Maine sunflower, www.carolineallen.com
I work with memoir writers who are dealing with some pretty heavy material. Day after day, week after week, month after month they remember neglect and abuse, write about it and revise it. It can be tough for even the strongest survivor out there.
Or fiction. Many writers I’ve worked with use their lives in semi-autobiographical form to write their novels. They add a scene from childhood they can’t get out of their minds and then have to relive the trauma throughout the day or week, and in their dreams at night.
Writers can get really stuck because of the sheer trauma they face in their writing. They can shut down for months or years. The writing can cause so much pain it disrupts their daily lives.
First, I recommend that all writers I work with have a therapist. You need the support. We all need support.
I’ve discovered something else that can help writers release and revitalize. Write love.
Stop and write whole chapters on what you love. Explore it in the kind of detail you’ve been exploring the trauma. Don’t edit yourself, just write about one area of your life that you’ve always loved.
I work with two writers who were dancers all their lives. One recommendation to reinvigorate the process is to stop the chronological writing of the difficult parts of their lives and focus an entire chapter on what they love, dance.
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, write love. I love nature, and felt the Missouri rivers where I grew up were running in my veins, the roots of the trees were in my bones, the soil was my flesh. When I get bogged down, I write the poetry of the land I so loved. It fills my heart and opens a door to a store of extra energy.
If you’re writing memoir or fiction and getting stuck over the drama, over the trauma, stop and think about what you love. What you loved as a child, what you love now. Theatre, books, painting, running, food, stained glass — what area of your life made your heart sing?
Spend a week or a month writing about that and see what it does for your process. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I’m a writing coach. Contact me for a free initial consultation at www.artofstorytellingonline.com.