Sadness and melancholy can be exquisite.
In fact, sadness and melancholy are essential to our spiritual health and growth.
To feel is to live.
We all know what it’s like to cry at a film and then feel exhilarated afterwards. Marvelling at how incredible it was because it made you feel so much. It’s those films where you say, ‘You gotta watch this!’ to people; because you know they’re going to feel on a deep level. There is a human connection in that. The sharing of an experience.
When you were younger, did you every incessantly play a song on repeat, repeat, repeat because it reminded you of someone? Of course you did, because the melancholy was addictive.
Maybe its age that makes us forget what that feels, years of being told to dry our tears and pull ourselves together. Maybe it’s everything we hear from others as we transition in our lives.
Darkness, light, and personal growth
On a journey of personal growth, and especially as entrepreneurs, we’re encouraged to steer clear of basking in any negativity. Instead we’re advised to connect with the angels, spirit, God, self; whatever it is for you. Encouaged to find that happy and peaceful place, and act from there.
That’s all well and good – and it DOES work. Doing that is what personally keeps me going and keeps me strong and motivated and present for my family.
But sometimes, I just need to go THERE. For the bliss of it.
For writers, especially fiction, creative fiction or memoir writers, we so often need to go to that dark place to connect with character, place, tone, and often our best writing. Writing is fuelled by darkness and light, and it requires us to understand and ignite that part of our experience. And it gives us a more rounded spiritual experience.
How to safely connect with sadness and melancholy
– and what I DON’T mean…
I’m NOT suggesting you sit and think about something traumatic that happened to you. We don’t want that, and that’s not what this is about. It is not about reliving any trauma and making yourself poorly. At all. What I mean is, connecting with something that makes you feel, deeply; like music or a film or piece of art.
(Of course something my unexpectedly get triggered. If that happens, stop immediately, and instead, go to your journal and work it out. And of course get professional help, or a close friend to talk to if you need it).
For example, here are two pictures that invite me to melancholy. In fantasy especially, picture of places like the woods or mountains, and places with mysterious entrances make us feel this because they represent the psyche and self discovery. The last one is an empty urban space, which I love.:
Now listen to your instincts with this. If you KNOW that a particular picture, song or film already has a traumatic attachment to it – then do not use it in this way! When using art to connect with sadness, it’s best to use a fresh piece, something you have not seen or heard before. That way, you can experience it for the art that it is, without any strong emotional attachment or painful memory. That way, rather than drowning in the sadness and melancholy and going down some re-lived trauma rabbit-hole, it will wash over you like a wave and bathe you in safer feelings.
Then, when you’re in that sad and melancholic place…WRITE!
Get your journal or notepad and a pen ready to either journal it out, or go straight into writing prose. And of course this is good for spirit anyway, even if you don’t want to write as a result. You can just BE.
So have a go at using art or music or movies in some way to connect with sadness and melancholy and see how it feels. For pictures, you can use the pictures above as a stimulus, and also the featured image at the top. All inspire melancholy for me, but they may not for you. So if not, find ones that work for you if these don’t.
Poetry is obviously wonderful for this too – or in fact, any extract from literature that moves you. A film that exquisitely deals with human nature in all of its glory and takes us on a roller-coaster (Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story and The Lake House are ones that work for me).
For music, film scores are amazing. I’ve written some of my most powerful journaling to music, and I write 100% of my prose to a music backdrop, too. Below is a film score that is so very dark and pregnant with anticipation. It’s beautiful. Use this piece however you’d like, it’s just over 8 mins long. It is called ‘Melancholic Suite’ by Christopher Young, and it is a collection of score from the film ‘Copycat’ with Sigourney Weaver.
So grab your notepad and come on in. The melancholy’s lovely.
(Oh and the film is fab too! I have a picture of me and Sigourney Weaver whilst she is actually holding my copy! I’ll post it in another post at some point)
If you would like any personal guidance and coaching in this area, check out my life coaching services for quietly wild, entrepreneurial woman who want to WRITE.
You can also learn more about an array of writing styles available to you through the two season of my audio series, The Power of Writing.
Do comment below and let me know what you think of this content. Do you agree? Did you try this? Did it work for you? What are your experiences of writing from a place of sadness and melancholy? Share your thoughts below!