A scattershot post on the pleasures and problems of writing while in pain

Writing while in pain is cathartic. It takes a difficult condition and lets the movement of your fingers do what the brain struggles to do. It serves as a release. An outlet for grief.

Writing can help process the grieving process and make sense of your pain.

Every twitch of muscle fiber, every moment of typing brings you another step closer to healing. To closure. 

The only problem? Reader reaction. Because as therapeutic as such writing may be, reading it can be difficult. Uncomfortable. Embarrassing. 

Writing While Hurting Is Needed

In any medium, hardship leads to great art. During dark days, we’re more honest with ourselves. Whatever protective coating we hid behind is stripped away. We hurt, and the hurt comes out in every brush stroke, note, or word.

As an author, it is your job to share your stories, warts and all. However, as you sort through your sordid past of drugs and other unsavory vices, take caution. Make sure your story is indeed yours.

Don’t let your index finger type out stories that don’t belong to you. Don’t use your position as an author to harm others. And don’t forget that everything written will have a reader.

This includes that hateful email you were about to send, the Facebook post you know will put people in their place, and the diatribe on the overuse of electronic devices.

When writing in pain, you can’t be too careful. Ideas are dangerous, and unguarded speech may feel good in the moment, but the relief it brings doesn’t last long.

How to Avoid Future Pain When Writing Today

To avoid making a mistake you’ll soon regret, write your first draft in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Save it. Sleep on it. Give yourself a few days or weeks to edit what you wrote. You may find a softer, more winsome way to convey your message. Or maybe you’ll lose your nerve and delete the writing altogether.

Either way, you win. You practice damage control. You don’t burn bridges with your mother or father, aunt or uncle, coworker or soon-to-be-former boss. Instead, you do one of the tasks all writers must do. You build your writing muscle and editing eye, without losing a friend or family member.

Should you avoid writing while in pain? No. Just do it responsibly. There is a movement to say whatever you think, as loudly as possible. This has no regard for the lives that are impacted. Distance yourself from this harmful practice. Write honestly about the human experience, but do it in a way that builds up all your readers, whether that consists of one person or the entire world.

Need help cleaning up your writing? I can do that.