Writers often get classified with other artistic types as being overly emotional and overly sensitive.
And usually, no one says it to you as if it’s a good thing.
We writers seem to sometimes be at the mercy of the world around us as if we are leaves being buffeted in a strong wind, and events, people, and emotions can have a strong impact on us.
Being sensitive can have its drawbacks, but it can also have some major benefits for us as creative types.
We are tuned in to more sensory detail, and it can be a much richer experience just looking about us. For example, leaves aren’t just green, they are a colorful cacophony of shade and hue and texture ranging from soft minty spring green to the mature bloom of summer. Sensitive people can have higher ability to discriminate shade and color, and we can use that extra detail to fuel descriptiveness in our writing.
Sometimes this can work against us; I nearly came to blows with a my husband once when a sweater he kept calling “blue” was so freaking clearly “grey” to me, I couldn’t believe it. Granted, it was a blue-grey, but still grey. I think in terms of shades, he functions in primary colors. We don’t have that sweater any more, either. He now has one in a lovely shade of ecru. Not beige.
Sensitive people also tend to be much more in tune with their inner emotional life than less aware folks. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we understand or can control the turbulence that hits us from time to time, or even that we can put a name to what we feel. But it can sure give us an “in” to developing rich characters that jump off the page, and more importantly, that people can relate to and want to keep coming back for more.
Sensitivity combined with introversion, a trait that describes a lot of writers, can naturally enhance creativity. So no, it’s absolutely fine that you have complex dialogs with fictional characters in your head while you are sitting in a boring meeting or stuck in a dull, crowded party. Just try not to speak them out loud and don’t forget to write them down as soon as you get a chance. And remember to mentally check in at the meeting once in a while.
All that sensitivity can enhance our abilities as writers, but with every benefit comes a caveat.
Sensitive people require more down time to recharge, and soothe those nerves and emotions that can get rubbed raw by all the inputs that come at us at a hundred miles an hour. Don’t ever feel bad or guilty for taking the time to do whatever makes you feel human again, whether it’s going for a long walk alone, listening to music, or anything that works for you.
Other People’s Emotions
Other people’s emotions and actions can really buffet the sensitive person around. Just being around someone in a full on snit can be draining, and it’s tough to recover your equilibrium. We may also find ourselves bending over backwards to accommodate someone else’s mood when it isn’t really our responsibility to make it all better for them. And that can drain the energy we need to do our writing and take care of ourselves. Don’t we all know at least one person who can suck the fun out of birthday cake? Avoid them. Your muse will thank you.
So the next time you find yourself being labeled as “sensitive”, remember overall it’s a good thing. Just remember to spend the time and energy to make that sensitivity work for you rather than against you.
Are you sensitive? Does it work for you or against you? Have you ever thrown away a sweater because you and your husband can’t agree on the color? (Kidding!) But what do you do to keep your head above water when you feel like you’re drowning in input?