Two Ways to use Life’s Interruptions in your Writing

Like everyone else, I have my plans, my goals. But life gets in the way. Another day goes by with unmet goals and a greater sense of futility in what I’m trying to do.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Somewhere I learned that the best thing to do with negative emotions is to channel them into some kind of productive activity.

I’ll explain what I mean. Yesterday I spent some time attempting to unravel the mysteries of a health insurance plans and benefits. To my utter shock, dismay, outrage (do you get the idea I was plenty upset?), I found out a mistake we made last year is going to cost us plenty in the form of increased premiums—possibly for life. All because we didn’t sign up at a time we didn’t need the insurance (we had another policy.)

I could have let me sense of rage and helplessness lead me to spend hours playing computer games or in impotent fuming or throwing temper tantrums or pity parties. Instead, I decided to use it to help my writing (or my life).

Specifically, I thought of three ways:

1. Journal exactly what I’m feeling. How are my emotions expressed through facial expression? Body language? What am I feeling in the pit of my stomach? What is this making me want to do? What crazy ideas am I coming up with for seeking revenge on the evil insurance company?

2. Use some of the above either in an existing work or a new piece. If I have an angry character, maybe I can express his anger more viscerally, using my own experience. Or I can use my wild revenge scenarios in some other way, maybe by having my hero use one to destroy the evil villain who is threatening the existence of life on the planet Ffodessip. See, just like that, I have a new story idea.

As I pondered what was getting me upset, a first line came to mind “My intent that day wasn’t to drive my car into the Senator’s office.” Another new story with great possibilities.

3. If all else fails, and I just can’t focus my mind to write, I can use that energy to do something I’ve been putting off. There are plenty of jobs around here that fit that category—like cleaning the bathroom or trimming the hedges. By getting some of these tasks done, I can get back to writing feeling like I’ve accomplished something.

In any case, turning all that emotional energy to some use makes me feel better when I’m calmer. I didn’t allow the emotional upsets to prevent me from getting anything done.

Now I have a new task on my list—figuring out just what is life like on Ffodessip.

Anyone have any other tips for using the problems and predicaments of life in writing?

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