Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In The Mood

I’m writing this blog post during a thunderstorm. I’m thankful because we need the moisture but I wish the sun were shining. I crave sunshine. It improves my mood but not necessarily my productivity, especially when it comes to writing blog posts. Maybe if I were attempting to write a dark, dramatic scene I could channel the weather and the mood it’s creating and create something sinister or tortured. The long rumbling clashes; the short flashes of light; the sound of water spraying from passing cars; and the rippled layers of gray put me in a murdering kind of mood. Or in a fighting kind of mood. Or in a black moment kind of mood.

It seems like the perfect time to write a chapter or a scene with a malevolent feel to it. To brandish a weapon and use it. To bring down a building. To tap into my inner villain. To up the terror ante.

For the next meeting of my writing group, the Saskatchewan Romance Writers (SRW), we are posting 500 word snippets up on our private blog for critique. I chose a scene involving an attack on a thirteen-year-old boy and a teacher. At one point the villain threatens to cut off the boy’s finger. In the grand scheme of terror-induced practices it might seem pretty tame, but I cringed at the thought of including it. The thought of anything bad happening to a child makes me shudder. That’s when I knew I had to include it. Today, with the thunder and lightening clanging and flashing around me, I’m wondering if the scene is scary enough?

It’s harder to be vicious on a warm, sun-drenched day. Frankly, the advent of spring makes it hard to write period. On those coveted sunny days I want to be outside. The task of raking the lawn is preferable to sitting at my desk writing. Maybe sunshine is conducive to penning long, lazy scenes of lovemaking, or scenes filled with sassy dialogue, or recording a sudden bout of character self-discovery.

But what if you have to write a sunny scene on a rainy day? What if you’re not in the mood to write period? Here are some natural mood improving ideas: buy yourself a gift (so far so good); listen to music (check); and smell something (I picked my Deserving Thyme Soy Candle). All credible and legal ways to improve your mood. They also listed exercising, blah, blah, and not eating junk food blah, blah, as ways to improve mood. I chose the ideas I could work with.

Finally: Laugh

What do you get when you cross a chicken with a pit bull?

Just the pit bull.

My rainy day playlist includes:
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper by the Blue Oyster Cult
Fallen by Evanescence
The Dark Night of the Soul by Loreena McKennitt
She’s My Kind of Rain by Tim McGraw
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan

What’s I’m working on:
Blog post
Revising scene with too much internal dialogue and no actual dialogue. Actually going well :D
Critiques for fellow SRW members

What I’m snacking on:
STASH Premium Earl Grey Black Tea

What’s your mood today? Is it affecting your writing? What are you listening to or snacking on? Do you have a quick fix mood enhancer to jump start your writing process?


Nayuleska said...

The pit ball joke is funny!

I agree in part with the sunny day syndrome. If it's sunny, it makes me in the mood to do anything. Unfortunately my Muse tends to need a bit more poking in nice weather. She prefers to daydream. Once she gets going, she's fine.

Thoroughly approve of Evanescence on the rainy day play list.

Currently listening to: Heartbreak Every Moment by HIM. It is on constant repeat at the moment, for being perfect mood setter for my wip.

I've just had breakfast of toast and cream cheese. Favourite writing snack at the moment - dates!

And I don't like I'm pretty glad I'm in England where it mostly just rains.

DebH said...

love the pit bull joke.

it is more difficult to write on a sunny day because the day beckons you to go DO something ACTIVE (let's face it, you don't work up a sweat writing... mentally maybe, but not physically).

i do like your mood altering suggestions for writing "sunny" material on rainy days. i suppose alternately, you could do some mood altering for writing doom and gloom on a sunny day as well. my initial thoughts... blacken the room and get it as dark as possible and write by the light of your computer screen.

anyhow, i really enjoyed your post. it made me think about how and when i do write and how what i'm feeling at the time affects my character's emotional development in the manuscript as well.

Silver James said...

I can pretty much write rain or shine, indoors or out, sitting in my car at a stoplight (though I wait to pull over before actually committing words to paper). I often use music to set the mood when I hit a roadblock (and the hot shower doesn't work).

A new-to-me artist I love for writing the downer moments is Peter Bradley Adams. I think the name of the album is TRACES.

My old standby for action scenes is the soundtrack to LAST OF THE MOHICANS. I wrote the entire first draft of FAERIE FIRE with that on loop. FATE had a lot of Enya and Loreena McKennit.

At the moment, I'm on my third cup of coffee, listening to the chain saw next door, and about to decide now is a good time to run errands. Hopefully, sawing will have stopped by the time I'm back. Then I have to writewritewrite! (Writing is easy compared to facing the grocery store!)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Ah, so you wrote the post in the last couple days. LOL It's gray and cold down here, as well. Puddles all over the yard mean the gravel roads are muddy and I won't be heading into town anytime soon.

The weather doesn't bother me that much except when there's a thunderstorm and I unplug my computers - just in case. Even running on battery power, I can't write with the lighning flashing and the thunder booming. And yet, I suppose I should because I have one storm scene in my wip that would benefit from 'on-the-scene' reporting.

I'm listening to the wind howl out on the prairie which is 100 ft from my front door.

I'm not snacking on anything because I've lost 13 lbs in the last 5 wks and I love the way my clothes are looser. I may have a banana in an hr or two, though.

To jump start my writing, all I have to do is turn on Google Earth and 'see' what Emma sees. LOL

Good post, Karyn.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Nayuleska. I think that's it - when it's sunny I'm in the mood for anything, too - except sitting in one spot.

I'm off to check out HIM. I've never tried cream cheese on toast, only bagels! Enjoy your dates :)

Raining again today, but no thunderstorm, so everything's good.

Jennie Marsland said...

I'll use that pit bull joke! For a mood lifter, I can always count on chocolate, or a short break to play with my dog. I agree it's harder to write on sunny days, especially in the spring when we're starved for good weather.

Oh, and I love thunderstorms.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Deb. I'm glad it gave you pause to think. It made me think about how mood affects my writing because I write in a sequence. I wish I was good at bopping all over the place, editing here and there, but I'm not. Mainly, I rely on music to create my needed writing mood.

Great suggestion for creating a dark or heavy mood. Close yourself off from the light!

Glad you liked the joke!

Karyn Good said...

Hi Silver. I wish I could write anywhere but it's not a talent I've developed! I took my laptop to a coffee house once and was so distracted by the - squirrel - I didn't get any work done :D

Music helps me focus, too. I put in the earbuds and crank up the volume. Soundtracks would be a very good idea! Especially when you don't need the words but need the feel the movement of the music. Hum...I have to check that out!

I give you that one. Much better to be writing than buying groceries. shudder

Karyn Good said...

Hi Anita. Yep, I was writing yesterday morning. Never thought to unplug anything, though. Oops!
I love the on-the-scene reporting line. Hopefully, the thunderstorms and prairie wind storms are behind us.

I love the Google Earth idea! That would definitely put you in the right frame of mind!

Congrats on the 13 lbs!! That's awesome. Almonds are very healthy. For myself, I'm going to try Nayuleska's snack suggestion of dates.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Jennie. How could I forget chocolate! It's decadent, rich, creamy... Darn, now I have to run out and get some.

Getting up and moving around is always a good thing. Get everything going. And, yes there's nothing better than getting outside after being cooped up inside for the winter!

May the thunder and lightning head your way ;)

Anita Mae Draper said...

I love almonds and dates.

The almonds are okay at 7 cal apiece, but just a couple dates and I'd be running to the bathroom. They have that 'prune' effect on me. LOL

Hey wait... it would make me lose weight faster. Hahaha.

Joanne Brothwell said...

Mood boosters are a topic that is a huge part of my work life, and to talk about it would feel too much like running a session of "Battling the Blues" with my clients. So I'll skip it.

I want to write no matter what it's like outside, which maybe points to something about me that's a little off...?

I listen to soundtracks from movies of the same genre as my book to keep that feeling thrumming through me, always just below skin level.

Thanks for the post Karyn. Looking forward to the meeting and hopefully meeting you in person. (By the way I LOVE your snippet!) *gushes*

Helena said...

You've made me think about what influences me and my writing, Karyn, and I have the feeling that it's scattered, never the same stimulus.

Here's how it works for me:

I love a dark and stormy atmosphere, makes me want to cocoon. I am not affflicted with cabin fever so life during a prairie winter is grand.

I also love a sunny day, whatever the task I can tackle it with energy. The task can be anything - writing, reading a book, maybe even housework. (ha)

I am more affected by internal factors than external. So if my Muse is asleep somewhere deep inside of me, too bad. I don't use music to accompany my writing. I do find that the specific place that I have created in the upstairs gable seems to tell my Muse it's needed at the keyboard. So maybe, like real estate, it's all location, location, location. Having said that, inspiration can strike, like lightning, anywhere, any time, under any circumstances.

I like Anita's idea of Google Earth to take me to my story location. It would help me to 'be there' which is very important when I write.

Also like Anita -- keep me away from stuff like chocolate and Werther's (my secret addiction!). Strong coffee is my potion.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

We didn't get any storming up here yesterday, but tons of rain. I loved it! Maybe it's my West Coast blood, but I adore a good long day of rain. The sound, the quality of light, it's marvelous.

Definitely affects my writing though. I think I'm naturally inclined to get a bit more long, contemplative, and poetic in my writing to begin with. It often takes a few paragraphs before I slip into the tone of the appropriate scene again. I can write in pretty much any weather or mood, as long as I actually make the effort. When things are bad, it's a good retreat from troubles, and I always wind up making things much worse for my characters in the process -- always a good thing.

For mood boosting, I go for tea, hot baths, light, and carbs (toast, pasta, bagels, ahhh). For catching a specific mood (say a thunderstorm on a sunny day) I try to shut out whatever is conflicting with it and really dig into the details (such as recalling frigid cold in the middle of summer, a heat wave in a f-ing chilly house), especially the emotional details. Empathy is pretty hard-wired in us, so as soon as we have someone's emotional response to react to, it makes the leap easier. If I can do it in the wrong mood/time/weather first, then I know it'll be convincing for others later on, who may be reading it out of mood or season.

My rainy day playlist is usually good moody things that get me thinking about the WIP. Evanescence (which I'm going to be writing to today, thanks to your mention), bits and pieces of Loreena McKennit, Nightwish, Sarah McLachlan's Possession (my antag's theme, hah), etc. Almost every day in the book is a rainy day though, since their autumn climate is similar to Victoria :p

Snacking on: pistachios, chocolate rabbit, Murchie's Queen Victoria Tea (I never knew smoky and sweet could be so amazing together)

Working on: blog post, SRW lead article, critiques, WIP, other critiques, other critique, writing exercise... I could go on. It won't get done today :)

Karyn Good said...

Hey Joanne. You're absolutely perfect. I'd love to be in the mood to write whatever the weather! But I have to admit it's a much bigger challenge to plant my butt in that chair during the summer months.

I think it's a wonderful idea to listen to soundtracks, especially ones of a specific genre. I'm going to have to look into some soundtracks from romantic comedies.

Aw, thanks. You're making me blush. And weather permitting I'll be at the meeting. Looking forward to officially meeting you :D

Karyn Good said...

Hi Helena. You sound like you take everyday for what it is and work it to your advantage. I love the idea of a writing gable so maybe it is location, location, location.

Anita's Google Earth suggestion is wonderful. I would never have thought of it.

Oooh, Werther's! LOVE those. You're right, best not to go there because who can stop at one!

Karyn Good said...

Hey Hayley. I can relate to having to dig in some days and actually make the effort. I also liked what you said about tapping into our sense of empathy and searching out that real gut wrenching response. The writing always comes easier when you're in deep POV.

I'm off to check out Nightwish and listen to Possession.

Murchie's Queen Victoria Tea sounds devine. Where do you get it?

Happy writing and critiquing!

Janet said...

I'm like you, Karyn - sunny weather shows up and all I want to do is sit outside with a cold beer and a good book. Not too bad of a way to spend a day, but if you're a writer, you're supposed to be Butt in Chair everyday.

Mood enhancing music - Momma Mia (and the movie if I'm really needing a pick me up).

Mood enhancing food - chocolate.

Mood enhancing beverage - wine.

(Are we still talking about writing?) As for what I'm working on: Next instalment for Mickey's Story (yikes), Blog post for Friday (double yikes), getting ready to move (boxes to be packed), The Day Job (yuck). I need all the enhancing I can get!

Say 'Hi' to everyone at the meeting - miss you guys.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karyn,
I'm back at work today, trying to catch up. We haven't had any rain here at all. It's warm and windy right now.

Weather doesn't affect me so much as far as writing goes, but other things going on in my life certainly do. Maybe I should go out and buy a giant leftover Easter bunny! I need a mood booster.

Speaking of being in the mood, what do you do to be "in the mood" to write a love scene? I find them the hardest things to write. I've heard some writers prepare with soft music, candles, etc. but frankly, that just makes me feel silly! I'd be interested to hear what other writers do.

As far as snacks go, at the moment there are a plethora of goodies just outside my office door. We had a Board meeting with lunch, so there's cookies, chips, cheezies (my personal favorite) not to mention the pizza and chicken skewers. But I'm being good. Mostly.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Janet. ABBA, chocolate and WINE. check. I wonder what would happen if I drank wine while writing? Nothing good.

For a mood enhancer, you could watch the youtube video of the discussion between an agent and the writer. I never get tired of that one!

Good luck with the move. Stock up on the wine. Looking forward to reading both Friday blog posts, no pressure or anything! Damn day job. May I suggest a massage!!

Will pass on greetings!

Helena said...

Glad you're back, Jana. I find writing love scenes difficult, too. I think next time I have one to do, I will try a glass of wine and some romantic music (in spite of what I said a few minutes ago!). That would be before I started writing. When I write, I need complete silence and total concentration for the imagination to kick in. Good luck!

Karyn, I forgot to compliment you on the wonderful thunderstorm picture which I'm assuming you took. We had a few rumbles here, but mostly rain that went on and on. When I heard the rumbles, I did what Anita did. Unplugged. My laptop had frozen at the beginning of Hayley's post on bad boys which was why I didn't comment on what was one of my favourite topics! (We can talk later, Hayley)

Karyn Good said...

Hi Jana. You go out and buy the biggest Easter bunny you can find and chow down. You deserve it!

In the mood for love scenes? That's a very good question!! I have a candle in my office but I'm too scared to light it for fear of burning down the house, so that's out. Personally, I listen to music to get in the mood and my favorite is Johnny Reid's Dance With Me. Other favorites are Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley. Of course, I have a thing for male country music singers, so that helps :D

I've also picked up a favorite author and reread a love scene to help get me in the right head space. Because you're right, if there's ever a time a writer needs to be in the right mood it's for writing love scenes, at least for me. What say everyone else?

I LOVE cheezies, too. So very Canadian!

Karyn Good said...

Hi Helena. I think having one, or twoish, glasses wine before writing a love scene might just do the trick. It's worth a try!

Thanks for the compliment, my son was the photographer.

Janet said...

Am I the only one craving Cheezies right now?

Glad to see you back, Jana.

And I do write under the influence (well, not that far under) - sometimes it's exactly what Muse needs to open up and not worry about the 'business' side of writing.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Hi Karyn, checking in late. I got my Queen Victoria tea from Murchie's Tea and Coffee in Victoria (, but I sure hope I can get it elsewhere when this pack runs out! If not, I'll be beseeching my mom to mail some out to me soon. Perhaps I can get her to mail me two packs, and I'll save one for you :)

RE Nightwish, I think I've posted some of their songs up here before. I'd recommend checking out both new and old (different lead singers) as their styles vary a lot. If you like Evanescence, I think you'd like them though. Also Tarja Turunen's solo album (the first lead singer, who left the band). All a great mix of operatic instrumentals and rocking guitar :D