Where Don’t You Want to Go – Go There

by | Nov 13, 2017 | Writing Tips

My friend Ilze, who is a gifted group facilitator, says, ‘You can only take others as deep as you have gone yourself.’

Writing is like facilitating – it’s leading people (your readers) into the places you’ve visited within.

As writers, we’ve tacitly undertaken to our readers that we have gone within. Good writing is honest. Honest writing is more than just telling the truth. We have to know what the truth of an experience is before we can write it.

When we write about love, we’ve not only ‘been there, done that,’ but been burned, hurt, thrilled, shocked, broken, transformed by love. And we’ve distilled the best of that inside knowledge into our sentences with a slow and loving hand.

We’re all processing grief, loss, heartache. They’re orphans of our consciousness that lie dormant and that can mask the real story inside of us that is crying out to be told. But we can’t get there without parenting those orphans or releasing them in some way.

What stops so many people from writing, finally is this fear of confronting what they have spent so much time and energy avoiding.

One of my students once said, ‘I don’t want to write about my own pain.’

And that is fair enough.

We don’t all have to write about our pain. But we must write from it.

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

WINGS: Words Inspire, Nourish and Grow the Spirit

We sometimes come to writing believing we need to write a particular story. It’s often a version we’ve constructed to protect ourselves from the real story that needs to be told. It’s a ‘distraction’ story, rather than an authentic one. It’s a front story that we present to the world, like the clothes we wear. It’s presentable and it looks groomed. But there’s often an understory – the narrative equivalent of underwear – that few people see and we don’t generally show around.

Some of us don’t even know what our understory is. Or we pretend we have a different one. I believe that our real writing voice comes from that place, and I encourage you to go there.

So how do we tell if our story is a distraction story, or an authentic one? It’s a distraction story if:

  • It’s too safe: A distraction (or cosmetic) story is a safe story, and a safe story is not an interesting story. A distraction story will usually be some sort of cliché. If you don’t risk breaking apart, find a harder story.
  • No-one changes, nothing transforms: Stories are about character arcs – transformations from darkness to light (usually). Our own writing should mimic the story arc. We should be changed by the end. Writing is all about that journey of moving through pain into transformation. If no-one changes and nothing transforms, there’s nothing really happening, is there?
  • It’s too neat: A neat story e.g. ‘happy childhood,’ ‘the love of my life,’ ‘the worst experience,’… is begging for investigation. The more polished a person’s story is, the more one-dimensional, the more the rubble beneath is being masked. Get your shovel and start digging. Make a mess.
  • Nothing is revealed: every story has a secret at its heart. It’s a secret we may not even know about upfront. It cowers in the deep caves of our story. To find it, we have to get in there and lure it out.
  • It leaves us unmoved: If our own writing doesn’t make us tremble just a little bit, we’re playing it safe. Safe writing is a paddle in the shallows. Be brave. Dive in. Find the story inside you that will change you in the telling, and in turn, those with whom you share it.

In That Place

In That Place When you find it Come back and tell us. What did you see in that starless dark? What heavens deserted you and how did you survive those broken nights in the jungle not knowing if you would ever be found again? How did you crawl from your bed...

When Mothers Kill

Mrs. Large is an elephant and the mother of Laura, Lester and baby who tries – without success - to have a bath with a tray of tea and some scones away from her children. Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy is the bedtime book I always choose to read to my kids when it...

8 Reasons to Write Your Story

As an author and writing mentor, my days are spent writing stories and helping others to write theirs. But every writer I’ve ever worked with (myself included) throws themselves down this emotional garbage chute: why should I write my story? Who will care? What does it matter?

Is the Black Dog Jewish

If ever the human psyche held terrible secrets, and untouchable emotions, the language of modern psychology has opened its dungeons and let those dark hounds loose. We now have words (‘manic depression,’ ‘bipolar,’ ‘seasonal affective disorder,’ post-traumatic...

Twelve Things Your Mum Was Right About

There’ll come a point in your life when you’ll suddenly have a flashback to your childhood. And it will be your mother’s voice. And you will concede – graciously or otherwise – that all those irritating things she used to say to you when you were a kid were actually...

Writing about Ourselves So That Others Will Read It

When we write about ourselves, it’s not dissimilar to writing about a fictional or imaginary character. In Hemingway’s iceberg, we see that what we need to know about a character is vast compared to what we show. This depth of knowledge helps us to create richly...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This