Sunday, October 23, 2011

Writing With Emotion, Writing Without Emotion

How do you write emotionally about a subject, but yet distance yourself from that emotion so you can state your ideas clearly and cogently?

This question comes from a fellow writer who runs an exceptional blog about domestic violence. Most of what she writes comes from a place of strong emotion. She writes about her experience escaping an abusive relationship, she shares private and intense aspects of her emotional life, and she shares advice for readers in similar situations who are looking for help and guidance.

Strong emotions inspire us, and they can create in us an irresistible compulsion to write. And one of the great wonders of writing is how the words simply flow out of us when we're in a deeply emotional state.

But here's the problem: persuasive arguments, rich vivid prose and well-crafted sentences--the things that enable your readers to understand and embrace your ideas--are created from a place of calm logic, not from a place of emotion.

This is one of the most difficult and counterintuitive aspects of writing. You can compose text while emotional, but you should never edit and perfect that text until you can approach it objectively.

And that's where time comes in. Let your text rest for a while: a day, several days, or in rare instances, weeks. That passing time enables you to step back and carefully assess the strengths and weakness of what you've written, and to make corrections and adjustments as needed.

Yes, this sounds cold and logical. But remember, your primary task is to reach your readers. You must communicate your ideas and feelings in the clearest possible way, so your readers can feel your emotions too.

This post is gratefully dedicated to Taz at Climb the Rainbow.