Where to Start When Writing From The Heart
I have filled this column with tips on how to write your book, but for this column, I am going to discuss the “why” you want to write a book, specifically, that you want to be courageous.
Writing a book is often therapeutic for people. I have heard many times that people have used writing as a way to heal from something traumatic or emotional. In my case, my first novel, The 1776 Scroll, was completed because I needed therapy. Throughout my life, I have always used writing as a therapeutic way to deal with complex emotions. When I had a broken heart, I wrote. When my friends’ mothers died of cancer, I wrote. When I dealt with deaths of people close to me, I wrote. When I was happy, I wrote. And, when I was lonely in Arizona, I wrote my first novel.
Let me explain. At the time, my husband and I were living in Maryland, which was one and half hours from my parents and sister, and two hours from my other sister or brother. We also were 30 minutes from my father-in-law and brothers-in-law, and an hour from my sister-in-law and my other brother-in-law. My husband was working for NASA as a government contractor, but the Columbia Shuttle had just exploded. All shuttle flights were canceled. My husband did engineering work on the Hubble telescope, which was put on hold because all flights were canceled. Therefore, he needed to find another job. He found one in Arizona for the Department of Defense. We had to move away from everything we had known with three young children across the country. This was the reason I was lonely. We knew no one in Arizona except our immediate neighbors. We never lived anywhere except Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our friends were in Maryland and Pennsylvania. So, to help with my overwhelming sense of loss, I started to write when my children came home from school. In a few months, I finished a manuscript and eventually, got it published. That gave me inspiration to publish the second, The 1776 Inn. I am currently working on my third, The 1776 Musket.
Courage Is Key to Healing
While my story isn’t tragic, it shows that writers often use writing as therapy. To use writing as therapy, you have to be courageous, especially if what happened left great scars. For example, I currently have a client who has overcome cancer and domestic violence. She courageously put her story into words so others can have courage to get through their issues. I have another client who had endured atrocities when she was younger. She now uses her story to inspire others, but first, she had to have the courage to let others know her story.
It takes a lot of courage to write a personal story for everyone to read. You have to be ready for the emotional overload, but if you do it right, your book will take away your emotional pain, and you might allow others to remove their pain as well.
How Do You Capitalize on Your Courage?
It’s not enough to write a book based on your tragedy. You have to make the book something others want to read. They don’t want to be depressed. You don’t want them to say, “What does this have to do with me?” You need to write the book in such a way that speaks to universal themes – love, pain, fear, etc. You have to use your experiences as examples only and not the whole. This is why you need to do research. Even if you want people to be inspired, you will do much more inspiration if three people experienced the same feelings you did.
Often, when people are dealing with something emotional, they will keep a journal. Then, they want to turn the journal into a book. The journal is a good starting point, but you need to step back from the journal and ask tough questions that readers will ask. You need to find outsiders to verify the points in your story. You need to use statistics. Even though numbers are about as personal as artificial intelligence, they give your feelings and story credibility. People will support your book if you show them they are not alone.
If you use journaling as your first step, find others who are feeling the same emotions and you rely on your courage to write, then you will produce a high-quality book that is therapeutic for you and others.