Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Prompt: Arguing with yourself—or someone else—or, writing conflict or emotion

Have you ever faced a difficult decision? Maybe one where you didn’t like your choices? Or you didn’t like the choice it seemed like you *should* make? It’s agonizing! Thought, time, and energy consuming. If you’re sharing your indecision with friends or family, it’s likely all you talk about. It can also be very emotional—if it were an easy decision, it probably wouldn’t take you such a long time to make.

One thing I sometimes do is argue with myself, trying to lay out all the points and figure out my course of action. I don’t always keep this silently in my head, but I usually refrain from having such conversations with myself when others are present.

How about a disagreement, or a fight, with someone else? Whether the person or the issue is dear to your heart, that can also be stressful and consuming. How do you feel physically? Does your heart pound? Do your temples feel tight? Do you get a headache behind your eye, or your ear?

Or maybe it gets your blood pumping and you feel energized? Charges, excited, vibrant? Do you feel energy rushing through your fingers? Like you’ve got a little buzz? Do you thrive, not feeling like it’s conflict to be avoided, but animated debate to be relished?

I recently dealt with a strong personal grief. I blogged about it in August, and it is the root of my closing lines about Namaste and my personal credo of Love More. And in the middle of it, I wrote about how I felt—the physical effects of crying, the ache in my chest, the tumultuous emotions of grief, anger, guilt, love. And I’m going to incorporate some of what I wrote in my novel WIP, as some of my characters face old loss and new.

At first I felt a little…odd…about that. Like I was “using” the experience in a bad way. But I decided three things: 1) I will use it in honor and memory of family and friends gone from my life; 2) I accept the gift of powerful experience and depth of emotion with gratitude; and 3) it will make my writing all the more powerful, because it will *feel* real to anyone who has experienced similar emotion.

As your characters deal with conflict – whether it’s internal or external – remember to share with your reader the emotions that compel them to make the choices they make, to fight, to change, to live their lives.

And if you can write about how that really feels for yourself, then you may find some powerful material to incorporate into your writing that will connect your readers and draw them deeper into your story.

So, my challenge to you is to think of an emotional experience that you’ve *recently* had. Or consciously capture the next one. Think about your conscious thoughts, your rational self, your physical responses, your emotions. Write it all out – slapdash, messy, stream-of-consciousness is fine. Get it all out on paper. Maybe you need to set it aside for a little bit, until you’ve handled the situation. Come back and take a look. Can you pull out elements that will give depth to one of your current characters? Or tuck it away, and see if some future story doesn’t present a situation where you think of this emotional exercise, et voila.


And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s one I love:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


Dogs in House

Time writing
25 minutes

November word count

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