Mood Writing

Before I get this post started, I want apologize for the long hiatus from writing here.  My non-fiction book was due to the publisher this month, so I’ve been focusing on it the past few months.  Rest assured, however, that I’ve been writing fiction when I need a break from the world of baseball collective bargaining agreements.

Now on to the post at hand.  I was reading over something I wrote in one of my manuscripts and thinking about how I felt when I wrote it, which led me to question how our mood bleeds into our writing, or vice versa.

Here’s the passage that inspired this post:

Kate turned to look out her office window.  Early shades of winter were descending upon the city.  Normally it was her least favorite season, but this year it seemed fitting.  The world felt cold and dark already anyway.

I wrote this at a really bleak point in my own life.  I was mourning the death of someone I loved, and I couldn’t imagine feeling a light within myself again for a long time. 

However, it’s two years later now and my days are filled with sunshine and blue skies.  Both literally (thank you early spring!) and figuratively.  I’m in love with a man who has brought me back to life, and it feels fantastic.

I used to enjoy writing about characters who were eluded by love, but now I find it more difficult to get into their heads.  I want to tell them to just hold out a little longer, love is only around the corner. 

Now I enjoy writing about meeting that special someone and falling deeply, madly in love, because that’s where I am in my life.  I go back and read what I wrote during my darker days, and I’m genuinely surprised by some of the things I wrote.  Was I really that sad?

Yes, I was, and it produced some terrific writing.  Can I still be a good writer when I’m happy or are the best writers depressed and reclusive?  Certainly some of the greats fit that bill.

I like to believe that my writing abilities are strong enough to overcome my insane happiness in my real life when it comes time to sit down and write something sad or angry.  When I write about something, I usually channel events in my own life that made me feel that way.  Sometimes I worry that going back to those times will somehow threaten my current state of bliss, somehow poison my emotions.  Isn’t that what we all do though – write from experience?  I think there’s a little piece of us in everything we write, however small.

So, to all you writers out there, I wonder…do you have to be in the same mood as the characters you are writing? Do you draw on your own memories to put yourself inside their heads?

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