Mood and drama


When I was earning my Master’s degree from the University of Missouri, one of my many writing classes required me to read and write from Julia Cameron’s Right to Write. I liked the book so much that I now require my creative writing students to read particular chapters and to respond to Cameron’s Initiation Tools, in other words, her writing prompts. Our last lesson covered mood and drama.

My students expect me to put forth as much effort as they do, so here I am. Writing about what else? Mood and drama. What can I say?

Well, for one, I can admit I’m guilty as charged.

Mood? Yes. My moods definitely affect my writing.

Drama. Ugg. I can’t stand it. But drama, nevertheless, affects my writing because it always affects my mood. I don’t want to write when there is drama in my life.

For the last two years my life has been an uphill journey similar to what one might find on slippery slope of a Scottish crag. I have always been pretty good at keeping my emotions tucked away. But eventually, a person has to face emotions head on. It’s normal, just not pleasant. And on the worst days, I don’t want to write.

Nay, let me rephrase that. I WANT to write, but I don’t feel like it. I’m not in the mood to write. How many times have you said that, comrades? Julia Cameron challenges her writers to write for ten minutes and then to check their moods.

Writing is kind of like exercising. Maybe writing releases endorphins as does exercise. But then again, so do crises and stress. Back in the day, I used to work with students who got a rush from meeting deadlines. We would stay late and work nonstop until we met deadline.

Not so much anymore. But I do remember what an adrenaline rush feels like.

Writing for me now, however, is more therapeutic and cathartic. It brings about a cleansing, purification. I can release whatever negative emotions I have onto the page, and I feel better. But first I have to get over my “mood.” And the drama.

Cameron says we need our own space to write so that we can shut the door to the world—and the drama—so we can focus on our writing.

Amen. Preach it, sister.

I used to have a closed door at my house, but I moved my writing station to the “music” room. I like the vibe that comes with being surrounded by guitars, a piano and drums. But the room is a thoroughfare to the upstairs and kitchen. And you know what that means. Boy/boys in. Boy/boys out. Lots of noise. Questions. Sometimes hugs. But I’m NEVER too busy for hugs.

Even my warthog Scottish Terrier creates a disturbance with her scratching and scavenging the cat’s food.

But Cameron says, “Keep the drama on the page.” Focus. Focus. Focus.

And then there are the characters in my life. I love me some protagonists. But antagonists? They don’t have to be in the room. They just have to be in my head. They may be relatives, friends, co-workers or acquaintances. It doesn’t matter. Whenever these antagonists antagonize me to the point that I can’t write, it’s time to take a tip from Cameron.

“Keep the drama on the page.” Cameron says personal drama is “creative poison.”

The antidote?

Focus. Focus. And more focus. And three simple words for whoever is driving me nuts—leave me alone.

We have the choice to let other people’s negativity into our life. We must close the door, if not literally, metaphorically, and keep the drama on the page (not in our heads).

Cameron also suggests we write a list of 100 things we love, and every time we feel stressed we pull this list from our pocket and read it. When we do, we’ll settle down in our spirits and think about our blessings instead of the negatives. I won’t indulge myself with 100 on this blog, but I will give you 10 if you will give me 10.


  1. My guitars
  2. Horses
  3. Ireland
  4. St. Patrick’s Day
  5. Sunrises
  6. Coffee shops
  7. Blues
  8. Mosaics
  9. Candles
  10. Campfires

Feeling stressed? Want to keep the drama on the page and out of your life? Take a moment and write down ten things you love.

10 thoughts on “Mood and drama

  1. Mood and Drama… Until recently, mood was never an issue for me. Almost always happy and eternally optimistic. I suppose those still describe me, but hormones can be evil at my age. Finding that some days I’d like to just shove people out of my way or tell them to go hug a cactus. Anyway…. 😀 Ten things I love :
    1) Family and Friends, little children, old people — PEOPLE
    2) Walking
    3) Flowers and growing things
    4) Fairy tales and Happily ever after
    5) The Violin
    6) Hand-made things — be it crafts or food stuff
    7) Toys — especially dolls, trolls, gumby, and vintage stuff
    8) Antiques
    9) Native American history and stories
    10) Soaring Birds
    11) Pennies, Bubble Baths, Patchouli, fuzzy things, glitter, lawn ornaments, bull dogs,…
    I think I could go to 100, but that might be a bit dramatic. 😉

  2. Go hug a cactus–now THAT’S funny. Thank you for the list. It’s cool that I just learned a lot about you from a list of TEN. Very, very interesting. I have a very, very special place in my heart for people who love people who have lived a long time on this earth. I don’t say old because age doesn’t make a person “old” in my book.

  3. 1. Gardening
    2. Babies
    3. Dancing
    4. Good food
    5. Nature (woods, rivers, ocean, stars…..)
    6. Sight seeing and travel. anywhere. close by or far away.
    7. Shopping (online, thrift stores, home stores)
    8. Decorating my home
    9. Painting. at least I’d like to. I get frustrated because I can’t make what I see in my head come out on a canvas. I need lessons.
    10. Music. it speaks for me when I can’t find the words.

    • Ah, painting. I do love art, but I understand what you mean about being frustrated about not being able to transfer what’s in your head to the canvas. I had a wonderful art teacher in high school, Mr. Jimmy “Grouch” Jones. He was able to help me make the transfer. If I had to go back to high school, art class is one of the few things I would truly enjoy.

  4. 1. Family
    2. Football
    3. Fishing
    4. Friends
    5. Hard core country
    6. Photography
    7. Dogs
    8. Rivers
    9. Paintings (others)

    I started to list former students as one of these but I would have to name them individually and did not want to leave anyone out. of the picture.

    • Yep. I left off people too. 🙂 Speaking of hard core country, I may just have to write about the changes in country music. I used to be a big fan of Gerry House on the Big 98. I was so sad to see him go. The format is “new country” now. I like what I thought was new country, but all I’m hearing now is club music fused with a banjo and rapped lyrics. Just not my thing–at all.

      I really like photography too. I’m so sad because I had a nifty Nikon camera, the best small camera I ever owned. It broke on a field trip, and it may take weeks to get it repaired,,,if it can be repaired. The Bon Jovi concert is tonight. No pictures for me. 😦 Oh well.

      Thank you for giving me your list. It’s true. Reading through these bring about good feelings and smiles.

  5. 1. Quiet mornings
    2. Firelight
    3. Music
    4. My grandmother’s cornbread
    5. Quality conversation
    6. The book of Isaiah
    7. Having time to just think
    8. Learning about other people
    9. Handmade gifts
    10. Unexpected letters and cards

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