Getting in the Mood: Part One
Have you ever wondered how your favorite authors are able to write what they write? What gets them in the mood to create these wonderful works? We have, so when Podiumdavis came to us suggesting a tip on getting in the mood for writing we thought this would be a great idea; not only just to be able to feel what an authors characters are feeling, but to really set the mood for the story. You can read his thoughts on this in his blog post here.
While we could have probably come up with a pretty good tip on this, we thought it might be better to take this tip to some of the authors on site. With that in mind, we contacted a host of authors and got enough replies to be able to do a two part tip. Today we are bringing you Part 1 of "Getting in the Mood." Enjoy!
Hosted Author: C James
Setting the mood is critical. Most stories (except short stories) have many moods; it varies from scene to scene, and sometimes within a scene.
There are surely many ways of doing this. However, all I can do is recount the methods I use (Caveat: I may well be wrong).
First, I envision the scene itself. All else stems from that. If it's a place, such as a bar, I envision the bar, and then describe it. That puts the reader in the scene. For the characters, I try to put myself in their heads; what would they be feeling? Is it a high-tension meeting, such as between two hired killers? Or two strangers meeting with possible romantic entanglements in the air? Those are two radically different atmospheres, and the scene has to fit. So too do the characterizations, as relayed by dialog structure, body language, and vernacular.
Getting in the mood for writing. Now that's a hard one to answer. For me, writing is recreation, so usually it's easy. Sometimes, especially when facing a plot conundrum, I find myself blocked. However, just sitting down, opening the document file, and starting to work on it help greatly. Another method I use is, if blocked, I just work on something else for a while; a different chapter, or a different story.
Promising Author: Dark
After the last 9ish months of working 12-16 hour days, I have little energy for getting "in the mood" to write. Currently, it's more like avoiding writing until I just can't take it anymore. If you've read my writing tip on dealing with plot bunnies, then you've probably guessed that I have a few. On a scale from one to ten, with one being plot bunnies nibble on my toes occasionally and ten being plot bunnies nibble on my toes all the dang time, then I'm a ten. And if you know anything about plot bunnies, then you know that they multiply like rabbits. Pretty soon, that one plot bunny is ten and then a hundred and before you now it, you're wading knee-deep through the pesky creatures. Don't forget: they're still nibbling.
My plot bunnies love ambushes. I'll be teaching or working on things to teach or grading papers and out of nowhere ouch! Plot bunnies. You can punt them out of the way, but they keep coming back for more. I try to ignore them and they just come up with more creative ways to get my attention. Eventually, there's no further recourse but to write down their sadistic, kinky, little thoughts. A sentence here, a sentence there, just to take the edge off so that I can concentrate on what I really should be doing.
Now, even before all this craziness, I never really had a set schedule for writing. My schedule has been too random and crowded. Now, on the few days when I have sat down and said, "okay, today I am going to write," I do tend to find a quiet, comfortable spot with no music or TV, no food or drinks, and no distractions (ie a time when I know that no one shall disturb me for awhile). Sometimes I can get right into writing and sometimes not. I don't stress about it. I suppose if I were to ever make my living by writing that I would have to learn how to be better at getting "in the zone." Until then, I'll just take a weed-whacker to my bunny problem.
Author: Yettie One
Personally for me I am not sure that there is ever a specific mood to write. Generally I have to be disciplined enough to set aside the time to actually take up the task of writing and then the mood in a way seems to set itself. That might sound counter intuitive as if I put no effort in preparing what I am about to write, or do not consider what I am going to write about, but the truth of the matter lies in that there is no special process that I follow in choosing when to write.
When I write the basic idea of a story is already set in my minds eye. I write at a time when the general thoughts, feelings and actions of the main character/s has worked itself out and the central theme for that specific time within the story is clearly established in my mind. It is then a matter of focusing in on the chosen person from whose perspective I write and try to imagine things from their point of view, for example, what might they choose to say, or how would they see things, and then it is really the writing that sets the mood.
I often find that as I write, the excitement of the story builds and very often sets the pace, direction and theme of the story itself, and while I may have had a general idea when I started, it is common for me to find that my mood has been inspired by the writing process itself, and the finished result is markedly different from what I may have imagined when I started out. So I guess for me, it is the discipline of actually committing to write in the first place and the fact that I am actually writing already that in itself sets the mood for my writing.
I like to have music on as I write - I know some people will violently disagree with this approach! I choose pieces that are still, calm, gentle, not distracting. It helps me to cut out disruptions and get in the zone. I tend to write quickly, really feeling the moment and letting the words flow - it's a kind of dream-like, hypnotic state for me. More specifically, I like to have a strong sense of the place where my action is happening. And I tend to engage fully with the feelings of my main character, becoming them whilst I write, even if they are very different to me. My characters tend to emerge from an aspect of me, all of them: men, women, gay, straight - though I don't seem to have written any entirely straight characters for a while! But they are also not me, and I enjoy making the imaginative leap of empathizing with them whilst I write as or about them.
The emotions, desires, needs, wishes of the characters are what tend to drive my narratives, and I try hard to be in tune with them. I might play over scenarios whilst driving, walking, running, before I get to typing, so that when I'm actually writing, I am ready to go, ready to flow. There are costs with this speedy, in the zone approach - I'll never write so precisely as the best writers here. But I find writing like this very enjoyable, and GA has given me a chance to get some lovely feedback to my lonely tappings too.
THANK you to all of the authors who replied and helped us understand how they get in the mood. Stay tuned to next Thursday when we will have our part 2!