I’ve heard interviews with songwriters who have complained that they are unable to write good songs when they are in a good mood. There’s something about being in a dark mood which inspires the creation of their best songs. I’ve heard similar things about comedians and other entertainers as well — that they do their best work when they are feeling less content with their world or their lives.
When I was younger, I found this to be true about my own writing: the worse my mood was, the funnier my comedic pieces were; the sadder I was, the stronger and more heartfelt the poetry was. In my angsty teenage years, the only dry spells in my writing occurred when I was reasonably happy. Now that I’m old(er), I find the opposite to be true. In fact, I’ve found lately that when I’m in a bad mood, I can’t write anything coherent at all. I’m stunned if I even get a word or two down on the page in that state of mind. I’m not sure why this has changed. Perhaps it is as simple as “adult problems” being tougher than “teenage problems”, but I think it is more than that. I think the issue is more that when I was younger and in a bad mood I was more willing to use the act of writing as a form of therapy. The words flowing from my grumbling, churning mind, down through my arm and hand and onto the page was a safe way to get the emotions out and sometimes release that negative energy. I was more willing or more able to sit down and just start writing something spontaneously back then, too, which may have also been a reason why it worked.
But today I don’t do this. I can’t remember the last time I opened a Microsoft Word document or a paper notebook and successfully just started writing on a whim. Usually I end up staring at that blank page and getting into a worse mood than I was in when I started. When I was younger I could sit there for an hour staring at the blank page and the words would eventually start to flow, but now I sit there and within a few minutes I give up, throw the notebook to the side of the room or slam the laptop shut. Am I simply less patient now than I was? Are my bad moods worse now than they were? Am I simply falling prey to the combination of the bad moods and the looming to-do list?
I don’t have an actual answer to these questions and I don’t think there actually *is* a definitive answer to them. Most likely, the answer lies in some complicated combination of all of the above, in addition to distinct differences in weather patterns and the temperature of the coffee in my mug. But I do think it’s an interesting thing to look at and to introspectively analyze, so I’m going to throw it out to each of you: How does your mood impact your writing? Do you find the content, style or quality of your writing to be different based on the mood you were in at the time? Do you struggle to write if your mood is particularly good or bad? Let’s discuss this in the comments.