Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writing from the Heart

I'm a heart writer. I love writing from the depths of my pain and joy to encourage others. For years I only journaled my thoughts. However over the past few years, I've written for publication from those deep places. Being vulnerable isn't easy. Many writers still won't go there. By choosing the safer route, they offer readers a nibble and leave them hungry and unsatisfied.

Here are a few tips to writing from the heart:

Tap into your highs and lows. By getting in touch with our emotions, we write more authentically and with passion.

Be courageous. We all experience fear. What we do with that anxiety is what makes the difference. When you're scared, try moving forward anyway. You can always hit "delete" later.

Focus on the readers' needs more than your own. Put yourself in the reader's position, what would you want to know? Don't hold back. Give the reader all of you. They want the raw deal. Aren't those type of books your favorite? They are mine.

Stop worrying about what people might think. In life, people will judge us. When I wrote about my abortion experience, I panicked about being exposed. But I had to keep telling myself I wrote my story to comfort others who suffer silently. This battle never goes away for me.

Please understand not all writers are called to write about the depths of the heart. You might be a business writer or a journalist. Still you can pour your heart into the craft and each piece. But if you choose to write from your heart, run with it. Pour your soul into your work. Don't look back or take a detour. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Beth, Scoti, and I are cheering you on. Hopefully we offer you a drink of refreshment here--along your writing road.

You can do it!

(All comments until January 31st are included in our two giveaways, click here for details.)


jen said...

[Put yourself in the reader's position, what would you want to know?]

This is a great reminder.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Writing honestly is risky ... and it is also a question of timing.
I may choose to delay writing about a topic for a few years to give myself time to heal or to give myself "distance" from the experience so I can see it from all angles.
Or, to write honestly about a topic, I may use a pen name to protect my privacy--or someone else's privacy. Is it any less honest to not use my real name? No. Some topics are just too personal that you need the ability to step away from it to tell the story.

Just thinking out loud.

elizabeth said...

Good topic. Yeah, this one is hard for me. I really respect the courage it takes to write from the heart and be vulnerable in that way, and I appreciate reading other writers who do that.

I recently wrote, from my heart, the "about" page for my blog. It took me a couple of months to get the courage up to actually write it and post it (about how my recovery from bulimia six years ago had been a major part of my faith journey). I had it up for a few days, but then took it down because I saw on my blog stats that it had been read several times, yet it was met with complete silence (in other words, no comments) by all but one person--someone who had just started commenting on my blog like the day before (and I have friends I know outside of the blogosphere who read my blog, too, but most of them already knew that about me). Maybe people just didn't know what to say. I don't know. But, for some reason, the silence got to me...so, I took it down. And now I regret having posted it at all.

However, I can't help thinking about the times I have opened up about that with someone and it actually really meant something to that person, and how maybe someone struggling with body image, etc, would find value in reading about that. But, I just couldn't handle the silence this week. It was brutal.

Beth K. Vogt said...

And you probably wondered why there was silence here too ...
I ran off to a writers conference and am just now reading the posts and the comments.
I applaud your bravery, your stepping out in honesty and vulnerability.
It is scary, scary, scary. And sometimes the silence is the most frightening.

I am attempting a new level of honesty myself over at www.theaccidentalpharisee.blogspot.com.

Thanks for sharing.

elizabeth said...

Hey Beth - thanks for the reply. :-) Yeah, it is scary. I'm actually rewriting that page now, so I took it down from my blog. I'm hoping to get it back up again soon, however. It's taking me longer than I expected to find the right words for it, but that's okay. I'm letting myself take my time with this one.

I really like your new blog, and it was part of what inspired me to be more courageous and open about myself (by writing my about page), so thanks for inspiring me! Would you mind if I placed a link to it (the accidental pharisee) on my blogroll, or would you rather not have it be that public?

Beth K. Vogt said...

Go ahead and link it. I am going to get an RSS feed. It's a book idea too ... so I might as well get comfortable, right?

And the blog is helping me unravel my thoughts.