“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
During the course of this week I have been looking at the writers intention for writing and today I am going to explore feeling. Words are powerful but unless they evoke a reaction from the reader or listener, they are unlikely to have a lasting impression. Especially in our society where we have developed a very critical way of thinking and dismissing words as empty. Unless what somebody says hits home and evokes a strong emotion or causes us to think, the words are not taken seriously. Sometimes even the strong thinking, or being caused to reconsider is not enough. So is it possible to ensure that your words hit the right spots?
Maya Angelou is a great poet and novelist with poems which have struck chords with many people, in several countries and different histories. Angelou argues that people “will forget what you have said…what you did…but never forget the way you made them feel”. I have found that one of the best ways to make people feel is to try and get them to walk in your shoes. Writing like most kinds of art is about creating pictures in the mind of another human being so that they are able to feel just for a second what we ourselves have experienced. For this reason the strength of the writer lies either in their imagination and the way they are able to create situations, or the clarity of their memory and their ability to re -create the moment on paper. Both skills require the writer to have a clear idea of what exactly they are trying to achieve and the emotions they would have felt in the moment.
Having established the point they are trying to drive and the feelings expressed in the moment, choosing the appropriate words for the situation is also key. I personally cannot imagine writing a piece about heartbreak or death and just throwing any words into the mix. Although people might forget what we have said, these words are the only tools we have to drive an emotion and get a reaction. If I read back a piece of work and I am apathetic there is a problem. I write to feel.
We may never know the kind of reaction our works will evoke, a writer is able to know their own emotions. I believe we are all at once writer and author so our own reactions should be monitored closely.