Setting the Mood

The writer is an oddity in this world for a simple reason: he is more than the personality of self, but a soul that must be capable of tapping into a hundred different personalities as the pen may guide him. The writer, matched perhaps only by actors, artists, and spies, must have the capability to tap into the inner workings of the mind and breathe life into characters that are nevertheless nothing like him.

Vampire

Biting. Sparkling, drooling, or just plain snarling, it’s still not cool. (Photo credit: virginsuicide photography)

Remember that little detail the next time someone sneers and calls your labors child’s play. Also refrain from biting. People don’t like biting very much.

Yet the problem with this arrangement is that, often enough, we find ourselves at the whimsy of moods. Fickle things, really, but they can be the key difference between a well-written scene and a downright enthralling one. I would never council a writer not to write simply because he doesn’t feel quite into character—that’s the beauty of editing, of the multiple drafts we must insist upon our craft—but it can make things difficult. Some characters may be so inherently different—perhaps so dark, or so flamboyant—that our own minds cannot begin to connect with them on a regular basis. The mood—their mood—may strike us once in a month, once in a year, and if we do not throw ourselves at their scene in that time, we may never capture perfectly that essence for which we so strive.

I know, I know. You’re thinking: Chris, why are you making this sound almost spiritual? Are you high?

We are notoriously fickle people, us writers, and this is the reason. We have to be. Our moods roll with the wind, and our writing with it. Though we can train ourselves to perfect the skill of our pen, the creativity behind it ebbs and flows as the storm upon the sea—we never know quite when and to what means it will gather.

Fortunately, there are ways to help manipulate ourselves. To manipulate the moods and personalities we so crave. While nothing’s ever certain, they can help:

  1. Music . Why do you put the Barry White on when you know that special someone’s coming over? Because deep down everyone knows that music stirs the heart and moves the emotion to the beats. A sad song can drag us down to the deepest depths of mortal despair. A fast song can revitalize a weary body. A smooth song, peppered with those deep, low notes and reverberating bass well…be still those quivering legs. Probably also relevant to your Valentine’s Day interests.
  2. Travel. I don’t mean a road trip—although that might not hurt either. Simply, I mean get outside. Go to your favorite place. Climb a mountain. Sit down in the local coffee shop. Walk the lonely streets. Different places, different people—these things can strike a chord as sure as that picture of a sandy beach you stare every day at your work desk.
  3. Read. Watch. Listen. Tell me this is self-explanatory.
  4. Drink. Oh come now, surely you knew this was going to be here somewhere. While I’m not advising that you go out and get yourself royally bombed (be sure someone else has possession of both your keys and any Text Message-capable devices), there is something to be said for the mental tweak such beverages bring. They’re mood affecters—it’s what they are made to do. Have yourself a sip, let the liquid do its work. Don’t overdue it–just one or two. At worst, you relax (never a bad thing for a writer), at best you unlock the very best level of the creative flow. Just be sure to go back and edit extra carefully in the morning.
DSC_0043

A little trip can go a long way.

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10 thoughts on “Setting the Mood

  1. The writer, matched perhaps only by actors, artists, and spies, must have the capability to tap into the inner workings of the mind and breathe life into characters that are nevertheless nothing like him.-true this, I like how you said that, I am quoting you. May I ?

    • Well, that is a danger, of course. Tapping into so many other roles can screw with your vision of yourself quite mightily. There’s probably more than one reason so many of us turn to the drinking and the likewise mood effectors–trying to see what emerges when all the other efforts, and walls, and all the rest are laid low.

      That said, if you’re already an Actor, Artist, AND Writer, I recommend you get on that Spy boat too. Because once you’re that far in, you might as well go for the whole package!

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