I “win” at writing — I write to inspire and nurture… My writing aims to empower and uplift. Some people may classify some of my works as “self help.” Most of my writing is drawn from personal experience, and thus puts it in the classification of memoir.
Writing memoir is hard. Hard because it means you will be dredging up memories. Memories that are sometimes difficult to re-live. I am currently working on a two-book memoir which deals with infidelity. The writing is bringing up some heart wrenching, traumatic, and painful memories for me. How do you continue writing through this pain?
It is difficult. My subject is a very sensitive one. Writing reminds me of my experiences with this subject and the pain and destruction it causes. As a writer, it is already quite difficult to get the words on to the page. Fighting with your inner critic, fighting the urge to edit as you write rather than “get it down, then get it right” as Don Fry would instruct, distractions of home/work/life, writer’s block — the list of road blocks is monumental. Add to that writing from the heart on a topic that brings back painful memories and you have one great recipe for not making it to the printing press…
How then does one avoid the pitfalls and continue writing — to completion — a memoir with harsh memories?
The answers are many. As many as there are writers of memoir. Each writer handles things differently with one common thread — writing. They continue to write through the pain. They push forward and get the pain out of their minds and hearts and onto the page. But for me, this doesn’t always work…especially with my chosen topic. Sometimes the pain is too great to write through and one must take a break. So how do you prevent the necessary emotional breaks from stalling the writing process?
Write about something different…
Rather than take a mindless break that would have most writers lost for hours surfing the Internet or doing laundry (procrastination techniques 101), take a writing break:
- Write and schedule your blog post for the next several days or weeks.
- Edit your NaNoWriMo from 2011.
- Try your hand at romance novel writing.
- Start your first mystery trilogy.
- Just don’t stop writing…
Change what you are writing about. I took on the ScriptFrenzy challenge for the first time this year. Failed miserably! But having another thing to write gave me something I could escape to while continuing to write… I was able to take a break from the pain of recalling the memories yet I kept writing. For me, this makes it an easier transition back to the hard task at hand. If I took a break by not writing anything, it would be much harder for me to pick the pen up again and get going. It is hard enough putting “butt in chair” and starting in the first place. To stop writing, especially when writing something emotionally difficult, would hurt far more than it would help.
My advice — keep writing. Write through the pain in the manuscript if you can. If the pain of writing is jetting you toward putting down your pen and doing laundry, switch gears and brush up on your screenwriting. Or start your first paranormal romance. Take a stab at fiction writing if you consider yourself a nonfiction writer. Whatever you do —
Time to share…
How do you make it through writing about difficult subjects, ones that cause you emotional distress and/or hurt? What advice can you give to other writers who run up against this same issue?