Saturday, September 18, 2010

This Week In Revision: Tapping Into Emotion

Last week I snuck off to a matinee with my husband, enjoyed a laughter-filled dinner with favorite writing pals, and two fun people joined our writing group. Our family went to ice cream day at the State Fair, I got the laundry done (even folded!), and for some miraculous reason my house stayed clean. And I still had long, uninterrupted writing time.

I'm happy.

So how was I going to deepen all the rejection, pain, and sorrow my character experiences in Chapter Sixteen? I sat in my sunny living room trying to channel despair. Yeah--not happening.

To the diaries! I've written in my journal almost every day since my early teen years. Sure, I've recorded a lot of boring, ordinary days, but when the tough stuff happens, the words flow and flow and flow.

So which volume to read? My sixteen-year-old self's angst (my character is almost sixteen)? No, I went for recent rejection. Mostly because I knew I could find some deep pain in the pretty yellow journal with flowers and butterflies embossed on the front.

I sat on my front porch in the sunshine, my cat winding around my legs, sipping tea, and jotting down descriptions from a recent painful emotional episode in my life. Chapter Sixteen, here I come!

Writing always makes me feel better (I filled an entire two-hundred page journal during my daughter's spine surgery). But it's also a record, not just of events in my life, but of the emotional ups and downs. Reading about the fear I felt before college--will my life finally begin for real?--reads almost the same as the years I spent nurturing young children--will I ever feel like myself again?

Human emotion is fairly consistent. Rejection pretty much feels the same at sixteen as it does decades later (kind of a bummer, but true).

So that's my revision tip this week--keep a journal. It's never too late to start! Record your thoughts and emotions so you can tap into that deep stuff later--because sometimes life is as wonderful as eating four scoops of ice cream before dinner at the State Fair.


  1. First of all I have almost that exact same beautiful journal, it's been my companion this summer as I've tried to start writing and it's almost filled (such a good feeling!).

    Secondly I whole heartedly agree with going back to journals. I've noticed that I have a hard time being ok with making bad things happen to the characters (I'm coming to terms with my issues, haha) but my journal was a great place to find emotions I'm not necessarily feeling right now.

    And oh my gosh I LOVE that picture of all your journals. I haven't been good about writing in mine for almost 10 yrs, but from age 11ish-18 I was really good at it. Still I had the big giant books and now I wish I had lots of little ones like that, how fun!

  2. What a great post and what wonderful advice!
    I'm glad I found your blog! I met you earlier today at the Authorpalooza at the Barnes & Noble in Orem--I was the one with a billion questions. :)
    I just wanted to, once again, thank you for all of your advice and encouragement. Thanks to your optimism, I feel a lot better about the query process!
    I look forward to reading your blog, and I hope to be able to see you at another event soon!
    Put it on Paper

  3. Another reason why ice cream is so important.

  4. Bethany--Yes, ice cream is important :)

    Jessica--So nice to meet you too! Best of luck with your queries!

    Debbie--I'm thrilled that you're writing & finding journaling helpful too.