Saturday, October 10, 2015

Writer's Therapy

This week has been very stressful at my day job. The insanity that I have had to deal with makes me want to take my work computer and toss it out of the window. Frustrations build up as software stops working and people are yelling at you because of things out of your control. I deal with this sort of thing all the time, but this week has been the perfect storm of unreasonable people. They have formed a cyclone of WTF only the Tasmanian Devil cartoon could love.  It makes me question the sanity and future of man and woman-kind as a whole.

An example of something that happened to me this week. I was contacted to help a customer that had an issue with something that I did not have anything to do with nor did I have the authority to resolve. I contacted the customer with the information they would need to resolve the issue. The customer emailed me back saying that they refuse to use that information and that I personally had to fix the problem or they would sue my company and myself while raining fire down from their buttocks, flying overhead, and singing Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus.

In response I called the customer, spent 30 minutes explaining the situation and then the customer finally agreed to let me conference in someone that could actually help, the roaming gnome from Travelocity. Once the issue had been resolved, the customer thanked me for my professionalism and politeness before the call ended. An hour of my day gone, but at least the issue was resolved and I could move on to something else that hopefully involved playful puppies or fluffy kittens. A couple of days later I get another email from the customer saying that I was rude and had bullied them into agreeing to something they did not want. I'm like...  Seriously?!? I wasn't involved at all other than explaining that I couldn't fix the problem directly and getting the customer in contact with someone who could. Apparently that makes me the Big Bad Wolf going around blowing everyone's house down. Don't mess with me!

Anyway this is not what I came here to write about. OK maybe I needed to vent and get some aggression out *points confetti cannon at you* Do you feel lucky?

What this leads me to is one of the ways I deal with this stress and frustration. I write. I put words down with furious fingers of tippy tapping on keyboards made from the bones of my enemies. WRAA... roar because you can and it feels good to scare the crap out of the people surrounding you that did not expect it. Who cares if you're in a Starbucks and 3 people spilled their coffee? Not THIS scribbler!

Writing As Therapy

You have to admit that venting your frustrations is therapeutic, or you can disagree and I'll whip you with wet spaghetti until you change your mind! This you can do on social media, through a blog, or a private diary. Talking about the writing, not the spaghetti whipping. Writing about what is bothering you can release that tension.

What about if you are writing fiction? Like nearly every writing workshop will teach you, kill your darlings. *sharpens knife* Take out your frustrations on your characters at every turn. Oh they need a rope to get across the chasm? Make the rope frayed in the middle and have it snap when someone is halfway across. If they fall to their death then they fall. You might need a new protagonist after this.

Every time your characters get out of the fire, toss them into a new one. They make their way out of the death maze, but now they have to cross a 20 acre field being patrolled by a hungry Godzilla. Every little nasty thing you can put in your protagonist's path needs to be there. Take away their shoes and make them walk on Legos. Take away all their food then put a chocolate bar just out of reach. If they manage to figure out a way to get it then when they open the wrapper make sure it's filled with insects. Be cruel to the point where they question if some higher being hates them. It might even be true.

Taking aggression and anger out on your characters makes for interesting reading and it also prevents you from taking it out on others in your life. With that anger mitigated a bit, the mind is clearer to tackle the cause of frustration. I already feel better. Don't worry about my characters and their lack of having hands.

The Allegory

Addressing issues directly in fiction is another way to address frustrations. Parts of the story can be crafted to represent a situation that is real to cause the characters heartbreak. Some of the greatest writers in history have used this method to vent their own frustrations. George Orwell, CS Lewis, and even Plato used allegories. Voltaire used allegories to masterfully roast his opponents. Why can't you do the same?

Fictionalize your story and take it to the level of ridiculousness that matches your level of anger. Everything in the story can represent something else. In my current WIP I am using it to vent some of my own frustrations in the world we currently live in. Many of those are behind the scenes and don't really show their face much in the first novel of the series, but I assure you they are there. Virtual Wars: Initialization takes place hundreds of years in the future, and some of the things that happen are a case of history repeating itself. That history includes things that are currently happening in the United States. The frustration that I have over current events is sometimes overwhelming. My lone voice howling in the wind is nothing compared to the hype machine that opposes it, so what can I do? I write about it.

Share with me your frustrations! I want to hear about how writing has helped you! The comments section is always open for business.

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