Last week I snuck off to a matinee with my husband, enjoyed a laughter-filled dinner with favorite writing pals, and two fun people joined our writing group. Our family went to ice cream day at the State Fair, I got the laundry done (even folded!), and for some miraculous reason my house stayed clean. And I still had long, uninterrupted writing time.
So how was I going to deepen all the rejection, pain, and sorrow my character experiences in Chapter Sixteen? I sat in my sunny living room trying to channel despair. Yeah–not happening.
To the diaries! I’ve written in my journal almost every day since my early teen years. Sure, I’ve recorded a lot of boring, ordinary days, but when the tough stuff happens, the words flow and flow and flow.
So which volume to read? My sixteen-year-old self’s angst (my character is almost sixteen)? No, I went for recent rejection. Mostly because I knew I could find some deep pain in the pretty yellow journal with flowers and butterflies embossed on the front.
I sat on my front porch in the sunshine, my cat winding around my legs, sipping tea, and jotting down descriptions from a recent painful emotional episode in my life. Chapter Sixteen, here I come!
Writing always makes me feel better (I filled an entire two-hundred page journal during my daughter’s spine surgery). But it’s also a record, not just of events in my life, but of the emotional ups and downs. Reading about the fear I felt before college–will my life finally begin for real?–reads almost the same as the years I spent nurturing young children–will I ever feel like myself again?
Human emotion is fairly consistent. Rejection pretty much feels the same at sixteen as it does decades later (kind of a bummer, but true).
So that’s my revision tip this week–keep a journal. It’s never too late to start! Record your thoughts and emotions so you can tap into that deep stuff later–because sometimes life is as wonderful as eating four scoops of ice cream before dinner at the State Fair.