In a Melancholic State of Mind

You know those introductory acting classes where there’s a drama teacher telling a bunch of her students to scream, or cry, or tap into their emotions?  And they all do and look like a bunch of wild animals?  Anyway, I’ve never been in one of those classes, but I’ve seen actors do these kind of exercises and while I don’t doubt that this is beneficial in some way, I gotta admit—I think it’s weird, slightly creepy, and makes me wanna laugh and say, “Oh my God, what freaks!”

I know, that’s kind of mean, and I swear I’m not a mean person.  But I’m also a bit of a wallflower and the idea of displaying that kind of uninhibited emotion in front of others makes me squeamish.

However, here’s what I have been doing lately.

I’ve been depressing myself…on purpose. *audience laughs and screams, “Oh my God, what a freak!”*

That’s right, that’s right, people.  Pipe down. It’s…uh, perfectly normal.  Right?  Okay, here’s my explanation:

So, I’ve been having crazy trouble with my WIP.  Not just the hoarding mess I told you guys about before, but it’s also taken me longer than usual to figure out this main character.  I mean, really figure her out ‘cause she’s been fighting me for some reason.  But, finally, finally,  I have a good idea of who she is and what she’s dealing with and now I’m thrilled that I’m finally getting more to the heart of the story, the parts that up until now sounded too…generic, contrived, or just off somehow.  But while I’m thrilled and excited that it’s finally coming together how I envisioned, excitement and happiness is not what I want to infuse into these scenes.  I need to be in that melancholic state that makes sense for my character (at least for these particular scenes) so her voice sounds genuine.  So, what do I do? Listen to some straight up depressing ass music and try to feel what she’s feeling.  Note: try to do this at home instead of the crowded coffee shop where the funny faces you try not to make as you try not to cry as you’re typing away tend to elicit the same funny looks you’d get if you just started sobbing and screaming, “WHY! WHY! WHY!”

Anyway, my point is, this seems to be a form of “getting into character,” which sounds a little weird, but seems to work well for me and this particular character.  Though, I do have to be careful not to give in to some melodramatic tendencies.   How about you, have you ever gotten into character, depressed yourself on purpose, or thought, Oh my God, what freaks!

Feel free to judge me…

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16 Responses to In a Melancholic State of Mind

  1. I was a drama kid, but I still felt weird about the whole screaming thing. It made me feel like a freak 🙂 I have been known to write and cry as I tried to get myself into the proper mindset, so you’re definitely not alone!

  2. J. P. Cabit says:

    Uuuuuuuuummmmmmmmm…yah…I don’t do that often. Can’t imagine that that would be very good for me as a person to purposefully depress myself…lol 😀

    Although I do try to create emotions in myself before, just for fun, just cause I haven’t stopped “making believe,” and just because there’s a black car following me and I’m listening to melodramatic music and just because I wonder what it would feel like “If…”

    • I know, pretty demented, huh? 🙂
      Yeah, I think pretty much all writers play make believe on some level, always wondering “what if.” After all, we pretty much hang out with imaginary people for the majority of our time.

  3. Indigo says:

    I’ve had a very…uhm…colorful life. Fortunately, I don’t have to delve far to eviscerate emotions and drip them on the page in front of me. A friend of mine has gone as far as dressing like his character, listening to the same kind of music his character would, even doing homework to get in his characters head. I think going to these lengths brings a sense of realism to the story. (Hugs)Indigo

  4. Julia says:

    This actually sounds like a good idea! (Potentially this seems easier than the opposite, of getting in a happy mood.) Like you, I have melodramatic tendencies, so I could see myself really getting into the carrying on so I definitely WILL do this at home if I try it! 🙂

  5. I took a few drama classes and remember those types of exercises. I thought they were fun but I also was never as free or uninhibited as my classmates. I can totally see how this can help with writing. If you’re able to tap into your own emotions when writing about a character, that means she will be that much more real for the reader.

    • Hi Ghenet,

      Exactly! It’s really a matter of tapping into your emotions and bringing that to the page however works for you. While you definitely want to stay away from the melodrama, I think you have to “feel” when you write. It’s a delicate (and difficult) balance, though.

  6. Zoraida says:

    I’m also in a shitty mood.

    I might feel better when I get my edits.

    I also haven’t been to the gym in a week, so that gets me a little down. It’s like having no energy. I tried quitting coffee and that just made me miserable. So I saw SCREW THAT.

    Thanks for your welcome comment on the Apocalypsies board!

    ~Zoraida

    • Quitting coffee? Are you insane. Get thee a double shot espresso right now!

      So glad to have you at the Apocalypsies! Good luck with edits. And yeah, the waiting game with a group that is infamously neurotic is just plain mean, isn’t it?

  7. REscarcega says:

    Interesting post and comments… I feel as I’ve gotten older dropping the wallflower tendencies has become easier. The weird and creepy feelings are no longer there or I’m able to see them for what they are – anxieties and fears of failure. The trick is to laugh at yourself and not take everything too seriously. Have fun with it.

    In regards to writing characters… nope, you are not a freak! 🙂 Whatever works for *you* is best. I’ll try the method approach next time a character comes into play to see if it works for me. Cheers!

    • I hope the same is true for me someday. And I think you’re right, the wallflower syndrome is really rooted in insecurities and fear of failure and loss of control. Even as my rational mind knows this, it’s the rest of me that doesn’t listen, lol.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. comingeast says:

    I’ve never tried that, but it sounds interesting. I just wait until the characters become real and then they write their own story. I love when that happens!

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