Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Don’t Avoid Painful Writing

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
–Rumi

Write first from the heart, from that place that makes you vulnerable. Write so honestly and authentically that you bleed on the pages.

Painful Writing

Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

Write with pathos. Write with passion. Write true. This is what is required of good writing and why it is so painful. We must reveal that part of ourselves we’d rather hide. The part of you we’re all longing to see.

Don’t hide your scars. Show them.

When asked by a family member to not write about growing up in an alcoholic household, one author gave a simple retort: “You don’t own the intellectual property rights to my pain.” When he finally did share his story, it set him and many others free.

We need you to not avoid the painful part of your writing journey. Please don’t deprive your audience. much less yourself, of this, because when we enter into our pain, something beautiful happens. A few beautiful things, in fact.

It helps heal us

Writing out your junk is cathartic. Your notebook or laptop can be a confessional booth or even a counselor. It hears your deep hurts and pains and allows you to process them in your own creative way. This is how we find healing: not by avoiding discomfort but by honestly leaning into it.

It helps heal others

Whether you realize it or not, sharing the painful parts of your story is about more than just you.

Other people may identify with certain pieces of your pain and in your story find healing. When you share your story, you help those people go through the same cathartic process you’ve experienced.

This is an act of bravery, which is why it’s so hard.

It helps heal the world

The world is in pain. While beautiful and marvelous, it is full of suffering and injustice. As we share the stories that matter — the dirty, dingy stories of pain on this planet — we take the first, necessary step towards redemption.

Sharing a story of abuse or neglect, of pain or suffering, may be uncomfortable. In fact, you can probably count on it. It will force you to be vulnerable and open in ways you’d rather not be. But it can also be a healing balm on your life, the lives of others, and even the world.

Don’t avoid painful writing. Don’t procrastinate sharing your scars. Take an honest look inward and begin today. It may be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done. And once you’ve done this, move on to writing the ugly parts of your story.

What’s something painful you’ve been avoiding writing? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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