At the recent ACFW Conference in St. Louis, my writing critique partner Deb Raney and I taught a class together and part of my session included “writing where it hurts.”
It’s often said that God never wastes a hurt. It’s true. And it’s especially true for the writer. Every experience you’ve been through, especially the painful ones, gives you an opportunity to make your writing deeper, richer. If you’re willing to “go there.”
In Terri Blackstock’s bestselling novel Intervention (2010 Carol Award Winner), Terri very bravely and openly wrote from the depth of a hurting parent whose child is struggling with an addiction. Terri sought permission from her daughter, who willingly gave it, and God took that pain and hurt and has used it to give others hope and direction in this very powerful story.
In my own book, Revealed, I never set out to write about child sexual abuse, and yet the backstory of the female protagonist wove its way through the story, and I found God using my own experience of being sexually abused as a young girl in the character arc of Annabelle Grayson. I didn’t see that coming and frankly, I didn’t want to “go there.”
I’d been through counseling earlier in life, many times, and thought all of that was behind me. And while it was in one sense, it wasn’t in another. And God had a purpose in bringing the pain of that experience to the surface. That book was a very personal journey for me, and proved to be a very healing one as well.
So when you find yourself at a crossroads with your story, at a place where you realize God is inviting you to go deeper, to revisit a past hurt, don’t shy away from it. Let Him use the pain you’ve endured to bless others and to give others hope.
Let Him add an authenticity and depth to your writing that will make your story far richer and deeper than it would have been had you written it from a safe distance. Trust Him enough to “write where it hurts.”
TAMERA ALEXANDER is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South and live in Tennessee, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children. Tamera’s newest novel, A Lasting Impression, a Belmont Mansion novel, releases November 1st.