Are You a Brave Writer?

I’ve always heard that you are supposed to write about things that make you angry, things that have hurt you, things that scare you. This is great advice, if you’re a brave writer. But what if you’re not?

I’m not going to lie. My life hasn’t been the easiest one in the world. It’s been filled with angry, hurtful, scary things. It finally seemed to even out about six years ago. These past six years have been the happiest of my life. So you’d think I’d be able to use all the terrible things I went through as great material for my writing, right? Wrong.

I’ve used some of it, some of the less awful stuff, but truth be told, I’m afraid to revisit the rest. I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to remember. I know I’m not the only one who’s been through hell. I’m sure that writing about what I went through would help other people. But I just can’t bring myself to do it. Not yet anyway.

What about you? Are you a brave writer? How did you make yourself go back there, to the bad stuff? Because I just don’t know if I can do it.

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5 thoughts on “Are You a Brave Writer?

  1. I think a way for me to revisit an awful past would be by pretending it wasn’t me. Like I was thinking about someone else I knew or maybe one pretend one of my fiction characters went through it. It’ll make it easier to think about.

    Just my opinion. I hope this helps 🙂

  2. I haven’t had the most horrible life but in the last 25 years, or so, I have lost all the grandparents I have known and loved, both my parents, and several close friends. Each time another died, I felt overwhelming sadness. I thought I could cope with it. After all, everyone has to die sometime, right?

    In my second novel, one of the key motivators for my character to do what she had to do was after her great-grandmother died. I drew upon the images of my father’s last hours and incorporated them into the story. During my book launch, I wanted to read that part of the story’s beginning, but suddenly had the image of my father in my head and I started to cry. (I’m crying even as I write this!) I was glad that most of the audience was family and friends who love and support me and don’t think I’m a flake, but to this day, I am not able to read that portion of my book when asked to speak to school classes.

    It’s there now, in print, a section of story where I poured out my heart. I’m still unsure whether it was cathartic. Maybe it was, to a certain degree. What helped me more was scrapbooking my parents’ lives, looking back through their life and finding pictures representing important events in their life and mine. I don’t know if this will help you at all. Maybe just writing down the worst parts of your life and simply putting the result in a file drawer will be enough. 🙂

  3. Such a great insightful question. Here’s the irony with my writing. What had been stopping me from writing about the “awful” was that I was worried about the people that hurt me. That they would be exposed. That I would hurt them. Crazy right? I needed to be ready to honestly confront them in my writing. To know that I’m not on the planet to “protect” the wrong that has been inflicted, but rather, by writing about it, to overcome it. But before I could do that I had to know that I have the tools to manage the awfulness and perhaps backlash. It’s taken me a few decades to gather those tools 🙂

  4. I’ve found I’m getting braver as I write more and more each day. The stories I wrote two years ago were “safer” and the stories I write today are starting to push boundaries. Hopefully, in another couple of years I’ll be drawing upon things that will make my writing even stronger.

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