Frustration And The Page

There are sometimes when life makes you mad. Like the time someone backed into your parked car in the parking lot, or ran a key along your new paint job. How about the time when your kids broke your brand new ipod.

Then there are the times when we get frustrated at our own stupid mistakes. Like forgetting to turn the oven on to cook the Thanksgiving turkey, or losing our keys. How about that all too frustrating stub-your-toe moment.

Frustration seems to be one of our more frequent emotions that plague our days, but really all of it small next to the tragedies life deals out sometimes. I love the song This is the Stuff, by Francesca Battistelli . It just sums it up so well.

Those days of frustration are going to come. We can’t stop them, but we can fight back. No, you can’t give in to the urge to go rogue and smash someone’s car, or send your kids to your mom’s house indefinitely. You can’t throw the raw turkey at your obnoxious Aunt Millie who never failed at anything in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. But you can fight back.

Open a document and write all those angry emotions onto a page. Don’t worry what it looks like, or if it even makes sense. Frustration can fuel your ability to write emotions in your characters. Use all of the emotions you experience to make your book come to life.

Tips To Help Frustration Meet The Page For Your Characters:

*Keep a journal or a file on your computer that has pages on different emotions. Every day you feel angry, frustrated, betrayed, hurt, happy, in love or sad be sure to splash words on the page to tell how you are feeling. This will become a bank of emotional connection to draw on when you write a character who is facing these emotions. Read the emotion page when you are about to write a scene with that emotion. It will make your scene more powerful.

*Write the verbs that come to mind in that journal. When the moment comes to use this emotion, the verbs you’ve written can be a great jumping spot for building the mood into your scene.

*Help your characters live in the real world. Life happens. We have all heard that saying, but we often forget to make life happen to our characters. The every day stuff that annoys us, annoys them. Why do our characters always fight over things that make total sense. Do you ever overreact to your spouse or friends and argue about meaningless things, or something other than the main problem? Make that happen for your characters. They just might wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

*The actions of frustration. When we are frustrated, we do all kinds of things. We slam cupboards, mutter to ourselves, clean furiously(I’ve heard some people do this…they really need to come to my house), grit our teeth, use power tools, etc. This list goes on and on. Don’t limit your characters actions that match an emotion. If you see someone who does something as a result of frustration or another emotion, write it in your journal or computer file.

*Make them say what you’ve always wanted to say. Let your characters say what you long to say when you are mad, happy, frustrated, annoyed, etc. Readers want to hear what they’ve always wanted to say. Inside they scream, “That’s right girl, tell it like it is,” every time we put their words in our character’s mouths.

We can’t hide from the days that went sour from the time our feet hit the floor, but we can turn those emotions in something amazing on the page. Let emotions live in your stories as they do in real life, it will draw readers who live in the real world, too.

What is one of the most frustrating things that has ever happened to you?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

10 thoughts on “Frustration And The Page

  1. Great post and I especially love this line:
    “Readers want to hear what they’ve always wanted to say.” That is so true! I’ve been one of those readers!

    Excellent post on frustration and I’m one of those clean-when-they’re-mad kind of people. 🙂 By the time I’m done, I’ve cooled off so coming to your house is out! LOL

  2. Frustration is when one of your kids chases the other kid into the house…with a hose. Yeah. Probably not a great idea to invest in those super long garden hoses if you’ve got children.

  3. bethkvogt says:

    Frustration is when you’re trying to send a ms off and you have this annoying black line of death on one page of your ms … and no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of it. Nothing short of a nuclear attack will obliterate said black line. So you have to retype the entire page . . . and then you try to print the ms out and your printer jams . . . over and over again. But I’ve learned: This is why a writer always has two printers.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      OH, how frustrating. I’ve had unknown lines and automatic borders that don’t like to turn off sometimes too. Two printers…hadn’t thought of that.

    • Beth, when I find that horrible line of death, I copy every thing below it and paste it into a new document. Then I copy what I pasted, starting with either the next sentence after the black line or sometimes the paragraph. Another thing you can do is past the paragraph just above the black line-the black line comes with you, paste it in new doc and delete the last word. That usually takes care of the auto-format.

  4. Michelle, great post! I just ordered a Moleskine journal (couldn’t find one in this small town) Until it comes, I’m jotting a few things down. One thing I know I’m going to do is buy those little tabs and stick them on a page so I can organize my journal according to different emotions.

  5. Michelle Lim says:

    That’s a great idea, Pat. I have an emotions journey, too. Susan May Warren recommends that too.

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