Today’s guest post is coming from Jen Cross, author of Writing Ourselves Whole: Using the Power of Your Own Creativity to Recover and Heal from Sexual Trauma. Jen is a brilliant writer who’s led transformative writing workshops through her organization Writing Ourselves Whole since 2002. I am so honored Jen took the time to share her awesome writing wisdom with us.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
This quote, attributed to Pablo Picasso, is my latest obsession. Over and over, these words ring in my head. All the projects I keep putting off, that I tell myself I have plenty of time to complete, are clamoring for my attention. I make time for paid work, for house work, for the dog, for family. For television, for administrative tasks, for cleaning up the yard waste and making sure it gets into the green bin.
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.