Blog Chain time again!
The topic is:
Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?
Is angst necessary for good writing?
Well, when I was in high school, my writer friends and I certainly thought so. The word “Angst” became a sort of mantra among us, emerging as a guttural grunt to be shouted when appropriate. And I certainly wrote angsty things during that time… poetry mostly.
Through the glass
Would leave my
Tied with pretty
With a train
Would leave me
In the lock
But I don’t think good writing is angsty all that often. And I don’t think of angst as something a writer must acquire in order to write well.
I think of it more like research, I guess.
As a writer, I think it’s important to experience as much as possible. Actually, scratch that… as a HUMAN BEING, I think it’s important to experience as much as possible. I’ve always tried to learn whatever I can. When I was 13, I made my young cousins show me their piano lessons, so I could teach myself. I learned sign language and translated for the Children’s Theater productions when I was in high school. Calligraphy, hula dancing, coding for electronic books, medicine, palm-reading, law, Spanish folk songs… all these things widen my personal experiences and make my writing richer.
It’s the same way with emotional experiences. The more personal extremes you’ve experienced, the more genuinely you can empathize and express those sentiments for your characters. Every emotion– including angst– is valid and useful in writing.
So, no… I don’t think a writer needs to suffer for their art, per se. I don’t think making yourself miserable or melancholy is going to improve your work. But I do think a writer needs to be OUT THERE, taking risks, making themselves emotionally vulnerable and just plain embracing the rich up-and-downs of life. The benefits for the writing is just a bonus. 🙂
Next up on the chain is the fabulous Jessica Verday, so tune in tomorrow and see what she has to say about this topic.