Whilst writing an intense and heart wrenching scene some writers will find themselves getting emotional. As tears roll down their cheeks and plop onto their writing desk they will feel like taking a little break to work through these difficult emotions. This is called the Writer’s Emotional Break. Some might say that it’s yet another form of distraction for the writer and they are probably right.
The writer in this post’s image is in the middle of taking a Writer’s Emotional Break. After writing a tough and gruelling scene about two characters breaking off their engagement she staggered over to her window, pressed her head against it and wept. Looks like she will be there for a good half hour and it may impact her daily word count target.
An Emotional Break usually occurs after the writer has written scenes involving:
- Characters falling in love and out of love.
- Characters who are in love but cannot be together.
- Characters who disliked each other at the start of the book and up getting married at the end.
- Characters who are sick or dying.
- Characters grieving about another character’s death.
- Characters writing other characters heartfelt letters.
- Characters enjoying a happy ending – after twenty four chapters of pain and suffering.
There are several stages to the Writer’s Emotional Break:
- Character Attachment. There is no magic formula for this as you can’t force yourself to get attached to characters. Some characters that you create will do nothing for you, but there will be a few special characters who will climb into your heart’s cockpit and take the controls. In my experience these are usually the characters who are a little bit vulnerable and have a refreshing human side to them. Basically you get emotionally attached to these special characters which means writing becomes a very pleasurable experience…until you have to cause them some pain.
- Doing The Unthinkable. You know that to make this story come alive you need some suffering. These special characters need to go through some sort of life drama or inner turmoil. Doing the unthinkable i.e. making your characters suffer requires some mental fortitude on your part. It has to happen because if it doesn’t you will be left with a dull book and an array of poor reviews on Amazon. Sigh!
- Doubt. This stage is where you doubt yourself. Are you doing the right thing? Do you have to send these characters into three chapters of inner turmoil? Can you really write about their suffering when they mean so much to you? Cue several hours spent sweating over whether you should create a such scene where your two characters have some sort of life drama making it almost impossible for them to be locked in a passionate embrace by the end of the book. After a few tense emails with a writer friend, who is a lot tougher than you, the scene starts to take shape.
- Writer’s Emotional Break. As you write the heart wrenching scene you can feel a lump rise at the back of your throat and your eyes fill with tears. Cue your Writer’s Emotional Break! As the tears for your characters start to fall you put the laptop down and decide how you are going take this special kind of break. There are some writers out there who will prefer to not make a fuss and will simply snivel quietly into a tissue at their desk. There are some writers out there who favour a dramatic Writer’s Emotional Break and like to press their head up against a window and sob…loudly.
- Hope. Once the tears have dried up the writer will return to their laptop and carry on writing. They may have puffy, red eyes and be a little pale but they will feel better on the inside. It will be tough carrying on with their project but they will know that things will get easier in chapters twenty and twenty one.
Take it easy out there Writers!