No matter how many years you devote to the craft of writing, one question will always still haunt you. This one question pops up when you’re in the middle of writing a scene, and also when you’re lying in bed at night wrestling with self doubt. You might think you have the answer, or a whole set of answers, to this one question, but it always comes back around again. The question is…
A few weeks ago I attended a writers’ retreat that ended up being one of the most creatively intense experiences of my life. I dug deep into my own soul—and with the help of a few insanely brave writer friends—dragged what I found there out into the light.
It was cathartic, but it was also scary as hell.
Sometimes looking into your own wounds—those deep, dark ugly wounds you’ve been carrying your whole life—is like looking into the abyss.
As writers, we always hear about how we should mine our own dark places for creative gold, how all the hard experiences we’ve gone through will be fuel for our writing fire. I truly do believe that…but yet…
Whether we’re writing memoir, fantasy, young adult or literary fiction, there’s one judgment we writers recoil from more than any other. One thing we can’t stand to be called. One thing that makes us cringe to even think we might be approaching it.
We all have those ghosts. The secret you cringe to think of anyone finding out. The memories that surface in the middle of the night when you can’t get to sleep and you can’t stop thinking. The flashes of things that happened years ago that strike like lightning at the most random times.
Every one of us has something from our past that haunts us.
How long have you been working on your masterpiece? Are you in the beginning stages, when all you want to do is lie around and stare into your characters’ eyes and learn all about every detail of their past? Or are you in the middle stages, when you’re getting to the really good stuff and the plot is thickening up like gooey cake batter?
Or are you in that after-the-middle-but-before-the-end part, when it seems like you can’t remember a time when you weren’t working on this project and frankly you’re a little…well…tired and….