Do You Let Your Emotions Rule Your Writing?

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William Wordsworth said that all good poetry is the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…recollected in tranquility.” I would go a step further and say that this is true of all good writing in general, maybe all good art.

For many people, the inspiration for a poem, a story, a song, a play, etc. usually comes from powerful emotions. However, when you’re going through these types of powerful emotions, it can be very difficult to write. Have you ever written an e-mail to someone when you were really mad at them? Did it end up sounding something like this? “YOU ARE SO STUPID AND ALL CAPS AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS BECAUSE I SAID SO!” On the other hand, have you ever been really mad at someone, written down your emotions in your journal, taken a few deep breaths and waited a day or two, and then calmly and logically expressed why you were upset to this person? I don’t know about you, but for me, the second way of handling things is always way more effective.

Writing is the same way. I’m not saying don’t write when you’re feeling overly emotional or overly creative. Definitely write. Write in your journal. Scribble down ideas. Do whatever you can to express yourself. But wait until you’re ready to “recollect in tranquility” to really craft that poem, that story, that play, etc. Otherwise, it may just end up sounding like crying on a page.

I remember a drama teacher once told me not to use acting as therapy. I think writing is the same way. There’s nothing wrong with journaling or writing strictly for therapeutic purposes, but I think if you’re writing a story, a poem, etc., you have to be objective enough to change things based on what’s good for the story, not based on how you are feeling. There have been times when I’ve written a song in order to say something to someone and I didn’t want to change a line of my lyrics because it was what I wanted to communicate with that person. Maybe the change in lyrics would have been better for the song, but I was too attached to my emotions surrounding it. What I should have done was pick up the phone and call that person and not use songwriting as a way of communication.

Do you ever let your emotions take over the things you are writing?

2 thoughts on “Do You Let Your Emotions Rule Your Writing?

  1. I try not to let my emotions as the writer rule my writing. It’s not about my emotions, it’s about the characters’ emotions. If I am in the throes of anger then it is best for me not to write because every word would act as extension of that anger and would sound strange if that particular emotion didn’t fit the character or their storyline. If you want a way to release your emotions leave your creative writing alone and buy a diary. Great post!

    • “If you want a way to release your emotions leave your creative writing alone and buy a diary.”

      Exactly!

      I think I have the ability to be so productive with my creative writing because I do journal and I have done so (pretty much obsessively) ever since I learned how to write! So I don’t really need to use poetry, novels, plays, etc. for processing because I get it all out in my journals. (Not that I haven’t been guilty of doing that from time to time, though, especially when I was younger.)

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