A simple search in Google will show you hundreds of articles and blog posts giving you instructions on how to channel your emotions into writing. In fact, you might already know some of the most popular tips. Such is the power and popularity of the Tortured Artist stereotype–the romanticized idea that mental health issues help you write better.
But every myth and every stereotype comes from a moment of truth. What can possibly be true in people imagining that pain is somehow a booster of talent?
As I close my eyes, I am clueless. What is it that I really want to say here? I am lost. All the ideas that I collected in my brain are honestly just scattered everywhere.
How do I say everything that’s on my mind? I have no idea.
But then I stop thinking about the ‘how’ and shift my mind to the ‘why’. Why is it important that I say this? The answer is both a heavier and a lighter weight on my chest. As emotions fill me up to the brim, there comes this determination. I know what I want to say and why. The ‘how’ will come on its own in due time.
Writing with Heart
For starters, emotions do help you get a better idea of what you want to say- be it to yourself or anyone else. Being in touch with your inner self always helps us convey thoughts better in any medium. It helps you speak from the heart instead of just simply conveying the words for an idea. It adds that small personal touch to your work that makes the audience connect even more to everything that is said.
Writing with your heart helps you personally as well. This is where the idea of writing as a cathartic tool appears into our lives. Channelling your emotions to do something creative is often a healthy way to embrace your thoughts and feelings.
Psychology calls this process sublimation–a defense mechanism through which we project our emotions of something in particular to a more productive setting. Almost like killing two birds with one stone. On one hand, you get to deal with your emotions, and on the other, something beautiful comes out of it.
Does what we write necessarily have to reflect our emotions? Not at all! While there are some writers that write about their pain in the same dark tone that they experience everyday, some people use this as a means to focus on the bright side of things. They write to help them see what is good in a circle of bad.
Most of us may know the renowned children’s author Roald Dahl who wrote wonderful stories that filled us with wonder that only a child could muster up. But did you know that his own life was not as light as the children’s books that he wrote? In fact, the stories he wrote for his older audience seem to reflect the tone of his life more aptly.
“I relate to not wanting to write about yourself. Nothing bores me more than me.”
–Mark Peters, Finding the Humour in Sadness (And Monsters)
And it goes the other way as well! Someone who is extremely happy in their life can write stuff that darkens the mood and atmosphere as well. That is the power of creativity. Once you have felt something, it stays with you in the long run. And you can go back and pick it apart when you need to.
So yes, even though the concept is overly romanticized and exaggerated, emotions do help a writer. But what is often left back in the narrative is that EVERY EMOTION HELPS. Life is not always filled with grey skies that either move your heart or make it cold. But it is a colourful rainbow where every writer finds a different pot of gold.
About the Author
Uma Anilkumar is captivated by new, interesting ideas, especially that of pop culture and is always in search of learning something new. A lover of all kinds of art, she is a writer and poet during her free time and dreams of publishing her own work in the future.