Don’t Avoid Painful Writing

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

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.

106 thoughts on “Don’t Avoid Painful Writing

  1. I absolutely agree, Jeff.  I believe that our pain is just that OUR pain, and while we want to be respectful and kind in what we write, we owe it to ourselves and those who read our work to not be afraid to explore those places.  Thanks for this.  

  2. I have been wanting to write about my family for a while, but I’m not sure how to do it without hurting them.  For years, I was afraid that the rest of the world was as judgmental as my family.  There are days I can still imagine the sarcastic stinging remarks that another person might be thinking about what I said or what I’m wearing or any other minor flaw.   I do plan to write about it and maybe even publish it on my blog.  I’ll probably write it and rewrite it multiple times to try to find the right words.  I don’t want to drive my family further away from God by sharing their secrets with the world.  However, I know this is an important story for people to hear.  I have to write with grace and precede the writing with lots of prayer.  Thanks for the encouragement to write about this.

  3. I’ve found that honesty is absolute freedom for the writer, and compelling for the reader. C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone,” and writing out our deepest parts and pains are where we connect with others. That quote from Ian Cron struck a chord with me too. My family did not want me to write about my dad’s diabetes and how it affected us all, or my own struggles with weight. But as you write, you realize that your ‘secrets’ are not unique. Many have had them before, and knowing this defuses the stigma and shame. What is unique is telling your story with confidence and transparency, to let others experience the same freedom.

    1. I agree. Of course, it’s a balance, because wisdom is required in this, as well. I love that Lewis quote. In the world of social media and instant publishing, I think it could now be said that we WRITE to know that we are not alone.

  4. Jeff, thank for the reminder. I was writing a theological defense of Infant Salvation (I had a two year old die from brain cancer) before a business trip took me out of the country for three months.

    I am finding it hard to get back into the mindset needed to finish this project.

    Your brief post was a welcome kick in the pants…



  5. “But it can also be a healing balm on your life, the lives of others, and even the world.” 

    Sometimes it can be about realizing how little we really are in this world. If we reduce ourselves to the size we truly are and make what matters most our true center, we can release our pain in a helpful and healing way for ourself as well as for others.

  6. I recently wrote on my blog about my journey through losing my house, my cars, my gardens and moving through bankruptcy and then divorce. I was really inspired and amazed by the heartfelt comments and new readers I received from doing this. It was very healing and settling to write it and share it. I really felt like I helped some people by doing it. I really like that line, ‘You don’t own the intellectual property rights on my pain.’ That is a great line.

  7. I have been delaying writing my book because it includes pain.  I am not afraid of sharing my pain; that belongs to me.  But pain that is not self-inflicted, pain that comes from someone else’s mistakes, selfishness or greed…that pain is hard to write about.  Some people want to forget what they have done.  Part of me wants to help them do that.  I don’t know why.  I have been healed of my pain by the Almighty Father.  I don’t need to write to vent or heal, per se.  So, how do I write about it and not cause pain to others?  I do not wish to be a link on the pain chain.  Until I figure this out, the typewriter remains silent.

    1. Amen.  We never feel true pain in a vacuum.  But each heals and/or repents at a different rate.  We need to be careful.  

    2. I write about the same kind of pain and like you, don’t want to hurt others even in telling the truth.  I think we can write about without causing pain to others.

  8. I’ve been wanting to write on my family for a couple of years now. I just don’t know where to start. The divorce my parents went through before I was four? The custody case where I was literally pried away from my sister the summer before seventh grade? The depression my mom went through, the depression my dad is going through now? The fact that my eleven year old sister was in and out of a mental institution/programs for three years?

    And there are days, that I just want to write my my dad, mom, stepmom, and sisters notes about how I feel. I live five hours away now and only my nineteen year old sister  and my mother will talk to me on a regular basis. It’s really starting to get to me. I found myself crying at work last night when I saw a little girl, sitting next to the bookcases, reading who looked just like my eleven year old sister. 

    I absolutely love this post and really needed it. Thank you so much. 

  9. You would think that because I write so much about depression and anxiety that painful writing would come easy for me.  Honestly, though, sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Gee, do I really want to write about that anxiety attack?”

  10. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything I avoid writing about. I started writing my blog as a way to work through and process the issues, both good and bad, I go through in life. I’ve touched on everything from doubt and fear to porn addiction and feelings of insecurity. I have found my students are more willing to share when they hear what I’ve gone through and been healed or am in the process of being healed from.

  11. Two thoughts come–because I’ve lived through a nice long list of painful things which provide source material.
    1-Yes, write about the pain, but not necessarily while you’re in the middle of it.  At least not as more than private journaling.  If you’re writing to share the pain experiences and the triumphs and lessons that came thereafter, give the pain time to be understood in perspective.  The writing will be more lucid.  Refer back to the journals to find the exact words and feelings, but then craft them in a way that will bring about healing.  Otherwise, it’s just a tirade or sob session to the reader.  Good writing isn’t just venting.  (I’ve got a blog post about this called “Don’t Write Angry”.)2-I echo Ines’ concern.  Our pain is almost never ours alone.  If someone else is trying to heal or trying to repent, dragging them into the light may not be good for them.  My release from pain through writing should not be at the expense of another being thrust back into it.  IF we can write about those experiences in a way that does not hurt others–by fictionalizing, or changing names, etc.–then do it.  But tell-all books always leave a wake of bad feelings for those who are exposed.If #2 is your intent–to expose the wrongdoings of those who have hurt you and exact a revenge of sorts through the writing….well, then you probably haven’t gotten through #1’s healing perspective time yet.

    1. I think this is true in certain circumstances, but I think Jeff is talking from a broader perspective of one’s life story. But, it’s a good distinction to make nevertheless. Thanks for these thoughts. I have trouble reigning in my angry rants sometimes and making the distinction between appropriate outlets.

    2. I have to
      disagree with #2, I believe that reading about other people’s experiences with
      pain and despair helps the reader realize that they are not alone and they
      might even find a solution for dealing with their pain by reading about yours.

      Only writing
      about surface is just that, surface. If you move beyond the ego and express
      what is deep within, your writing is much more engaging and purposeful.

    3. Hey Lia – I like your thoughts here, but I don’t necessarily agree that pain has to be processed to the point of “triumphs and lessons” before it can be put to paper. Often the best writing about pain is in the middle of wrestling with it. We have Psalms that do this very thing. Like Jeff was saying in this post, just getting the wrestling down on paper is often cathartic – even if it is at the venting stage. And sometimes, when I see others in this process, it helps me process too. The Psalms have helped tremendously in this way!

  12. Great post, Jeff!  There is so much freedom and healing found when we become willing to open up and write about those dark and painful places. And the beautiful thing is- our words create a ripple effect.  We go first then others often feel compelled to share too.  Love how it all works. 🙂

  13. It’s interesting. Often as I write out my pain, both during and through the other side, it eventually dissolves into nothingness. I have worked out some of the most searingly painful moments of my life to the point of completely shifting the perspective. The cause of pain is often due to attachment to some particular idea of how things are supposed to work out. The pain is not been the thing itself, after all, but my attachment to what I once believed. Writing out the pain – THROUGH the pain – is a documentation of the creative life process. Just as our writing helps us recognize ourselves, it also helps others recognize themselves. 

  14. Thanks, Jeff. I think it’s important not to shy away from writing about something out of fear. I take my writing advice from Mary Karr, who said, “Whatever you’re most uncomfortable writing about — start with that.”

    I agree with Lia though about getting some distance/perspective before writing publicly about something highly emotional — distance lends clarity, and clarity generally makes for better writing.

    I also agree with Lia and Ines that we need to be careful/caring in how we write about painful experiences involving others. No, no one owns your pain, but is it really ethical to go against someone’s wishes and open someone else’s wounds just to tell the story you want to tell? Not that the answer is always “don’t tell,” just that we should handle others’ hearts with care. It’s also important to question motivation — writing to get revenge might feel good, but will it really accomplish any good?

    I’d add that the pain does not always have to be explicit to be effective. I like this paragraph from Lionel Basney’s essay “The Space for Grief”: “Art has to do with woundings,
    of course, and the artist’s pain will reach back like a taut fishing line into the pool of childhood: how she was treated badly, scanted, put on display, left out, left behind, laughed at. But the art is not a compensation for pain, not a rationalization, an
    alternative.  Not a sublimation,for we know where we hurt.  The pain just opened the artist up, made her a channel for [grief]. What it was, originally, is no one else’s business, this little pain that made the way open, the great generosity that refused to close it.”

  15. Dear Jeff –

    This is an important piece here.

    Exposing your pain gives others permission to share theirs.

  16. Jeff! You are absolutely on target. I believe it is my mission as a writer/educator/woman/Christian to be vulnerable in my own work. Anything less would be a waste of my and my readers’ time. 

    Also–and perhaps interesting to you and your readers–I started an online writing community in August where women have written in their stories of overcoming any of life’s adversities:

  17. What an ordained post for me. I was just wrestling with something that I believe needs to be said, needs to be addressed, possibly even in a book, yet I know it would hurt my parents for me to write. The thing is, I have healed from my pain, and they don’t even know that they are still in pain. It would be inflicting new pain on them. So hard, but so needed.

    1. “The thing is, I have healed from my pain, and they don’t even know that they are still in pain. It would be inflicting new pain on them.”

      I feel like that is exactly where I am.  I have yet to begin writing about it just for me because I feel like I have to work down to that.  I am writing more about heart issues and I feel like I’m getting to the point where I can write about.  I plan to start writing it out just for me.  Maybe I’ll get around to hitting the publish button.

  18. I’m currently in the middle of a painful circumstance.  My grandmother had a stroke on Sunday and removed from life support yesterday.  I already know that writing helps me process pain but I want to be respectful to family members at the same time.  Especially because of certain dynamics at work.  It took me a few years to write about the death of my other grandmother 4 years ago and I’ve found those stories to be so healing as I’ve written and shared.  I don’t want to wait to write this time and I plan to dive in as soon as the current chaos settles.

  19. This is great, Jeff.  I totally agree.  It’s absolutely cathartic and I certainly hope it helps others.  That’s why we do it, right?  Still amazes me that I can actually help people just by sharing my experience.

  20. I always love reading posts by people who really lay it out there, leaving themselves truly exposed. It’s always a comfort to know we’re not alone, whether it’s with a specific struggle or hurt or just over struggling/hurting in general. Such a motivation to be open and exposed myself.

  21. Hi Jeff. I have a few thoughts:
    Pain is universal and pervasive — writing through it is hugely necessary for one’s personal healing. However, when it comes time to share we need to take care we don’t err on showing too much gritty rage or veer toward the other extreme by glossing it over with broad strokes of positivism. Time and timing are valuable in presenting authentic stories that empathetically resonate with readers.
    There are great memoirs that set an example of writing suffering with respect for ourselves and even those who hurt us. Two that come to mind are: James McBride’s The Color of Water and Ian Cron’s new book Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me .

  22. I believe this whole heartedly.  In fact, I really don’t think writing from the “I” perspective can avoid the revelation of pain unless it is done dishonestly.  I do it alot with my blog but I worry about sounding whiny.  I don’t want to depress my readers.  I worry that there are so few because of it.  Maybe I’m just a crappy writer.  Well, there’s some pain to write about anyway…

    1. hmmm… tough one. i think you CAN write about pain in a way that doesn’t sound whiny and that comes from seeing it with redemptive eyes. which is you sometimes have to wait a little before writing about something. when we whine, it’s usually about present circumstances. when we write about our “stuff” it’s more about looking retrospectively at past experiences. thanks for sharing.

  23. Did this on several posts this week.  It is always a bit scary to hit the publish button on those. Sort of feel naked and wonder if I exposed too much.  And then, I realize by what comes in the comment box, the answer to the wondering is no, they needed that.

  24. When I began blogging I lived 1400 miles away from my family and close friends. Now that I’ve moved into the same city as them, my writing has come to an abrupt halt. I second guess everything I want to say because I worry about what this person or that person will think. It’s easy to write it out and send it out there to the “unknown,” but now that I have to look them in the eye on a regular basis I find that I can’t do it any more. I think I may need to start a private blog to write it all out, just to get it out of me. It’s easy to say that someone doesn’t own the rights to your pain if you don’t care about hurting them with what you share, but it’s different when you’re trying to live in peace with others.

  25. A few months ago I wrote a series called ‘My dance with depression and what I have learnt’. It was a huge hit, lots of visits, but numbers have dropped off now even though I feel I am writing more meaningful material. 

    I think that I just had a lot of ‘voyeur visitors’ (hmm like that). People who just wanted to look at my pain but not really engage. 

    thanks Jeff

  26. I’ve written just a little about it, but not much…yet.  My wife has bi-polar disorder.  This illness has brought some times of immense challenge, loneliness, hopelessness, and soul searching.  But I’ve also seen amazing hope, grace, healing, and compassion as we’ve waded through these murky waters.

    Thanks for a great post!

  27. this is what i try to do every time i sit down to write. it’s torturous even when it’s healing… and it often causes long gaps between my writing… but it’s a pursuit i never want to forsake…

    for me, i have tried to remain equally true to two often-opposing things: sharing my journey authentically… and doing so in an honoring way to those who have added to my heartache. 

    my story is mine to tell. but for me, it is highly important that in telling it, i do so with the right heart. that i continually strive to honor those who’ve hurt me even when sharing that hurt… 

    that doesn’t mean leaving out the painful parts of my journey. the truth is the truth. and it’s mine to tell. but it doesn’t need my help to make it ugly; it’s ugly all on its own. saying what has happened, talking about what i’ve endured, is not mud-slinging… it’s simply speaking the truth. i’ve had to learn to curb my own commentary when it would be so easy to point fingers or soapbox or tear down. my intention is never to shine anyone in a negative light, although often the very basic truthful facts are enough to seemingly do that on their own… 

    it is a struggle at times. it has left quite a few raw posts in my “pending” folder, posts which will likely never see the light of my day published on my site. but it’s also been freeing in so many ways. and it’s given others the “gift of going second” — making them feel safe enough to share their own authentic hearts… 

    and that makes it all worth it. 

    1. My first thought when I read the description on Twitter is that I wholeheartedly agree– it’s generally the only way I write for all the reasons you listed Jeff. That unique pain ( and joy and passion!) is what makes each of our stories powerful for someone else in need.

      My struggle is in how to continue to do so in an honoring way as Alece mentioned here. It’s important to note that it is possible to think you are being honoring in the way you write, but that dosen’t always mean those who were the source of that pain feel you are being honoring to THEIR story, their pain, their intentions. 

      I’ve taken a huge break from writing in public anything about my childhood because it was causing division and strife and hurt for some family members, not the unity and understanding and empathy and healing I hoped it would bring. It is hard because my passion is to bring others hope in surviving abuse, I just feel stuck in the middle of my family and that passion.


      1. i think your present-day relationship with the other “characters” in your story matters greatly in how or what you choose to write. you’re correct that i can’t control others’ perceptions… and, for instance, i know my ex feels i have shed him in a horrible light through my writings. however, through the sense of being honorable in my own spirit, conscious, and trusted people in my life, i feel okay with the decisions i’ve made in telling my story. 

        however, sharing things that involve family members who you are still in relationship with can be a delicate tightrope to walk. i trust that He gives us wisdom and discernment in how to balance truth with love…

  28. I continue with fear & procrastination working my 12-step program. Fear of what, I’m not sure because in reality fear has killed no one. Writing takes away the pain!! My illogical addict thinking says it will cause more pain. In reality, writing can help me move on. To not continue standing in muck. It means to reach out; to take that life preserver or out-stretched hand. I am accomplishing nothing if I am standing in muck!! 
    But, I must forge ahead. Because there is so much more to d0 while I’m on this Earth. I am not alone. I have a sponsor. I have a support group. I have God. And I am not doing God or my recovery any favors by procrastinating. Thank-you for this reminder. That we are NOT alone. That I am not the only one who doesn’t want to deal. That the solution is in the pen. And in prayer. Facing it head-on. In faith.

  29. Growing up in foster homes has its own broad range of pain and frustrated dreams. Just now, almost  forty years past “age-ing out” of the system, I have found my voice in writing memoir. It was cathartic, yes, yet in another way it was truly depressing all over again by how dark and gloomy the writing became. I’m not sure the process felt right for awhile.

    So now, my lesson to myself is that I need to find some light and humor to my life story, and to fully appreciate how glorious my life has bloomed in comparison to my experiences as a youngster.

  30. I don’t know about the sharing part of it, but the writing certainly is therapy for me. The writing flows from my pen and as though, an invisible force were directing the words, they all fall into shape in the right phrases and paragraphs and even end at the right point. If you can write what you really feel, it shapes your writing. 

  31. Wow, Jeff… you’re killing me (as usual).

    Ran into this with a post last week… screwed up badly with a great friend and described all the self-loathing and hate that came along with COMPLETELY misreading a situation and putting her through stupid unnecessary stress.  First time I had done anything like that in years….Another great friend reminded me that my readers probably needed it as well and, sure enough, it’s been my most read post so far.  Seems that folks can smell fake a mile away.

  32. This post pretty much talks about what I have been thinking on and praying on for a week.  I just recast the vision of my blog recently to reflect it.  Crazy timing here, confirmation for sure.

  33. This is a great post and just the validation I needed. I started a piece of writing about a very painful subject a few months ago and had my tears splashing all over the page but I’ve never gone back to it for fear of what it does to me and fear that it won’t be well received. I should go back and confront it – nice to know so many others think this way too.

  34. Lately I’m been writing fluff content. Pretty pictures and happy one-liners, which is the exact opposite to the way I’ve been feeling. I think I struggle with thinking I’m complaining on my blog when I write about personal struggles, even though I love it when other writers open up. Perhaps it’s time this weekend I spend some time opening up a bit more. Thanks for the encouragement.

  35. when i was in a hopeless relationship, I started a secret blog. I wrote almost daily — about my thoughts, my feelings, my hopes, my despair. About him.   I look back at my secret blog occasionally now, and though my heart still aches when I read it, I am glad that I had that outlet then when there was no one else I could turn to.  It sure as hell did help me clear my thoughts and make some honest decisions.

  36. I’ve just recently started doing this. I wrote something in my journal last year following Susan M. Tiberghien’s guide on journal writing and was amazed how little grief it caused me after being blatantly honest about my feelings on the page. I don’t know if it’s helping me become a better writer, but it’s helping me understand myself better, which will hopefully make me a better person to others. Thanks for the article.

  37. Your post arrived, like magic, right as I was having a discussion with my writing partner about what’s okay to say and what’s not always the best way to present something. What did I learn? That I need to re-read this post a few times tonight while I try to figure how to write through pain, not just about it. 

  38. Beautiful.  On a long defunct blog of mine, I wrote two incredibly painful posts. One about my experience of being raped by a friend in college.  The other about how I almost decided to abort my second child.  I debated long and hard about whether or not to post them (Were they too private?  What would people think of me?  Would people think I was vying for attention?)  I decided they needed to be said.  Both times I struck chords with many people and were sent profoundly deep and moving private messages, sharing their experiences with me and/or asking advice.  Not only was it a freeing experience for me, but I think those stories helped other people.  And that was worth every single doubt I had.

  39. so needed this as a reminder as I prepare for this Friday and write my talk on “Leading with your story”…it is always the pain and suffering that helps the reader/audience identify and it makes the redemptive story that much more powerful

  40. My blog/website is two weeks old and I have found myself writing about family/childhood dysfunction.  I was in my fifties when I began remembering abuse from multiple sources and as early as four years of age.  At age fifty-four, I was told to see a hypnotist to help me forget, received strict orders from a sibling to not talk about those events and other siblings did not remember. Many of those memories were written into journals that have been packed in a box for a long time.  Exercises on forgiveness opened the door to writing about these events again through my blog.  The venting has been replaced with something a little more thought provoking. 

  41. My writing journey began after reading the honest, open writings of a friend. I ached to be able to bare my soul and expose hurts and frustrations, as well as joys and hopes, with that same freedom, so I began doing just that. For the last 3 years I have been doing that. I don’t fear exposing myself, but finding ways to share these with the public, without causing embarrassment and injury to others close to me has been challenging, and something I don’t take lightly. Simply expressing them in words, even for limited audiences, has been truly healing.

  42. Whenever I am ask what my strengths and my weaknesses are, I struggle to the point that my stomach becomes acidic. At 49, I’m still trying to answer the question–“Who AM I?”    

    1. You don’t know me, Anthony, but I understand how it feels to not have any idea who you are or what your purpose is. I hope this isn’t an imposition, but you should check out this website when you have the time: It contains some of the most valuable truths I hold dear, and I know that it can help you find out who you are, even if it’s just a little bit.

  43. My scar is my son who is a very special boy with very special needs. He doesn’t grow up like other children or maybe one can say he doesn’t grow up at all. I have tried to share his story, my story, our story  but I am afraid I was melodramatique, so now I will put part of my experiences inside a story of another woman who had a similar problem and “quit” fighting (true story). I keep getting discouraged about writing this story because I am afraid of the massive pain.

  44. I am writing about my baby dying. It’s a long book at the moment, and the editing is the hardest part. Writing while you’re going through something is one thing, reliving it is another. Thanks for your article. It’s hard to keep picking up the manuscript and you have inspired me after a week of avoidance.

  45. I think this is a bit tricky, depending on what we’re writing about – especially when it directly affects someone else’s life and bares things to the world that they might not want bared. I can see it in some situations but not most – at least not without permission. I struggle with what to share myself since I sometimes write on the subject of breaking free from negative emotions–how to help people and give them examples, but also be loving and honor the people in my life.

  46. Jeff, every time I read your blog posts, you ignite my inner passion to be like you. You have the burning passion in you. You hide no agenda. It reveals the true artist in you. Keep inspiring us, Jeff. I’m one of your fans here in the Philippines.

  47. I agree! It is definitely healing. There’s a deep soul ache if I don’t write. Week, the shattered part is still there, but writing is a release that feels much like bleeding on paper. I am avoiding writing details of past abuse and neglect to the blog world because certain family members are still living. I’ve written privately and also share in small settings and that is helpful. Also, I write a lot about the abuse and neglect we see in our lives as foster parents, which has been another avenue of healing. Much of my writing and poetry deals with grief.

  48. I agree! There is healing in writing for me personally. If I don’t write, there’s a deep soul ache. I do hold back certain details of my personal story on my blog due to people involved in my past abuse still are alive. However, it is healing to share in small settings with others. Most of my poetry and stories deal with grief.

  49. Love this post, Jeff. Your words resonate deeply with my personal experience of writing memoir. My first memoir–a story I didn’t start out telling but begged to be told– about leaving two abusive marriages and finding my voice led me to healing and forgiveness, including self-forgiveness. I am working on a second memoir about overcoming the simultaneous battle of a cancer diagnosis and the downward spiral of my son to substance abuse. I’ve been balking at the thought of reliving those painful memories but I’ve come to trust in the process and with my son’s blessings , am moving forward in the journey. Thank you for your timely and relevant reminder of the healing and transformational power of writing through the pain. I will be sharing this all over!

  50. Such truth here Jeff! Most of my posts are #preachingtomyself! Then I’m accountable, since I have to follow what I said (God says), or I’d be a hypocrite! Great post.

  51. Right on, Jeff. Unless we are true to ourselves and our stories we’ll never heal or help others who need help.

  52. Jeff, you speak so clearly to the need to write the painful parts. On my blog,, the healing effects of writing comprise the focus of the blog behind writing my memoir. Visit sometime and check out my free e-book on these healing benefits. Thanks for this post as well as the one on writing the ugly parts too. My book, unfortunately, contains both.

  53. Jeff, I found your article on painful writing because I typed a search into Google about how to write about a painful event, and yours was the very first result. I downloaded all of the free things you offer, Thank You!

    I have two writing problems that I’m dealing with. The first thing I need to write is an “explanation” of why my husband and I are homeless – we have jobs, we dont live on the street but have in our car a few times, pay high prices to live in a hotel, but we are, never the less, homeless. I want to write out all the details of why, because it’s too painful, long, and frustrating to explain verbally to everyone who asks all the questions. I want to write it all out, so I can hand it to people who want to know, because when trying to explain it verbally, one answer leads to a million other questions, and a few facts or answers do not give a complete picture, especially when people start assuming and labelling us for being homeless.
    My main problem with writing about it, is that I can’t even start due to the fact that it causes me to be emotional about it, and for 1.5 years I’ve kept it all inside, for fear that it will break me down. I can’t afford any more stress, as my stress level is through the roof 24 hours a day already.

    The second problem I mentioned is that after I write my explanation, I want to write about my entire experience with being homeless, but I don’t think I will be able to due to the same issue I have with the emotions and stress. In other words, if I write about it, I have to think about it, which us what I’m trying to avoid, I guess. I thought that if I wrote an article or ebook about our experiences with homelessness, that maybe it would help others, might help me financially, and more importantly bring some very important issues to light.

    I’ve thought about asking someone to write these things for me, but one problem is that I can’t afford to pay for services, and a big problem would be that I would have to tell them what to write so that would mean I’d have to think about how bad off I am.

    Then there’s the problem of time even if I could bring myself to write about it. I don’t have much time on my hands due to all the problems with being totally broke causes. Every day there is some major issue we have to deal with. Even if I made the time to write, I would feel guilty for not spending that time on working extra hours towards making money, and worry that others would think that it’s a bad time management decision for someone who is broke.
    Any advice?
    Thank You!

  54. What an uplifting piece! Thank you so much for putting this together.

    I’m currently penning my memoir on this really weird and incredible incident in my life involving a local television celebrity, which left me heartbroken, as well as got me several ideas for TV shows, web series and short films! Before meeting this chap, I was without any goal or ambition in life, simply looking to marry and settle down with someone. But now, my plate is so full of these stories waiting to be developed, I’m all set to quit my high-profile corporate job for the big hustle. Can’t wait to see how it turns out, and all of this will be part of my book, which I’m also looking to adapt as a feature-film screenplay. I’ll be changing names and certain settings, of course.

    Every moment of writing my memoir makes me experience those feelings and vibes, and puts me back in those settings, but I feel them once or twice and then it’s done. It’s a scary and painful process, but it also helps me heal and let go in bits and pieces. As Hagrid says in Harry Potter, “Better out than in.”

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