When real life brings extra stresses, it’s tempting to pour all of it into my writing.
And this is fine if my story isn’t complete as it is; as in, when I have vague characters and ideas, but no real plot. This gives me something to fill out the story with. It can be cathartic and healing, and give my nebulous story heart.
This is not so helpful when I actually do have a set plot and already designed characters. They have to act the way they are created, not take on my pain or stress; they’re supposed to have their own. And while I always put part of myself into the writing, putting in everything without restraint can destroy the story. It becomes a journal for me, but a derailment for the story.
I have to fight this with many of my stories. I keep trying to turn the MCs (Main Characters) into carbon copies of myself, and it frustrates me, as I want to create the individuals in my mental picture of the story, not merely paste myself in. I have troubles with this especially during NaNoWriMo, as there’s no quality control when I’m trying to push out more words than I can think about at the time.
One way I’ve managed to avoid this is to avoid the first person. I love writing in the first person. It feels natural to me and incredibly easy. But all too often I end up really writing ‘me’ instead of the MC. I write what I would do, and not what the MC would do. So I force myself to write third person. It’s harder because I ‘see’ the stories usually from the perspective of one character, but tiny bit of distance this gives me is so worth it.
I also always, ALWAYS, use an outline. It’s rarely very detailed, but it’s enough for me to be able to take a step back and get an idea of where I’m headed. It keeps me from being derailed off by my emotions. There may actually be points in the story where my personal stress can be useful, but I have to make sure it’s there in the first place.
And the final ‘trick’ I use; I stop whatever story I’m working on and create something that I can pour out my stress into (though during NaNoWriMo, it gets counted toward the final word goal). Sometimes it’s a long email to friends, sometimes it’s a new story. Whatever form it takes, it empties out the pain and I can go back to regular writing in a day or so.