Writing Where It Hurts

By on October 13, 2017
Writing Where It Hurts - writerslife.org

Writing can be an incredibly healing and cathartic process, and some of the very best writing comes from authors being brave enough to explore their most profound, darkest, most agonising thoughts and memories and translating them to the page.

Many writers can feel scared or intimidated by exploring their own intense emotions. Dwelling on when they have felt most alone, most scared, most sad can feel incredibly daunting, but doing so, and using writing as a tool to express those feelings can bring about great relief, as well as create some incredibly raw, touching work while they are at it.

So how does one write where it hurts? How does an author find a way to get in touch with their most intimidating emotions, their secret feelings, their innermost fears? Here are some things to try:

Sit in a dark, quiet room

To tap into those buried emotions, you might find you need peace and quiet. Sit somewhere you know you won’t be disturbed and just open your mind and let your thoughts flow. Make sure there are no distractions and really focus on your thoughts.

Drink some wine (!)

OK so this may not work for everyone but having a glass of wine can sometimes help you to be less critical of yourself and allow your thoughts to become freer and float more readily to the surface. Focus on memories, issues you are struggling with or thoughts you usually try to block out. When they come to you, write them down.

Listen to emotive music.

Music can have a powerful effect on our emotions, so why not create a playlist of songs that evoke memories for you, or make you feel a certain way to get you in the right frame of mind and mood to write more emotionally?

Keep a diary

Keeping a diary will help jog your memory when it comes to recalling certain events and help you understand why you feel the way that you feel. An old diary can bring back so many memories so try to write a daily journal - you never know when it might come in handy.

Write while it’s fresh

If you are feeling particularly angry or upset, don’t wait until you have calmed down to write about it. Try to capture how you feel while it’s still raw; this will result in a much more emotionally powerful piece of writing.

Keep it private

Remember, you don’t have to share this writing with anyone, and you can pick and choose bits of it you want to use in your creative work. Reminding yourself of this will hopefully relax you enough to really go deep and get to the root cause and most raw, brutal memories, thoughts and feelings that you have.

Write freely

When you are trying to write with emotion, never censor yourself. Always allow yourself to write freely and without judgement. It doesn’t matter if it’s not eloquent or even that it doesn’t make sense at times; you can refine and shape it later.

Focus on how you feel afterwards

Writing in this way can be incredibly relieving and cathartic - is this how you feel after you’ve finished a session? If so, focus on these feelings of relief and weightlessness so you’ll be more motivated to try again. Remember, this kind of writing requires a certain amount of bravery, but doing so can make a powerful difference to your work, draw readers in, and if they have had shared experiences, can make them feel connected to you and understood.

Know when to stop

If it get’s too painful, overwhelming or exhausting then just stop and try again another day. You don’t have to explore every intense emotion you have ever had, every bad memory, every frightening incident all at once. So know when to stop for the sake of your sanity!

If you want to learn how to write more emotionally, or simply have some things brewing underneath the surface and you know you might benefit from writing about them, try these tips to see if they can draw out your emotions and help you craft powerfully moving and dramatic pieces of writing while you're at it.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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