I think most of us have been there; a break up, a huge fight with a friend, a stretch of time where everything just seems to be falling apart. Before I became an author, I would usually write songs or poems to let out the anger and frustration I felt, and somehow it always made me feel better. It’s like a form a therapy, and if you’re like me and rather sit down with a cup of tea and blank pieces of paper than throwing on running shoes, it can be really useful in combating the blues. I know a lot of creative people, and I think most of them are as obsessive about things as I am. Something happens, it can be the smallest thing, yet you can’t shake it no matter how hard you try. It doesn’t always warrant a long chat with someone, you can’t have a discussion about every little thing you feel (especially when you feel so much all the time). Just telling myself to “forget it” doesn’t work for me either. Instead, I’ve learned to channel negative or unresolved emotions into my writing.
Obviously, the best solution to any issue with another human being is to talk it out face to face but that’s not always possible. Maybe the person/people you are having an issue with are unsafe to be around, maybe seeing them or talking to them again will only worsen the problem, maybe they don’t want to talk to you. Whatever it is, writing about how you feel can be a useful tool. At the very least, it can help you work through those feelings so that when you do confront someone you have a clearer understanding of what’s in your heart, and if that time never comes at least you had your chance to let it all out on paper.
I’m an awful human being, and have made people I dislike in real life villains in my books. As terrible as that is, it’s really gratifying and a perk of being an author. You kind of get to be like Taylor Swift, screw me over, and I’m writing a song about you. Don’t like it? Don’t be a dick 🙂 It’s also a great way to let go of a grudge you can’t seem to get off your mind, it’s worked for me. Trust me, nothing feels as good as watching that girl who stole your boyfriend fall off a cliff (in your story of course). Before anyone gets angry about this, I would never use anyone’s real name and you shouldn’t either unless you don’t mind being sued.
And it doesn’t always have to be about conflict per say. Maybe you have an unresolved romantic situation, a crush you know will never go anywhere, a heartfelt speech you don’t have the guts to deliver. Go ahead, put it in your book. It could make for some of the best (since it’s real!) dialogue and writing, and maybe once you see it on paper you’ll have the courage to talk about it in real life or if it’s what you’re looking for, be able to let it go. There’s a lot to be said for getting closure via writing when you can’t get it in any other way.
Using the problems you’ve encountered in your own life to help your readers relate to a character is also useful. I was bullied a lot as a kid, maybe because I read too much and liked The Beatles when everyone else was listening to Biggie (I liked him too damn it) or perhaps because I dared to be a little different than everyone else around me. Years later, I wasn’t exactly going to confront people who were married with kids now, and in all honesty I’d let it go but when one of my characters turned out to be someone who was also bullied I decided to translate my experience with bullying into my writing. It was cathartic and it made me a bit sad for the younger me. It also made me remember that, despite how much it didn’t matter anymore, it hurt so desperately at the time. I think a lot of times as supposed adults, we forget how devastating emotions can be as a kid. Perspective and time makes things seem smaller, but it’s important to remember that once upon a time what our friends thought of us meant everything, and being teased could make us feel defeated. When writing for children, channeling your own childhood can be important in remembering just how wonderful and terrible it all was.
As a writer, I have a an entire fictional world inside of me, and that can sometimes be overwhelming. It can be hard to balance your real life emotions with that of your characters, but it’s important to learn from both and hopefully find a balance between them. It’s never healthy to live completely in your work of fiction and alternatively, it’s pointless to try and keep your own experiences out of your writing. It can only help to bring depth and emotion to it! So if you’re having a hard time right now, or are dealing with a broken heart, let it out in your writing and see where the words take you.