into my head just before sleep which kept me awake for hours if I didn’t write them down. There are dozens of letters I’ve written to people who have angered me. They will never see these letters.
Personal journals are the first time some people have ever willing and in their own time dealt with creative, uninhibited writing. Most everyone who has ever had a diary or journal will agree that expressing what they feel in written words not only helps them understand what they are feeling and why, but by putting words to it, should the need arise, they could communicate those feelings with others (which is a step, I admit, I never quite get to). Externalizing my issues gave, and still gives, my problems a place to live besides running constantly on a hamster wheel in my mind.
The second way I find that writing helps is that now I can look over what is essentially a stream of consciousness within a particular emotion. What I write to myself when I’m alone and emo never sees the light of day. Often, though, I refer back to those rants when I need to feel those intense emotions, when I need to see the word choices I made while I couldn’t think straight for the rage. I use those anger filled entries as fuel to light the emotions of the characters I am writing about. If I can read about my past conflicts and slip into that mind set a bit, it makes the anger of my characters seem to ring a little truer.
It works with all emotions. So I want you to try writing at the end of the best day you’ve ever had and at the end of the saddest day you’ve ever had. Writing your emotions and looking at them later can help you understand and build better emotions within your own characters as well as better articulate the thoughts of your characters when their emotions take over. Writing a character that’s bursting with joy? Anger? Depression? Sympathy? Remorse? Referring back to those days you were also feeling those same emotions that powerfully is gold.
Some days, real life jumps in my way, and I just can’t be bothered to develop characters, set up scenes, and restructure sentences. I have enough thoughts going on in my head on those days. I really don’t need to add the thoughts of all my characters to my internal chaos. Those are the days when, although everything else in the world may seem like the better option, writing is my poison of choice. And if I’m eating ice cream while I do it, no one will ever be the wiser.