It’s no secret that writing is most effective when you’re channeling some kind of emotion. Whether it’s joy, anxiety, or pain, words have more impact when they’re powered by a strong underlying feeling.

I don’t know about you guys, but my go-to emotion is sadness… Maybe because I listened to the Cure a lot when I was younger. But it’s definitely my go-to emotion as a lot of my writing is fueled by feelings of despair and regret.


When I was young, my emo fuel came from my feelings of isolation in school, the alienation of not completely fitting into either of the two countries I was raised in, and of course, the epic heartache from The One That Got Away. These days, it comes from the turmoil of giving up animation, the helplessness when I was unemployed with a baby on the way, and the clichéd feelings of abandonment due to an inattentive parent.

I really believe in this too. When I started writing as a kid, I wrote screenplays driven by what I thought movies were supposed to be about. It was the action and drama of saving the world, based on clichés and other stuff I’ve seen in other movies. Quite frankly, I didn’t have anything worth saying so needless to say, my writing was really shallow and boring.

Over time, as I had more life experiences, I found that I had more things to express, like deeper feelings of regret and loneliness. I started channeling this into my writing, and my work had more substance because of it. The sadder I was, the more I wanted to write.

I kept diaries back then (sadness made me write more, remember?), and whenever I needed to get into that emo zone these days I would read back and borrow and paraphrase the raw emotional words into whatever I need to write. Of course, I’d probably listen to The Cure a lot too.

Pain and sadness is my fuel, but I’m sure you guys have other emotions that you call upon to. Please share, and let me know what inspires you to write. I’d especially like to hear from someone who’s power emotion is happiness, the polar opposite of mine!

About Drew

I love my kids, my wife movies and video games (in no particular order). Sometimes my dog too, but he likes to stink up my pillow these days.

2 responses »

  1. Hi Drew … I’ll trade your Cure for Depeche Mode. Whereas I used to channel my darker, more negative feelings (of which there were a lot) into my writing, I guess in an effort to drain the last bit of drama from them, I now find myself channeling my humor as a way of dealing with the world, or crazy stuff that has happened in my life that may have left me bruised and scarred.

    Just yesterday I went down to my favorite cafe to write about some crappy stuff that’s been going on lately, and how crappy it has me feeling, and I wound up writing a hilarious essay about the drama-filled guy behind the counter, which led into an equally humorous discussion on the many meanings of the word bogus, and how U2 can be bogus but Springsteen is not, and R.E.M. always tread that fine line between the two, even they always wound up being more pretentious than bogus.

    I find that channeling my humor makes me feel a lot better about things, and I like reading the end results a lot more. Other people like reading them, too. I find people are more receptive to laughing with someone than reading a diatribe about how crappy their lives are.

    Come to think of it, I was listening to Depeche Mode as I writing!

    • Drew says:

      You’re so right about this. There is enough sadness out there without us adding onto it, so it’s good to spread some humor instead.

      I’ll have to go find this post of yours!

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