Thursday, April 16, 2015

Creating Feelings Workbooks

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! It's writing tip day, and I've got some great exercises that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, and they'll keep you writing; that's the most important thing. If you've read my post titled "Indescribable, and Why it Cannot Work for a Writer," you'll be one step into this process already. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Have you ever been in a rut? One of the ones that have you pulling your hair out and wishing you could meet that deadline with great words instead of mediocre ones you slapped on the page out of haste?

Sometimes, all you need is a little muse push. This exercise can help you frame your writing for drawing on later.

What the heck do I mean?

Stay with me.

If you're feeling something, anything, that's a great place for any novel to grow. Even if you're overwhelmed by the size and pressure of the task ahead.

Here's what I want you to do:
  • Open a new document
  • Center your cursor at the top
  • Think about how you're feeling in the moment
  • Type that word in
  • Hit enter
  • Left flush your cursor and use a cliche (angry = mad as a mashed cat)
  • Now hit enter again
  • Highlight those two lines (the one with the cliche and the blank one) and click numbered list
  • Create more than twenty-five sentences that tell how angry feels
  • Save the document as: Feelings_YourEmotionHere so you can find it when you need it later
I know what you're thinking. Twenty-five, Jo? Twenty-frikkin-five! You must be smoking crack.

But I'm not. Plus, I asked for more than twenty-five. *grin* If you stick with it, expand upon your few word descriptions to great phrases. I'll get to when and where this will come in handy in a few minutes. I think it goes without saying that I don't want you to worry about being grammatically correct. Just let it flow.

Let me go with depressed as an example.
  1. Empty nest
  2. Wrapped in a shroud
  3. In a dark place
  4. If the world explodes, I'll be one lucky bastard
  5. Rocks in my stomach
  6. Lead weights on my shoulders
  7. Fog obscuring my every thought
  8. Windows blackened so I can't see daylight
  9. As though a bat has wrapped me in leathery wings, stealing my breath
  10. Tiny and insignificant
  11. If I weren't around, no one would notice or care
  12. Numb all over
  13. Brain in a cloud that prevents me from thinking happy thoughts, as though I'll never find joy again
  14. Everyone is out to get me because I'm like the buzzing fly puking my acid on their food so I can slurp it up in my misery of short life
  15. Desire to step out of my mortal shell and walk where I might get a glimpse of the light my heart craves but has been denied for so long
  16. Scum on the top of a pond that only exists to be feasted on by parasitic insects determined to suck every ounce of nourishment out of me to feed themselves
  17. Hands shaking, brain racing, heart dead and unfeeling
  18. Life sucked out of me through a hole in my heart made, ripped, and gaping because of the cruelty of the people in my life
  19. A dark cloak descending from the sky, fluttering down delicately, inviting me in, promising me warmth and safety, only to choke me when I accepted its black embrace that siphoned the will to live
  20. Blank stares filled with thoughts of everything lost throughout the years is all my mind can focus on
  21. Tingles rushing through my fingers, up my arms, twining around my heart as they beg me to let go of my own soul; to free my spirit so it can glide away through the ether, leaving me in peaceful nothingness
  22. Weight pressing down on me, and a twenty-ton monkey on my back who insists on dragging me the wrong way--away from the success, happiness, and assurance I crave
  23. Back cramps that slowly make their way around my ribs, creating pressure on my abdomen I can't release, suffocating me as my breath is stolen and my lung capacity closing down inch by inch
  24. Heat in my head threatening to burst forth from my eyes in the form of tears I'm convinced will be crimson if allowed to flow
  25. No desire to move, breathe, or think as my senses shut down, one by one, leaving me bereft
  26. Every reflection of myself making me want to lash out at the person on the other side, because I know she's worth nothing
You don't have to stop there. Keep going until you can't. This is just to show you it can be done. It only took me about twenty minutes, so it's not a terribly time-consuming exercise. Yeah, I'm feeling a little depressed right now. Why? Because I had to step into it to make it come out. What I'm asking you to do is write about it when you're feeling it. You can probably see the progression above, yeah?

Now, I bet you're wondering how this can help you in your writing, huh?

This is the awesome part. If you ever need a way to describe how a depressed character is feeling, you just created more than twenty-five descriptions of depression you can copy and paste into your manuscript. Never just say your character was feeling depressed. Use what you know to bring that feeling to life on the page for your reader.

It can also help you by becoming an outlet, like a journal, where you know you can write stuff down honestly. If you get it out, it'll help you deal with those feelings in a positive manner.

Don't just write about being sad, depressed, or overwhelmed. Be sure you're sitting down to fill out pages for happiness, excitement, or curiosity. You need everything in your writing arsenal.

What do you think? Do you use methods like this to help your writing? Tell me, and other readers, how you do it and how it helps!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. I <3 this!!! I think I'll have my class do an exercise like this in their journal . . . whatever emotion they're feeling at the moment :-)

    1. EEP! I think I just hit a whole new level of excitement, Jamie! I hope it helps them connect better via the written word :) Thanks for the comment!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Misty! I'd love to see what you do with it :)

  3. I love this. SO cool. You rock!

  4. Fantastic! I'm so going to do this! Thanks for the great tips!

    1. EEK! I want to see what you come up with, Ginny!! :)


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