Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mood Swings and Character Traits

Jennifer writes as the mood strikes.

Maybe it’s because I’m a pantser. Perhaps it’s because I have limited time to write and so I grab moments when I can. It could even be that all writers do this, and I’m not so special after all. J

But my mood influences what I write and how I write. Sometimes, it prevents me from writing anything at all. Other times it enables me to write entire chapters in one quick sitting. Most often, though, my mood is reflected in a specific scene or conversation.

Although I don’t plot out every aspect of my work, I do have a general idea of where I’m going, and I don’t usually stop writing until I know what I’m going to write the next time I sit down. While I’d love to always write linearly, sometimes, my mood dictates that I don’t.

For example, the next piece in the story might be a love scene. However, when I sit down to write, I’m angry because I’ve gotten in an argument with someone. That’s not a good time to write a love scene, but it’s a great time to write one of the conflict scenes between the hero and heroine, or to incorporate the villain in the story. When I’m feeling snarky, I’m able to create great chemistry and banter between my hero and heroine, or really between any two characters. When I’m sad, I find I’m able to infuse the black moment with extra emotion.

For the past year, I’ve tried really hard to make sure I write at least a scene or two every day. With my time and attention pulled in many different directions, that’s not always possible. But it’s a goal that I keep in the back of my mind. I find it keeps my writing muscles in good shape and the added benefit is that I’ve learned to be able to write through almost anything. And, by harnessing the emotions I’m feeling at the time, I’m able to write scenes that I might have struggled with otherwise. I’m taking advantage of my feelings, rather than waiting to write at a time when I might be calmer or more focused.

It doesn’t always work and I’m far from perfect. Many scenes I write have to be rewritten or completely scrapped. But if I had to wait for a day when I was on an even-keel emotionally? I’d probably write no more than a title. Ever.


  1. I have noticed that moods effect my writing too. Sometimes I am just not in the mood and I find that if I step away for a bit, and then come back the words will start to flow.

  2. I've noticed that about me too, Kathy. However, I've also found that I'm getting moodier :) so if I step away every time, I'll never write!

  3. This has never occurred to me before! On reflection, it may be because I step 'outside myself' when I write, so I'm experiencing my characters' moods, rather than my own.

  4. I am definitely not a plotter, so I tend to write all over the place. (In fact, I blogged about that very thing on my other blog this past Sunday.) I tend to write whatever thoughts have filtered through my brain throughout the day. I never really thought about if my own mood dictates what my muse whispers to me. Interesting.

  5. Paula and Debra, I'm perfectly willing to admit I might be crazy. :)

  6. I understand completely how the way one is feeling can filter what can emerge creatively. Assuming a range between what Jen has described and what Paula's ability to step completely into the characters' head, I think I am closer to Jen, but the moments when I can lose myself in the characters are amazing.