“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” – Natalee Goldberg
To write – and to share what you write with others – is to be vulnerable.
I can’t speak for anyone besides myself, but I hide pieces of myself – my fears and hopes and faults and accomplishments – in my stories. Sometimes I’m so ashamed of them that I unconsciously bury them so deeply inside the story that I get halfway through before I notice. But this has also helped me through a lot of personal struggles. I can separate the parts that I like from the ones that I don’t and, on page, give myself second chances and transformations and triumphs.
Write about the memories you don’t want to face. Separate yourself from them if you need to. Change some details and actions if you need to. Give yourself the room to breathe and heal your wounds. Give your struggles to your characters and let them work through them.
For me, this advice means writing about the things that are hardest for me to write about. But I think the advice, though hard to execute, is really rewarding when you manage to follow through. It has given my writing more depth and made my characters easier to relate to and more realistic. It has allowed me to better understand myself.
There are times when writing is easy – when the words flow and the characters lead you and the scenes are vivid in your mind. These are the moments in which we fall in love with our words and our stories and our inability to accept limits. Sometimes, however, the times that writing is the hardest are the times that best allow us to grow (as a person and a writer). Don’t be afraid to write messy. You don’t have to show anyone these scenes and stories and characters. You just have to keep writing.