Wednesday, February 7, 2024

How a Writer's Feelings Feed into What We Write

by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

What do you feel?

As writers, we often spend a lot of time digging into a character and their emotions. After all, emotions are an important part of the human experience and the use of them in writing helps readers to identify with a character and what they do.

But we humans often pay little attention to our own emotions.

What we feel—what we express—are like tiny windows into our minds and our hearts. Emotions give us an explanation as to how we think, trauma experiences, and how we interact with other people.

For instance, I have a terrible temper. Not many people have ever seen it—thank goodness!—because it's venomous and vitriolic and lethal. Well, maybe not lethal since I've never killed anyone, even when I'm in a rage. But I've been told it's truly a sight to behold. I really don't know because, when I'm that angry, all I can see is a haze of red mist. Regardless, I have almost no control over it, once I've gotten there.

But the beauty of being that angry is, once I've ridden the roller coaster of the emotion, it opens the door to analysis. Luckily, I have a great psychologist friend who has helped me find the source of my wrath and we've worked through layers and layers of frustration and bad experiences of my childhood. So, over the years, the episodes have become less and less frequent.

That's why the expression of emotions can be so helpful. Of course, blind rage isn't necessarily the best one to start with. But we can use our actions and reactions as guides to look inside ourselves and discover why we do the things we do.

Logic is simply a process in the brain. We are stimulated by an outside sensory vibration and brain cells start to vibrate in resonance. Each brain cell is connected in clusters to millions of other brain cells, all vibrating at the same frequency. We call that being in resonance with the idea working in our brain at that moment. Each of these cells are vibrating with the rest in the cluster, even if some are not as prevalent as another—they are "old memories." Some are classified as good or bad, hurtful or joyous but, ultimately, they are all connected. (I recommend the movie, Inside Out to see a beautiful explanation of how the brain works.)

So, whether we remember it consciously or not, these memories mean something to us. No matter what, we react in the same way as we've always done: I see that (whatever) or smell that (whatever), or hear that (whatever) and my body reacts with a feeling. It's an emotional reaction to something that's not new, even if something new has triggered it. And we may have no idea why. The situation been stored in our brain, probably since early childhood. New triggers and brain cells have been created over the years, adding new impetus to a reaction. They are all triggered by the outside stimulus that stirs up the pot once again. 

We have feelings and, somehow in our bodies or outside world, we express them. Anger, tears, warm feelings of love, nervousness, etc., etc., etc.

So we use logic to deal with it, right? But it may not help because logic leads us right back to the same place we started—our logic is based upon our basic concepts, the ball of interconnected wires in our brain that all vibrate according to what we believe. We think we're thinking but, actually, we're just reacting. Over and over and over. That's why we continue to react in the same way under certain conditions. Over and over and over. 

If your image, for example, is to eat healthy food, then when you open the fridge, there should be healthy food choices inside. We need to make healthy choices at the grocery store. In fact, I have to avoid almost all of the entire middle because those aisles are where, at least in my store, the danger of not meeting your goals lives—I have to shop around the edges. 

Maybe your image is to create healthy relationships in your life. I have a friend who is currently on her fifth marriage and she's really unhappy about the current one. From what she tells me, all five guys are exactly alike. Why does she keep attracting the same type of relationship? 

So, since our brain is both hard-wired and very willing to give us what we say we want, maybe making our images a little clearer and then sticking to them will help. Some ideas:
  • Stop and think about your choices! 
  • Step away from temptation. You don't have to clean out your fridge but it would certainly reduce the "oh, it won't make a difference this one time" excuse. Check those relationships out before you jump in.
  • Take a different approach. Make a list for your groceries and stick to it. Order your food on line so there's less impulse buying. Plan your meals so that you don't get so hungry you'll eat easy things. Don't be in a hurry to get into a relationship. The best ones may be ones that take time to grow.

Ultimately, we can work through our negative emotions and find a better way to live.

How about you? What do you have in your fridge?


Learn more from Sally Hamer, Margie Lawson, Edie Melson and four other amazing writers by attending the “Polishing Your Mirror: Self-Care for Writers” Symposium, March 23-24, 2024. Visit for more info!

Sarah (Sally) Hamer, B.S., MLA, is a lover of books, a teacher of writers, and a believer in a good story. Most of all, she is eternally fascinated by people and how they 'tick'. She’s passionate about helping people tell their own stories, whether through fiction or through memoir. Writing in many genres—mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval history, non-fiction—she has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

A teacher of memoir, beginning and advanced creative fiction writing, and screenwriting at Louisiana State University in Shreveport for over twenty years, she also teaches online for Margie Lawson at WWW.MARGIELAWSON.COM. Sally is a free-lance editor and book coach at Touch Not the Cat Books, with many of her students and clients becoming successful, award-winning authors. 

You can find her at INFO@MINDPOTENTIAL.ORG


  1. Excellent insight, Sarah!! Thank you.

  2. Great post! It is definitely hard to ignore a temptation if it is staring you in the face. Wonderful insight into how our feelings feed into what we write.

  3. Thank you, Sarah, for your post. You make good points. :)

    As a life coach for 25 years, I've encountered people in similar situations. Also, as one with a D.Min. in Christian Counseling, I can say that many of our negative emotions are instigated by demonic spirits who have built strongholds in our souls through trauma. In such cases, deliverance ministry is warranted in order to cast out the demonic spirits permanently.

    Blessings on you! :)