Writing Tip #7: Projecting Emotion

You’re a writer.  You’re also a human being.  A human being with emotions and feelings that can be valuable tools when it comes to your writing.  Gauging your writing by how you feel while writing something is an important aspect of the writing process, and one that can help you connect on a deeper level with your readers.

You are your first audience for your work.  The ideas are in your head, coming together, piece by piece, until you write or type them out for your eyes to see as words on the page or screen.  And you just stare blankly at them.  Words.  Sigh. What you wrote doesn’t excite you or energize you.  It’s just boring words.

Think about how a reader would feel reading that dull string of words that even you didn’t feel excited about.

This is the last thing you want.

When I write, I want to find myself smiling or laughing as I write comedy.  I want to feel my pulse racing as I write an intense action sequence. I want to feel tears in my eyes if I’m writing an emotionally heavy scene.  I want to feel something, because if I don’t, how can I expect my readers to feel anything?

There a lots of these moments in my novel, The Field.  Moments where I would be in the middle of typing and get so emotionally invested that I would have to walk a lap around my apartment, collect myself, then come back to the keyboard.  There were sequences where that’s all I wrote that day because it was too intense for me to keep writing after I had hit the final period. 

These are the moments in in your writing that matter.  The ones that give your reader a visceral reaction to what they are reading or seeing on the stage or screen.  You have the power through your words to give the reader or viewer what they deserve: a rollercoaster ride of emotions and feelings.

It all starts with you.

If you’re not laughing at the jokes you’re writing, then an audience will likely react the same way. If you write an action-packed sequence and you don’t have any adrenaline pumping through you as you write it, the reader or audience may yawn their way through.  Because if you don’t care, why should the audience?

Another way to check the effectiveness of injecting emotion into your writing is to go back to a sequence you wrote long ago and see if it triggers similar feelings inside from the first time you wrote it.  If it does, then you have created an emotionally impactful scene, sequence, or chapter. And hopefully those emotional beats will resonate with readers as they experience your story.

Remember, creative writing is not an essay or an instruction manual.  It should be an emotional experience for the reader that starts with you, the writer.