We’ve all had those days where nothing has gone right. One incident builds on the next and before we know it, we’re in the most foul, dark mood, yet we want to find solace in our writing. We sit down in front of the computer and take a look at where we are in our latest project and decide, okay, this is my time and I’m going to enjoy it!
We try to escape into the story, but it still doesn’t feel right. Maybe you’re supposed to be writing a happy scene, or a love scene and your characters keep deteriorating into bickering. Perhaps that tender scene you had envisioned in your mind isn’t coming across as touching as you’d like it to be.
Stop for a second. Take a close look at what you’re doing. Are you leaking?
Our attitudes have a direct effect on what and how we write. We call this leaking. Whether we want them to or not, our personal feelings often leach into our work. Sometimes it’s subtle and your readers may point this out to you. Try not to get offended. Remember your audience knows you better than you think and they can tell when you’re angry, sad or totally bored.
Other times, you see it and choose to ignore it.
How can you keep from leaking?
- Don’t write. The moment you detect a leak, stop what you’re doing. Don’t you dare touch that keyboard. This doesn’t mean that you have to keep from writing completely. It means you need to take a step back and evaluate why you’re feeling this way. Get to the root of the matter. Is it something you can fix now? Good, then go fix it. And if you can’t fix it now? Stop worrying about it. Let it go and tell yourself this is not the attitude you want. You’ll be surprised how much telling yourself “This is NOT how I want to be right now” can make a massive shift in perspective.
- Write it ALL. Sounds contradictory to the first bit of advice, doesn’t it? Sometimes getting to the root of a problem means doing a massive brain-dump. Step away from the project and get your journal, then WRITE. Don’t think, just pour out everything in your head. Writing without thinking often helps us find clarity. You may surprise yourself and find the solution right there in your own words.
- Ask for help. After you’ve done your writing on your project, ask someone else to read it over for you. Have them look for areas where your tone leaked through.
- The Scarlett O’Hara Method: “I’ll worry about it tomorrow.” Sometimes all we need is a little time and space. Scarlett couldn’t cope with so many of her problems, so she put them off until she could deal with them. This could help you, too. Go ahead and write, work on the project if it makes you feel better. Then set it aside and look at it the next day. What do you see? Your project isn’t written in stone, that’s what delete buttons are for. Make the changes you need to, or totally scrap it, then move on.
Have you ever found yourself leaking? What do you do to fix it? Do you have your own methods for avoiding it?