I recently read an article about love inspiring creativity. I think that’s true sometimes, but I also think the opposite is true. Often misery and longing and pain can drive someone to create just as much, if not more, than the warm fuzzy feelings do.
Young and Restless
When I was a teen (read: when I was single), I was full of desire and longing. Not that I was unhappy all the time, but I knew there was so much more out there and all the struggles of adolescence were keeping me from what I wanted. Freedom. A career. A mate. I cringe to admit such things, but through my teens, about one out of every three nights I cried myself to sleep. I was miserable with loneliness for the opposite sex (sometimes it was related to a specific person and other times it was just the lack of anyone) and ache for my destiny to be fulfilled. I knew I would have a good future, but I wanted it now (then).
Those days my pen flew. I tore through journals like fire, consuming each page. I have a chest full of diaries I’ve kept. There’s got to be somewhere between fifteen and twenty of them (from age 9 to age 19) locked away, scrawled with bubbly handwriting and heart-dotted-i’s. And then I met my future husband. We started dating. And what had been an hour of journaling every night suddenly turned into two. I had the warm fuzzies. I had more to write about than ever before.
But after the wedding, my journal became a seriously neglected thing of the past. Like a best friend that gets discarded for the newest fling, it rarely had my attention. I was in love. I was happy. Scratch that. I was euphoric. I had no need for writing. (That’s not quite true. I always needed to be creative in some form or another. But at that point in my life, my writing went by the wayside.)
From Reality to Fiction
At this point you’re probably waiting for the bombshell. “You were happy? What happened?” you may be wondering. And to that I have nothing to offer but an anticlimax. I’m still in love and I’m still happy. Nothing changed. (Well, some things changed. Many years and several babies later, I now have four men to love.)
When I started writing fiction I realized that bringing back some of those long-forgotten emotions, especially the longing and the pain worked as really great fuel for writing. When I tuned in to those old feelings, the words just flowed.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t many authors of the classics have their own sad personal stories, writing about love when there was none? Writing is an amazing way to fulfill your own fantasies, dreams and hopes.
That doesn’t mean you have to have a sad life or live in depression to be a good writer or have a good story. But it means that you have to dig deep to find those emotions. And I think that if they feel real in the moment, it makes the writing that much better.
It’s true for me. But what about you? Does connecting with your emotions help you create? Which is more powerful– the good or the bad?