Writing is an emotional thing. Duh. Writing connects writer and reader in many ways, as it creates a typological space for unheard and oppressed voices, puts life’s normalities on the spot, or leads us far far away from them. It can be the solace for a writer’s soul; it’s simultaneously an outlet and letting people in. It’s shouting a story from the top of your exhausted lungs, whispering a seductively gloomy poem, flashing fiction beyond objectivity.
Recently, I’ve noticed that my best – and by that, I mean my most honest – writing comes from a place of brimming emotions. The most productive, I find, is fury. No doubt sadness and joy can be excellent motivators as well, but they’re not as fiery, not as ardent. An emotion like sadness slows me down. I get too caught up in the sensation, in the crying, in the curling up, in the personal damage. I am held up with feeling it too much. Sure, anger can hold up as well when you’re too busy planning a revenge plot, but that could also be the plot of your next short story. I dare to say, anger might even lead the way out of writer’s block.
But where do I draw it from? Besides people-directed anger, it’s anger at the world, or the state of the world: blatant social injustices, wounds of all kinds, chronic deception and ignorance. It’s rooted in unrightful shaming and blaming, corporeal and emotional negligence, inequity, consumerism, inequality, and so much more.
I never realised how furious I was until I started therapy to treat anxiety and depression. Naturally, as a female, I was oppressed because fury isn’t an emotion that girls are ‘supposed’ to show – or have, for that matter. But there is a lot of that in me. I always mistook it for sadness, modeled it into distress, dressed it up like a doleful little doll, gaslit myself. But allowing anger to surface can be such a relief and set off that avalanche of motivation.
Aggression is one of these inherent survival emotions. It means life. Unlike depression, numbing and toning down the world, aggression makes us move, makes us want to pursue something. It’s a more tangible emotion. It’s clarifying because it helps to create boundaries whereas repeatedly suppressing and swallowing anger can be harmful to our body and mind.
The feeling that connects depression and aggression is helplessness, extradition, powerlessness. Writing furiously then, raising awareness to an issue, speaking my mind, forming my obscure emotions into textual signifiers, crafting a voice, gives me the feeling that I can change something. It is in a way the opposite of helplessness, at least it feels like that. And heck, if only one person reads the result, it’ll still make a difference to me.
There are so many unheard stories, issues that need to see the grey, diffused light of the world and unbar a spectrum of narratives. I admit, in the long run, working on a novel or a book for example, rage might prove rather exhausting because keeping it up all the time is unhealthy for our bodies and minds. That continuous cortisol-buzz just isn’t healthy, but that’s also not the reality of writing a novel. Implemented in writing habits, anger can become quite the useful tool and it can be the fuel to keep writing those 50,000 words.
The beauty in some anger lies in the uncontrollability of it. I don’t mean that violent uncontrollability, but the vigour that vibrates through the fingers when pacifists like me type a little harder, louder and faster into their keys. The issue with rage in writing is that anger-fueled writing needs to be constructive, and there still needs to be some kind of logic or structure to ensure understanding by a reader. So maybe go ahead and write that angry stream-of-consciousness down and then let it cool down, so that your uncoordinated, chaotic thoughts and emotion-clouded judgements can transform into a touching piece of uncensored art.