Isn't she pretty? So her second book is coming out soon so I'm hosting a stop on her "Pathogen Tour" - more details there. She stopped by the blog to talk about mood writing and how to avoid letting depressing scenes keep you down. Take it away baby:
“Mood Writing and Why Patient Zero Stands out from the Zombie Horde”
Ooh, I like it here. It's all comfy and stuff. Can I have a cuppa tea? No? Darn.
Hey, welcome to the second stop on the Pathogen: Patient Zero blog tour. I am still Kai Kiriyama, although I feel like I need to be someone else later. I'll figure that out on my own time. The Madame Writer of Wrongs has been so kind as to let me lounge on her fabulous settee here and play with all sorts of lovely writing implements while I'm visiting. She's a very elegant hostess.
The lovely Madame has asked me to talk to you about how writing affects your mood and why my book Pathogen: Patient Zero is different from all those other zombie novels out there.
I'm gonna do things backwards though. Let's work our way through the horde before I talk about how much my writing actually affects my mood.
We know that most zombie books are X-hundred pages and most of the time it's a lot of gore and murder mayhem in the zombie apocalypse. Zero isn't like that. Zero is the first in a trilogy. Zero is completely encapsulated in the very beginning. In fact, Zero is the beginning. This is a look at how the zombie apocalypse started in my world. This is a semi-YA coming-of-age sort of novel that also starts the zombie apocalypse and sets up many more pages of blood-soaked zombie mayhem.
It's a character study and a look at the way humans react in different situations.
Talking about it is gonna make me cry again.
Did I mention that I cried a lot when I wrote this book?
(Perfect segue, Kai!)
Normally I wouldn't buy the whole “mood writing” stuff that floats around in some forums, but it really is true. I didn't think that writing a fictional story would affect me as badly as it did, but I cried almost daily while I wrote Patient Zero. This was a difficult book for me to write on several levels. I had challenged myself to write it in first person, which made the whole story much more personal. I was referring to my characters as “I” and everything was happening to “me” as opposed to everything happening to “Zero.” It brought a level of intimacy that I don't think you can get when you write in third person.
Your mood is really affected by your writing and vice versa.
If I'm depressed I can't write happy or love scenes without it sounding full of sarcasm and hate. It's the same with being remarkably happy. Although, I do find that going from happy to depressed is far easier than the other way around. It's funny, because happy is such a powerful emotion and positivity is so much stronger than negativity but it only takes one character's death to ruin your perfectly good mood.
Mood writing is a difficult thing to master, I'm nowhere near being a master at it, but there's a few things that you can do to help set up the mood for your scene and to help get you in the mood for your writing.
The biggest thing I can tell you to do is to have a distraction for when you're writing those horrible dark scenes.
Most of Zero was written in between crying sessions. It was very hard for me to get out of the depression and funk that writing this book had put me in. I'm a sensitive person overall. I cry if you cry, even if I'm not sad for the same reason or am unaffected by whatever it is that's making you cry. Seeing other people hurt hurts me, too. Sympathy pain is a very real thing, and I suffer from it immensely.
When you get writing those dark and depressing things, be sure to limit yourself. Give yourself an hour and when those 60 minutes are up, get up, walk away as fast as you can, and go and do something that makes you happy. I don't care if it's looking at cat .gifs or if it's shooting aliens in Halo. Just get up and walk away. Center yourself. Recharge. Get that whole scary, depressing blackness out of your mind. You're not writing it. You don't need to think about it until the next hour you sit and write. It will be helpful for you in the long run.
Have someone to talk to. Talk about anything and everything. If you need to vent about the torture scene you just wrote, make sure that whoever you have to talk to is aware that you're writing a fictional piece and that they are willing to talk and debrief with you after. Don't just call up your mom and be like “hey mom, today I killed a guy after torturing him for information for six hours.” That's a one way ticket to get on the FBI's watch list. And also a really good way to scare your mom...
Understand that these are feelings that you're gonna have and prepare yourself for the harsh reality. Prepare yourself for these negative feelings and just be ready to accept them. I wasn't ready for how badly writing ZERO was gonna affect me and I fell into a serious depression. I cried every day as I wrote this. I felt so guilty. I wanted to apologize. I think I did apologize about a hundred times. I even considered a rewrite.
Own your feelings and accept them, but don't linger. It's hard, but once you get through it, you'll be stronger and so will your story.
Good luck, fellow writers! Lemme know in the comments if you do anything to prepare yourselves for writing certain moods/scenes! Do you drink a lot of coffee or do cardio to get your endorphins up before writing a happy scene? Do you light candles and dress in your prettiest clothes or lingerie before writing romantic date and/or love scenes? Do you eat a raw steak and paint your face with blood before writing battle scenes? I wanna know!