The Method Writer…I Think

Is there such a thing as method writing? I’ve read many times about method actors and it used to always intrigue me the lengths some artists would go to in order to connect with a character. It was a level of dedication and obsession I didn’t think I could ever identify with.

Until now.

I’m pretty sure I’m method-writing with my current work-in-progress.The funny thing is that I’m not doing it conscientiously. There have been several times while writing this current work where I’ve connected with my heroine in a way I’ve not done previously. As writers, we love our characters, almost like we love our children, for they are borne from us. We’ve molded them, shaped them, helped them grow and become their best selves. So, if one of our characters is hurting or dies, we hurt and grieve. But this is not the kind of connection I’m talking about this time.

My objective in this book is to really explore the depth of human hurt, how that hurt affects our minds, emotions, relationships and even personalities. It’s a serious subject and a very tall order, but I’ve felt, at times, overcome by the darkness my heroine is enduring. And I’m talking to the point of walking around in a mood of melancholy and hopelessness.

Here’s the weird thing: even though I know I’ve done this to myself, it doesn’t make the despair any easier to bear.

Here’s the other weird thing: on these dark days I feel compelled to write more than ever, almost as if I must write the scenes that require the darkness before I forget what it really feels like.

It’s a weird mental trip, let me tell you. I was thinking of it today, as I had a particularly “dark” day, a day where I felt like nothing I was doing in my life mattered, where I felt like a pool of tears was swollen behind my eyes and desperate for a reason to spill, a day where I couldn’t remember ever having smiled in my life. You know, the kind of day where you wake up wishing for bed time so you can go back to sleep. I was trying to figure out why I’d woken up in such a state of mind and it occurred to me that I had a very prolific night of writing last night, and then I started to wonder if the frequency of these “dark days” in recent months has to do with my writing sessions.

Am I method writing without knowing it? Or am I simply being extremely empathetic? Or just plain old pathetic?

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2 responses to “The Method Writer…I Think

  1. Maybe. Maybe it’s a mental thing. I’ve noticed once I start focusing on something bad (even if it’s not happening to me), I begin focusing on all the bad things in my life, and then I fail to notice the good and my mood becomes “dark.” Maybe writing those scenes IS making you live them because you’re so focused on the bad in your story while you’re writing. I’m sure it takes a lot of concentration to focus on a piece of work. I’ve found when I start getting in those moods I have to step back and focus on something good. I guess it’s more of a juggling game. I hope you get to having less dark days after your writing sessions now that you noticed it.

    • Yes, I can totally see that, and I have suffered from depression in the past (post-partum), but this is different. Weird. But I make myself do “gratitude” exercises throughout the day, focusing on three specific things I’m grateful for on that particular day – instead of the vague “I’m grateful for my kids.” It definitely helps me re-align.

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