Writer Life Lesson #17: Don’t Be Afraid to Write the Hard Stuff

Writing, like every other form of art, strives to make people feel something. This is usually accomplished by making the work feel real, using real emotions and situations that force the reader or the viewer or the participant to feel something. Sometimes, this means including things that hurt us, or make us feel vulnerable, dirty, or embarrassed.

There are several events, and people and objects that make us feel that way, and as many things as there are, there are a thousand more ways to write them. A lot of writing advice will tell you to avoid things that will make the reader cringe or feel offended, especially if it has to do with real events, especially if you can find a better way to further the plot and your story, but I say

Don’t Be Afraid to Write the Hard Stuff

Why? Because if we avoid the hard stuff, the triggers and the pain of events, then we cannot get past them as human beings. If we sugarcoat everything in our writing, make it fluffy and pretty and wrapped up, it will not seem real, or plausible. If we want our readers to feel something, we have to dig deep and find the things that hurt us and bring them forth.

I’m not saying force yourself to write what hurts you, or force it out for the sake of readers and the ability to sell. What I am saying is when you feel that you are ready, just try writing what hurts, what scares, or what embarrasses you. You might be able to get through it, or you might not.

I know all about what it feels like to write the hard stuff and the difficult things. When my mom passed away in 2013, it was hard for me to write about her, about any mothers. So in 2014, I decided I was going to write a story similar to my experiences for a short story contest. I started to write it, but it was just too difficult, so I put it away for later. Will I continue it? Maybe. Will I throw it out for good? No way!

Hard things to write could be anything. It could be murder, rape, incest, or any other various tragedies or joys. I’m not saying add these things, or anything like them, in for shock value, but if it is necessary to your plot, to motivate your characters, or further their development, then add it in. Write it to the best of your ability, and then edit it like hell for it to have the best impact.

Don’t be afraid to write because the themes or events scare you.

Go forth and write!


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