a thorny challenge for writers

Do you write from your pain?

A common question for writers

With an enigmatic answer.

An answer many believe holds the key to moving, unforgettable prose.

In her book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg says this:

“To begin writing from our pain eventually engenders compassion for our small and groping lives. Out of this broken state there comes a tenderness for the cement below our feet, the dried grass cracking in a terrible wind. We can touch the things around us we once thought ugly and see their special detail, the peeling paint and gray of shadows as they are–simply what they are: not bad, just part of the life around us–and love this life because it is ours and in the moment there is nothing better.”


“Compassion for our small and groping lives,” she says.

Epiphanal, really.

After all, isn’t that what we long for?

Isn’t that what readers long for?

For the places untouched and unnoticed to explode into possibility and hope.

For thorns to become something marvelous instead of objects of blood-letting pain.

These ought to be the goals of the writer, yes?


If only we accomplish this

within ourselves

and work it out

onto the page.


4 thoughts on “a thorny challenge for writers

  1. I am so blessed, even my pain is not so bad! I love it when a writer can triump over pain. Perhaps I should have had more, but alas, not so. I do understand the pain in others, and those who were abused and had it so rough. If you can learn from the scriptures, it is all there, we can experience and understand what they went through and transfer that pain into our painless writing. 🙂

  2. Personally, I believe writing from pain is what marks the writing as uniquely ours. It reflects the experiences and lessons we’ve learned and allows us to write from a place we know intimately. That’s what makes it excellent.

  3. Hi Amy! It’s been a while since I’ve been here. Im glad I found this post. I love your quote “For the places untouched and unnoticed to explode into possibility and hope.” I totally agree. I’ve come back to writing because of the current pain season that I am enduring. Thank you.

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