Willpower Won’t Power Emotional Writing

pick that shovelEmotional writing connects with readers. But you’re not going to produce it simply by trying harder or longer. You can’t will yourself to an emotional outpouring. I’d like to chat more about ways to increase the amperage in our writing, but I’d like to be sure you understand that “trying harder” isn’t one of them.

Here’s your homework: read any or all of these fine articles on the limitations of willpower, and understand that this is how your brain is wired, not some failure on your part. While these articles are, in general, talking about persistence, problem-solving, and self-control, the principles affect your efforts to produce emotionally evocative prose.

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When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Have a Decision to Make

What about pausing when the writing gets hard? Ah; this is a place for nice judgment and some brain science.

mind the mindWhen a mental project such as solving a puzzle or overcoming a design challenge becomes difficult, there are two options: push through, or take a break to allow your unconscious to gnaw on the problem without your pesky conscious mind interfering.

How does one know when to do which?

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Taking a Break Without Breaking Momentum

sea the pauseAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It can make writers collapse in a gibbering heap in the corner, which might also be dull.

Yesterday I was telling you to keep your momentum. Today I’m telling you to take a break. Coping with conflict is part of the writer’s life. Here’s my perspective on how to balance these opposing needs.

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Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ — Momentum as a Writing Tool

“Now, where was I?”

Most folks dislike being interrupted. Finding your place in that column of figures you were adding. Wondering whether you were just about to add the salt, or just added the salt. Might as well start the joke over from the beginning because you aren’t sure where you left off.

With a non-fiction book, momentum is a good idea. With fiction, it’s vital. One reason to write every day, even a few sentences, is to keep the story rolling in your mind. The thread of story, the creative process, is tenuous at times. We’ve all experienced the brilliant thought we were sure we’d remember but which evaporated, leaving only a stain.

keep moo-ving
keep moo-ving

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