Riding the Crazy Train to Breakdown Town

…And How to Make it a Productive Trip.

See this girl? Her name is Aly and she is full of crazy.

Yesterday I was in a mood.  I was in a eat-the-entire-box-of-Girl-Scout-cookies, cry-over-old-pictures, listen-to-Matchbox-20-on-repeat, and bury-my-face-in-tissues-while-watching-Pride&Prejudice kind of mood.  Let me clarify that girls are indeed crazy.  We can’t help it.

And while we’re on that topic, writers and creatives in general, also suffer from a crazy streak or two.  Known for suffering from a multitude of illnesses including depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disease, alcoholism and drug addiction, we’re not the most stable of groups.  Philip K. Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, anyone? Of course, some of us are more sane, grounded, and normal than others.

However, as people, we all have our ups and downs.  And as writers, it’s our job to capture those moments.

We write about the state of society, the intricacies of relationships, and about the past, present, and future. We write about our world or others, with happy endings or sad.  Through our writing, no matter the genre, we examine what connects us, what does, or doesn’t, make us human.

And perhaps that is what makes us crazy.  With every new experience and emotion, we remember it, save it.  We relive our anger, embarrassment, and disappointment every time our characters do.

At least, that’s how I am.  When I’m in a less than chipper mood, I sit down and write.  I write what I’m thinking and how I feel.  It doesn’t even have to be part of a story or for a character, but it’s something I can reference and go back to when I do need to write about a darker theme.  After all, even if we all act out differently, we still feel the same emotions.  Although my characters react differently than I would, their actions are still based on familiar emotions.

So, if you’re in a dark place, or in a mood, as I say, use it.  Maybe writing is the only thing you want to do, or maybe it’s the last.  But at least try.  Not only does it act as a release, but you can use it as a starting point for remembering and feeling what your characters should be feeling.

This also applies to happier of times, or hell, even average ones.  What’s important is that our characters have feelings too.  They’re living beings, if only from a two-dimensional world.  And it’s our job to breathe life and feeling into them.

So how do you guys deal with emotional swings, especially if they get in the way of writing?  Have you ever dealt with a character experiencing emotions you’ve never felt?  How did you write about that?


About Aly Hughes
Unprofessional, unedited, unpublished. Aly is out to make a name for herself by blogging, twittering, facebooking, and general internet-ing. Be warned: She may not know what she's talking about.

8 Responses to Riding the Crazy Train to Breakdown Town

  1. I saw a poster today that said (more or less) “If you could take a pill that would erase your worst memories, would you take it?” I assume it was an ad, though I have no idea what for. But anyway, my first thought was that I’ll bet very few writers would sign up for thatdr deal. 🙂

  2. Honestly, I find that it’s easiest to channel those emotional swings into blogging rather than creative writing. Creative writing requires so much emotional investment that I can’t take it during that kind of time, but blogging is far more intellectual and I can handle that no matter the mood (usually).

    • Aly Hughes says:

      Creative writing can be difficult in that mind set. Those writings do tend to need more editing! But, I find that at least writing them in a journal type of entry helps.

      Blogging is what wears me out! I can easily spend hours on one post if it’s an important enough topic!

  3. There is a lot of truth in this. Art is emotion, and creative writing is an art. I have, as I’m sure you do as well, other outlets (i.e. nature walks, rock climbing) for when I’m feeling lesser than sunny, and I think a lot while I engage in these activities. But I never go too far without a pen and a pad of paper.

    • Aly Hughes says:

      Thanks for the comment! It definitely is an art. I love going hiking to clear my head, and I think it definitely helps opening your mind to new ideas as well. Some of my best thoughts happen when walking through parks. Although, I always forget to bring a pen and paper! I really need to start making that a habit!

  4. rtd14 says:

    I heard a woman say that writers go through the “bleeding on paper” stage when they are children or teen writers. She did not say it in a positive light. I thought to myself some of that “blood” needs to stay in a writer as he or she grows as a writer and person. In the past year, I’ve written more nonfiction, mostly for a project for a client. To understand the person/ character–since I haven’t been in his shoes–I interview him. I did the same with my own book last winter. I interviewed some older people from the area near where I center my novel about growing up in the 1920’s and ’30s. That is not for everyone. It is a little bit of what we as writers know, what interests us, and what research. I definately go through mood swings though, and I liked your opening line. Great post!

    • Aly Hughes says:

      I would say I went through a “bleeding on paper” stage, of course my writing started out as typical teenage poetry. We all have to start somewhere, right? 🙂

      That’s interesting working on a nonfiction piece about someone else. I think more writers should get in the habit of interviewing other people. That was a great idea to interview people (both your non fiction client, and elder people for your novel). As important as it is to understand our own emotions and feelings, we should always try to understand other peoples experiences and situations. In fact, I’m planning of doing a post on writing about characters in other classes/gender/races. Should be interesting!

      Thank you for the comment! 🙂

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