Friday, December 14, 2007

Emotional Writing Pros and Cons

The snow makes it feel like Christmas...

The responses to my blogger friend Nancy's question about Christmas stories brought this topic up for me. Because the comments and stories were wide-ranging and passionate. Full of emotion. Emotional writing.

So what are the pros of emotional writing? Writing that comes from the gut, or from the heart, a visceral place, instead of the head?

One, strength from passion. What we care about we can write about. And what we write has immediacy. It possesses the power of our remembrance--emotionally charged writing is redolent with the senses, taste, smell, touch.

And the passion often comes through in the writing, catching the reader in a world of words. In my workshops I suggest to brand new writers that they write about something that truly mattered to them. It never matters how small or large the experience they write about, the writing is riveting.

So, when have you emotionally written? What has been your experience? What has been the result.

Next post, the cons of emotional writing.


Jim Murdoch said...

Many time I have written a poem as a direct emotional response to certain events but what I have noticed is that the closer the writing is to the event in general the poorer the quality of the piece is. I wrote two poems within a day or so of my father's death and neither is especially good whereas the one I wrote a year later is; the one I wrote several years after my mother's death is excellent.

When you're close to the emotion, it's like looking through a microscope; you can see what's going on but in too much detail. After time, once you've moved off a bit, you have a better perspective on the events and how you feel about them. You can focus on what's important.

This is not a hard and fast rule – there have been exceptions – but, in my experience, one needs distance to absorb and process. The resultant poem may seem to have little to do with the events that precipitated it but I don't worry about that as long as what I'm writing is good. There are a good number of poems where the reader will have no idea what inspired the piece, but I know.

To use another optical example, when you look in a mirror you don't always see yourself. It depends how it is angled. Poems are that kind of mirror.

The Muse said...

I really need to start writing from my heart again. I used to write poety all of the time (I even took a stab at a few short stories and a little novel). I would take a blank sheet of notebook paper and just let go on it. I loved the sense of release I got from doing that. I think I need to revisit it.

For what I'm writing now, some of the articles emit a bit of emotion. Perhaps that makes them better? I tend to believe it does. Especially when you take a dry topic and poke in a little emotion or try to give it a bit of personality.

My posts are different. Some have more emotion than others. When I get excited about something I just want to learn more and write about what I'm learning. I also try to put in a little of my own experience if I can.

One day, Conda, I will set out to write more from my emotional side. For now I'm on this mission to learn.

Conda said...

Yes, Jim, some distance really is required for the writing to have enough objectivity. I'll discuss this more in the "cons" entry.

And Muse, yes, emotional writing is usually fiction. Although I've noticed that an article with "personality" i.e. one written where the writer is passionate about the subject, whatever it may be, is often more interesting to the reader.

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