Does mood affect your writing?

Do you write differently depending on your mood? Will a low mood produce sombre stories or can you rise above how you feel and write comedy in the depths of sadness, or tragedy in the heights of joy?

Common wisdom goes that if you approach your craft professionally mood should not be a factor. ‘Check your self at the door. What you write is not about you, it is about the writing.’

Me, I am often profoundly affected by how I feel when I write. Maybe it’s because I’m a relative newcomer. With time it could change. I don’t think so but it might. It seems that who you are and how you react to the world around you affects how you write.

How do get in the mood to write? Do you sit down, take a breath and begin? Do you listen to some music first? Do you read back a few pages or more to get ‘in the zone’ then start?

For me, it varies. Most often it’s music. I can’t write with music on but if I listen to music before writing it ‘primes’ me for the mood I want. Recently I was feeling a little tired but good and raring to go. Then I listened to Eric Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1, a low-key piano piece, and my mood dropped, within seconds, through the floor. I felt down, sad. And I couldn’t face writing the brighter piece of fiction I had prepared to begin on. Sure, I can have extreme reactions to certain music, up or down, but there are times when a piece of music takes you completely out of the space you were in moments before.

Music can be a cleanser. You’ve had a difficult day but you play something and you feel a little better. Does this happen to you? Do you use music this way? Or do you have some other activity like walking, running, reading a favourite poem, or chatting to a friend?

Some people say that they can write with kids shouting all around them. Others can write with bombs dropping nearby. Some need quiet.

I am one of those who needs quiet, to begin at least. Once I begin and the story has me, when it is using me to tell itself, then I am hard to disturb. But that starting point, those first moments, are crucial to crossing from the world around me into the fiction world where stories live to be borne forth by the writer’s hands. Like moving from wakefulness into sleep, going from this world into the writing world can be difficult or easy. It so often depends on how you feel right before.

Writing is so often an isolated process it must vary with every personality, influence, or issue.

Are you the cool pragmatist who can treat the process of writing as work, creative work but work even so? Or are you one who desires or needs certain conditions?

Does mood affect your writing?