In recent years, I’ve started to realize that writing is a much deeper journey than I ever gave it credit for in my rose-colored childhood. I used to think that writing was just a matter of putting words on a page, editing them once or twice, and sending them off to a publisher. Clinical, procedural, and easy.
But it’s not like that. It’s just not that simple.
Writing is like music. The songs that resonate the most are the ones that came from the well of the lyricist’s own struggles and successes. Their grief and joy. Their love and hate. That’s why a lot of listeners can tell when a song was written just to be fun, funny, or a chart-topper. There’s nothing wrong with those songs, but the emotional depth is lacking. The song came from the surface, not the soul, and we can tell. Somehow, we can feel the difference.
When it comes to writing, I don’t think it’s any different – and that’s part of the reason it’s so difficult at times. We’re not only putting a piece of ourselves into a story…we’re often putting the parts that hurt the most into it. The parts that are the scariest. We’re putting our deepest thoughts and conjectures, fears and longings, a huge portion of our hopes and dreams before a faceless audience and hoping to be understood.
But those scary stories are the ones that need telling.
The ones about anxiety. The ones about abuse. The ones about fear and rejection and finding yourself. The ones about heroes in a crumbling world, and what it truly means to be heroic. The ones that force us, as writers, to tap into our own insecurities and rage, our own pain, so that we can tell the stories that matter.
This week, my encouragement to you is both simple and outrageously difficult: write from your pain. Write the things that hurt, that intimidate, that terrify you. Take the plunge. Do it for yourself, and for the people that one day might pick up your book, read your character’s struggle, and say, “That’s me.”
Your journey could very well guide someone along in theirs. And as unbelievably tough as it can be to write from these places, there’s freedom in exploring it, too. There’s healing. And there are insane amounts of courage, growth, and redemption to be found in writing from your pain.