Thursday, September 29, 2016

Find Writing Gems When You Mine Your Life Experiences

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson 

We all want what we write to matter—to touch hearts, change lives, challenge the status quo. 

To that end we search high and low for the words that connect us to our readers.

But what if the gems we’re searching for aren’t hidden in distant places, but instead are buried deep within our own experiences?

Today I’m going to give you the clues to finding those precious nuggets hidden in plain sight. If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to follow this mining metaphor to its ultimate end and show you how to mine your own experiences to make your writing richer.
Mining is hard work, and as I share the miner’s tools of the trade, I’ll be drawing the parallels that I think may help you strike gold.

Tools of the Mining Trade
Miners of old wielded heavy pick axes and bulky shovels. They built sluice boxes and patiently plied the gold pans looking for nuggets. This was necessary because the treasure was often buried under hard rock and hidden in amongst worthless mud.

We face many of the same obstacles when we mine our own experiences. We must dig, not under tons of rock, but beneath rock-hard walls we’ve erected between us and the things in our past that have been painful. We also find that those gems closer to the surface aren’t obvious, but hidden in plain sight beside everyday occurrences. They’re camouflaged to look worthless but are gems of inspiration.

Work Clothes of a Miner
Miners—then and now—are often easy to spot because of their attire. From the metal hard hats, with attached lights, to the tips of their steel-toed boots, everything about them is geared to plying their trade.

We too, often need a hard hat of sorts. Our minds often shrink away from remembering past experiences like a miner needs protection from a rain of stones. Our feet must be shod in a foundation of who we are, protected while we go mucking about the dangerous mine shafts of yesterday. Even the good memories can be dangerous, deceiving us and seducing us into what-might-have-been.

The light we need is the focus of what we’re searching for—the point of our writing. No matter whether we’re looking to expose truth, share hope or something else entirely, we must stay true to our path. It can mean death to wander into a side-tunnel and get lost forever.

Digging out the Treasure
Now that we’re equipped, let’s start the search. Join me in examining our circumstances. Each of us is in a unique place. It’s a convergence of time and space, but even more it's comprised of people and experiences. Don’t waste what God has put inside you or where He has placed you. Illustrate the things you write with what colors your life.

Many of you already do this. How have your own experiences led you to valuable insights you’re able to share through your writing? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation
Blessings,
Edie

TWEETABLES
We want our #writing to matter—touch hearts, change lives, challenge the status quo - @EdieMelson (Click toTweet)

14 comments:

  1. This morning, I was praying about this very thing! It's hard to open those wounds up again, but if it means that my story will touch (and heal) other hearts, then it's worth it.

    Love the analogy, Edie!

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    1. Angie, I'm so glad! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Blessings, E

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  2. I like your analogy, Edie, especially the strain about wearing a hard hat! The whole analogy reminds me of the plaque on my desk that says, "Home is where your story begins." It also reminds me of the sage advice that Donald Davidson gave to acclaimed Kentucky author Jesse Stuart that set him on a prolific writing career (see www.writermag.com/2016/04/11/dennis-l-peterson). Thanks for sharing these points.

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    1. Dennis, thank you for sharing that link! I really appreciate your insight, Blessings, E

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  3. This is very good advice. Though, it might prove painful.

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    1. Tim, initially yes. But I've found going back and writing about the tough times is cathartic—especially when I see my experience helping someone else. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  4. This is very timely for me, Edie. Thank you!

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    1. Martha, thanks for dropping in! Blessings, E

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  5. "Don’t waste what God has put inside you or where He has placed you." When I wrote my book, at times my hand was shaking as I let a painful memory tell the story. We have to remember that everything in life has a purpose.

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  6. God has churned up many memories that produced fear and anger then, but now is showing me how to use them to offer hope for others. From the pain, He gives me joy. Great insight Edie. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Bruce, I really appreciate your wisdom and what you add with your insight! Blessings, E

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  7. Thanks Edie. This is advice we all need. Our lives give us fodder to use - and that's why I write comedy. :)

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  8. Edie, I like the way you open the door for us to look inside. This is the most fascinating subject. I have been working on my journey of self exploration for 30 years. Recently I started a blog to share how this inner walk came about. I titled it DECODE Life Experiences. Thanks so much!

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