These words from Jo Michaels, in her Tough Scenes and Emotional Therapy post, really struck a chord with me.
You often hear about method actors. From Wikipedia: Method acting is any of a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances. Though not all Method actors use the same approach, the "method" in Method acting usually refers to the practice, influenced by Constantin Stanislavski and advocated by Lee Strasberg, by which actors draw upon their own emotions and memories in their portrayals.
Some actors do not use this approach, but it seems to me all writers should. You might not take your characters to the store, to bed, or even to a company picnic. But you rarely leave them behind completely. Without immersing yourself into the mind of the character you've created, the voice will never be as consistent or authentic.
However, I'm not saying you embrace the character so fully that you no longer follow your own conscience or behaviors.
Many said Heath Ledger spiralled into self-destruction after embracing the dark side of the Joker, the character he portrayed in The Dark Knight. Was it method acting taken too far? Many applauded his performance, but clearly it had a devastating effect on his personal life.
When I read emotionally draining books like Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, I often wonder how the writer survived the constant emotional anguish.
Jo Michaels asked a thought-provoking question in the post I mentioned above: When you read or write a very emotional scene, do you take those feelings with you? If so, how do you shake them off after?
I'd love to hear what people think.
For me, I dive into a book and let a different set of characters take me away. But sometimes I just have to embrace the emotions, have a good cry even. I must admit... I have never handled fear well. Maybe that's why I don't write a lot of terrifying scenes.
My writing tends to be equal parts humor and depth. Whenever I've been writing an intense part for too long, I switch to a humor-filled scene to lighten the load.
In Depression Cookies, I had to write a very emotional scene where the main character, a teenager, is visiting a friend in the hospital who is slowly killing herself. I cried every time I sat down with that chapter. But sometimes tears are cathartic.
But don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to get to the next humor-filled scene.
A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update
On Monday, Mom and I (I'm still in North Carolina visiting family) took the girls to Raleigh to buy school clothes. The entire two hour drive back, we discussed possible titles for our Depression Cookies follow-up. Two hours. There's so much to consider. In fact, I think I'll write a post about titles.
We also discussed a cover. Another subject with blog post potential.
I'm on a writing and editing hiatus until school starts. It doesn't make sense to try to force it right now with two weeks to go. But my WIP is never far from my mind. Krista, my main character, is part of me. So much so that my friends say it reeks of Tia.
I'm so excited to jump back on the #teamsprinty bandwagon when the girls go back to school. I hope it's still happening. I might also jump into #wordmongering.
The nice part about taking a break... the building excitement to jump back in. I'm looking forward to it. Hope my fellow ROW80ers are rocking it!