Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp writes about a topic I am passionate about: Healing through writing.
WRITING ABOUT DIFFICULT TIMES IN YOUR LIFE
When life hands us situations that hurt, we sometimes want to push it away, hide it in a closet. It’s too hard to bring it forth and try to deal with the misfortune. There are so many events in our life that create deep wounds and leave scars—the death of a spouse, losing a child, being in a terrible accident, losing a home to fire or a tornado, a difficult romance and break-up. The list could go on and on.
I believe that writing about whatever happened has benefits. It is cathartic for the writer and can be a help to readers who have gone through a similar situation. You’re a double winner if you aid both yourself and those readers who have been through something difficult.
It’s definitely not easy to write about a tragedy in your life. It cannot always be done immediately after the event. For me, it took almost 30 years before I could write about the loss of two infants born three years apart. I wanted to but the time was not right for me to do that. When I finally was able to write about those two difficult times in my life, and my husband’s, it seemed that a dam opened and I wrote one story after another. Did it help me? I think it finally brought the peace I had sought and not found all those earlier years. It also made me feel good that I brought something to others who had gone through a similar tragedy. I would not advise waiting such a long time to write, however.
Ernest Hemingway has passed on many pieces of advice for writers. His quote that fits today’s topic is “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” When you’re writing about something that has hurt you deeply, it’s best to address it head first. Some writers will tip-toe around whatever happened and perhaps infer but not really explain. That’s not fair to you or your readers. If you decide to write about that deep hurt, do it the way the quote says—write hard and clear.
Give the facts of what occurred but also reach into your mind for your feelings, your attitude, the way you dealt with it. This kind of writing is filled with emotion and should be. For you, the writer, it can be a blessed release. Occasionally, what you write will surprise you. You’re not aware of some the buried thoughts you have.
There are writers who can’t or won’t write about a hard time they experienced because they feel it is too personal to share with others. That’s showing the difference in people and personalities. If you can’t write about a hard time to share with others, do it for yourself. Write the story and how it affected you and put it away in a drawer or a safe deposit box or a computer file—somewhere that is just for you to see and read. There’s nothing wrong in not sharing with others. The main thing is that writing about whatever hurt you will be helpful. If nothing else, you can realize exactly how the situation did affect you or how it may have changed you.
Whether you write about tragedies in your life for yourself only or for others, do write. It can’t hurt and it certainly might help.
Nancy Julien Kopp lives and writes in Manhattan, KS. She writes creative nonfiction, poetry, personal essays, children’s fiction, and articles on the craft of writing. She has stories in 21 Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, ezines, other anthologies, newspapers and magazines.
She posts Monday through Friday on her blog about her writing world with tips and encouragement for writers.
Note from Marlene: I recently discovered Nancy and her blog, Writer Granny’s World by Nancy Julien Kopp, and am loving her writing and thought process. I like the way she thinks and encourages writers.
For suggestions about how to write about difficult things: