Emotions. They can be a tricky thing. When you feel them, they come on so strong like a wave crashing down on your entire world. You can feel multiple emotions at once and some of them are best friends; anger mixed with anxiety, depression mixed with fear, happiness mixed with nostalgia. In the moment, it is so easy to get lost in these emotions. They are so vivid and just so real.
So, how do you take advantage of these emotions? How do you channel such powerful feelings in a productive way? For example, the emotions your characters feel in your novel. When writing a novel (or short story), you want the readers to be able to feel what your characters are feeling. What better way to have your readers connecting with your characters than having them feel the emotions they are familiar with. The emotions you have experienced yourself.
Here is the tricky part. Having someone feel emotions from your story isn't easy, but learning to channel your emotions into your story with the same end goal is.
Write Down What You're Feeling
Take a moment and just get in tune with your body. This will be easier when you are experiencing a certain emotion. Take a deep breath and think. How is your body responding to this emotion? Are you smiling? Is your heart rate increased? How is your breathing? Think about these things and write it down. You will be able to use these for your characters in your novel later.
Put Yourself in Your Character's Shoes
What do you do if the emotion your character feeling is one you've never experienced before? Try and relate to it. There are two ways you can do this. The first way is to acknowledge what your character is feeling and then think about a situation you were in where you felt similar. For example, your character experiences the death of someone close to them. You have never lost anyone in your life before, but you have lost a pet. How did you feel in that moment? Write it down. If you don't feel like it is enough emotion tweak it a bit. Just make sure you get down the basics. The second way is to assume the role of that character. Research about your character's situation and how other people have reacted to it. Try reading other books with a similar situation. By putting yourself in their shoes, you will be able to write a realistic reaction.
Just Keep Venting
What do you do if you are feeling an intense emotion, but there is nothing in your story right now in need of it? Still, write it down! Open up a blank document and just let the emotions pour through your fingertips. What is on your mind? How is your body acting? Treat the page like you are ranting or squealing to your best friend. It doesn't matter what the topic is, just get it out. You will be able to pick it apart later and use it in your story. It will also feel amazing once you get it all off your chest.