Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing Winter on a Summer Day

So today I am getting back to my writing. My wip is at a fun point with lots of action, and it will be nice to step into those shoes for a while. 

I remember reading some good advice about painting that I think could apply to writing. Maybe you've heard it before... 

On a blazing hot summer day, an art teacher told his class to paint a snowy winter scene. When the students complained that they couldn't get in a wintery mood on such a hot day, the teacher told them that if they were ever going to be working artists, they must learn to channel their past emotions into current projects. By seeking out their own inner inspiration, rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, they would always find a way to create. After all, if an artist mastered a winter scene during the summer, imagine how effortless it would be to paint a winter scene during the winter.

Applying this to my writing, I  tend to take on my characters' moods and feelings, not the other way around. If I'm feeling angry, I don't need to write an angry scene. I write whatever comes next in my story, and bring out from myself the emotions my characters need. I find that almost right away, I am writing not as myself at all, but as my character. It's incredible and thrilling, and sometimes I don't even know it's happening until I'm interrupted for some reason. I don't need to be in the same mood as my character, because it feels like I've become my character... moods and all. I'm sure other writers can relate. For me, becoming my characters is one of the many reasons why I love and adore writing. 

What about you? Obviously it's easier to write a sad scene if you're already sad, but can you overcome it and write what needs to be written? Even if it's a joyous wedding scene or a powerful first kiss? Is it problematic if the way you feel doesn't match your characters' emotions?


  1. I don't think I quite reach that level with my characters or I haven't for a long time. I'm trying to write from the POV of a ten year old girl right now and it's hard, but I think I'm making some progress. Thanks for you post Diana. I need to paint the winter on a summers day or vice versa actually.

  2. This is a great post, Diana! Like you, I generally try to take on my character's mood and let myself feel what they're feeling at whatever point in the story I've reached. It's an exciting process, really.

  3. My characters are much more deep than I am. Usually it's THEM making me happy, sad, scared, or whatever else they're feeling. They are the ones with everything at stake and while I love creating them and their world, I'm not sure I could ever live their lives. I'd have an emotional breakdown. lol.

  4. Mary- Writing from a ten year old POV sounds hard, but you can do it :)

    MM (Sesquip)- Aw thanks. I think we have a similar writing process :)

    Karen- That's exactly how I feel! My characters make me feel whatever they are feeling too :)

  5. Usually I can write what needs to be written, but not if my own mood is the over-the-top variety instead of the steady manageable kind. Great post.

  6. Wow. I missed a post by you. I was just coming to harass you into posting in a nice polite but naggy way.

    Sometimes I reread and rewrite happy scenes to improve my mood. We'll see how I do at writing tonight when my mood--isn't so great.

    Man... I'm so tired of being rejected.

  7. Angie- Completely agreed. Sometimes my emotions are too strong too.

    Wendy- And you're sick. And T is hurt. :( You remind me of Tom today, in that episode of Tom and Jerry where they're at the construction site and Tom keeps getting slammed and smashed by that giant pounding thing. Poor, squashed, crab-like Tom. I've had Tom days too.

  8. Tom is always getting smashed and squashed. You'd think he'd learn... or maybe he just really wanted Jerry that bad. Perhaps we should all be like Tom and get up again after we've been squashed again and again--to pursue our dreams of a tiny morsel hardly worth getting squashed over.

    No, I just really think Tom had been brain-damaged beyond recognizing when it was time to give up. Honestly, Jerry wouldn't have staved off starvation for very long. It's unfortunate that, as we all know, cats are carnivores--otherwise Tom could have gone vegetarian and been a lot happier.

    Speaking of which--it's time for frosting or pudding topped with whipped cream. See--Tom may not know when eating actual food is the answer, but I do. HAH!

    Seriously, there had to be dumber and slower mice around. He was just a sick over-achiever.