Can't get you outta my head

Do you feed your embarrassing moments into your writing? Skilbey Blogs.

stone-figure-1043424_1280‘Can’t get you outta my head’.

As writers, we are always on the lookout for fertile ideas. We understand, engage and exercise our ‘periphery’ very well. We casually flick our eyes, showing an interest in our world and the community we live in, much like everyone else, but for writers (and artists), it goes that little deeper; there’s an underlying hunger to really understand what makes things/us, tick. Writers pick up lots- in fact more accurately, we unpick things all the time, striving to go deeper; exploring meta-communication, meta feelings and the like. And then we use our skills to shine a light on what we’ve found.

We listen to our dear friends, our families, acquaintances and strangers, absorbing as much as we can. When the outrageous, peculiar, funny, shocking or embarrassing, come our way, we jot these down and squirrel it away, hopefully, to become part of another story. We use this material so long as we do not attribute, identify or leave vulnerable traces that can cause distress or harm. The threat of being sued keeps us in check anyway.

But do we shine a light on our own deeply embarrassing moments? Are we brave enough to use incidents that we still haven’t got over, despite dressing and trussing them up so meticulously- though what for; readers aren’t going to know it was you who tried to snog (tongue, actually) a photograph of someone you fancied who, right at that snog moment, happened to walk in on you doing it.

They are not going to know that, despite being drunk in your story, you were in fact, as sober as a nun at the time. And those that were present when it happened? Confess, there were others there. Well, you can’t hide it from them, can you?. All that is achieved in the embellishment is the equivalent of waving a red flag to the faux pas or placing an ‘X’ marks the spot right across the page. See that car that you ran over yourself with? You’re about to reverse and run  over yourself again, with swinging furry dice a-flailing.

Do these embarrassing moments have to be ‘exorcised’ out of our heads before we can play with them in our writing?

I have read that if there is a tune in your head that just won’t go away, then it’s best to play the tune out in your head, right to the very end, or memorize the ending of the tune to break the loop, as the human brain has a tendency to remember incomplete activities. It’s called the Zeigarnik Effect.

Maybe this could be applied to our embarrassing moments? If we are brave enough to stop shutting our brains down at the merest whiff of an embarrassing recall, and ride through the discomfort of it again and again in our heads, then maybe it will cease to torture us, bothering us less. Maybe then it can be used as material in our writing.

So what do you do with personal embarrassing moments? Could you use this technique? Would you want to anyway?

What do you think? Or do you use yours regardless?

By the way, I made that up. About the tongue thing.

10 thoughts on “Do you feed your embarrassing moments into your writing? Skilbey Blogs.

  1. Whatever it is from the past that has returned to interrupt your everyday routine of thinking, you can be sure that it has been embellished and altered over time and has been carefully re-designed to upset you; and, it may not even be true. If you are looking for catharsis, it would seem rather cumbersome to me, to write a story around some social mishap, because it might make you feel better. Better to get some minor character in your book, to get drunk, vomit in someone strangers handbag and then fall out of a window. Believe me, no one will probably notice anyway!

    1. Yes, agree, why would you put yourself through, yet again, something that was clearly difficult to experience the first time round? But are there writers out there who can sacrifice the pain of a seriously embarrassing moment for their art, to create a good story? And not for any serious cathartic reason but just to share the moment for what it was-dire. Of course, embarrassment is subjective, but I’m talking about something that most would confidently call a toe curling embarrassing situation. I think your point about no one noticing is probably the reality but could be hard for one to feel reassured about. HeHe! Thanks for commenting, Patrick x

    2. That is so interesting. I’ve often wondered about how feelings are altered over time. I read somewhere that our memories are remembrances of the previous time we had that memory. Its kinda like playing telephone with ourselves.

      1. Wow, never thought of it that way. In essence, perhaps we never really connect to that raw feeling we experienced the first time we felt the embarrassment. An echo of a feeling spent. I like that idea… 🙂 thanks for commenting!

  2. Of course it is 😉 I have many embarrassing moment that I have no wish to inflict on any of my characters…yet! I think it would depend on what I was writing and if I found myself writing some light-weight rom com in the future (highly unlikely!) then perhaps…I have plenty of fodder to fill those pages I can tell you. But my most embarrassing moment? Nope, never, that one will be going with me to the grave 😉

    1. Hehe! It’s the embarrassing one that you say you’ll be taking with you to the pearly gates. Sounds like it’s fantastic material, but I do empathize with your reluctance to share it. Private is private. Thanks for your thoughts!. 🙂

  3. Any embarrassing moments I give to the antagonist. People that upset me? I kill them off in the next book!!! Jx

  4. Have you ever watched Lena Dunham’s “Girls?” I got tired of it, (because nothing ever changes)but I watched it for as long as I did, because there is a sort of authenticity in the characters’ displaying their insecurities. Their embarrassments.

    1. Hi, no, I haven’t watched Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’. Yes, it can be very refreshing watching embarrassment that captures the sincerity of the situation without being overly ‘hammed up’. I shall try to look out for it, though I’m terrible at catching up with TV programmes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting- appreciate it! 🙂

Many thanks for reading. Your thoughts are welcomed.

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