Wednesday, September 6, 2017

6 Steps to Write Through Emotional Pain

Edie here. Today I'm so excited to introduce you to an author I love and admire. Sarah Forgave has a new book of prayers out and it's a resource you won't want to miss. I've convinced her to share a post with us about how to write through emotional pain and I know you'll be blessed by her insight and application. Be sure to give her a warm TWC welcome!

6 Steps to Write Through Emotional Pain
by Sarah Forgrave @SarahForgrave

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

This Ernest Hemingway quote is one of the most freeing yet daunting realities for writers. To be successful, we have to be willing to pour everything out, to emote through our stories and non-fiction works so the reader will feel every last drop of joy and sorrow with us.

This often means revisiting memories we’d rather forget.

When I first started writing my upcoming book, Prayers for Hope and Healing, I knew I would have to draw from painful experiences in my past. But when it came time to write those hardest chapters, they took much more out of me than I ever anticipated. 

As I pressed on, I discovered some steps that helped me write from an authentic place without getting crushed under the weight of my memories.

If you anticipate revisiting similar moments, these steps will enable you to use your pain as a powerful driving force in your writing.

1. Set aside plenty of time with no interruptions.
This writing session isn’t going to be quick and easy. It probably won’t work to write at Starbucks or another public place, or to start writing ten minutes before your kids get off the bus. Look at your schedule in advance and block off time when you can devote adequate attention to this session.

Minimize distractions wherever possible. Hide away in a quiet room, mute your phone, and log out of email and social media sites. Make sure your family members know this is a time when you need to focus. You might even want to hang a sign on your office door if needed.

2. Pray before you start.

When it’s time to start writing, take a moment to sit in God’s presence and ask Him to breathe His words through your fingertips. Pray for strength and courage to go where you need to, and affirm your trust in His love and grace, no matter where this session takes you.

3. Revisit the emotional memory and feel everything.

This is the time to pour it all out. Tune in to your senses and visceral reactions, and don’t hold anything back. You may struggle to know which parts of your story to include. Don’t worry about that now. It’s better to have way too much at this stage than miss key elements.

4. Pause and pray again.
Chances are you’ll be exhausted after what you just wrote. Take a moment to step away and spend time with God. Thank Him for walking faithfully with you—not only in your writing session, but also through the experience you wrote about.

Ask Him to help you enter the next step with clarity so you can best represent your story for readers. Trust that He’ll help you find the perfect balance between the emotional and rational and that He’ll give you a discerning heart to recognize where He leads.

5. Re-read what you wrote and trim.
Now’s the time to re-read your story with an editor’s eye. What details are essential for the reader to feel the emotional connection, and which details will pull him or her out of the story? If you’re not sure on a certain element, you may want to ask a trusted group of friends for feedback.

6. Schedule something relaxing and restorative afterward.
This writing session will likely take more out of you than usual. Block off your calendar for the hours afterward, and give yourself permission to do nothing but refill your emotional tank. You may plan a hike in the woods, a massage, or a movie night with your family. Choose whatever relaxes and restores you, and view this time as a gift to be treasured.

Painful experiences are never easy to document in our writing, but they’re often the key that connects us to our readers in an authentic way. Yes, it’s scary to “sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It’s scary to be vulnerable and revisit memories we’d rather forget. But with God’s help and some thoughtful planning, we can turn our trials into triumphs on the written page.


Prayers for Hope and Healing 

Amid Pain and Weakness…There is HOPE

Serious or chronic medical issues bring a litany of painful and confusing feelings that only someone else who’s been in a similar situation could possibly understand. Sarah Forgrave has walked the difficult road you find yourself on. And she empathizes with the uncertain future you face.

No matter the road ahead, you don’t have to face it alone. Even in the depths of your worst emotional and physical pain, God is right there beside you, offering His comfort, love, and peace.

As you read these heartfelt prayers and devotions, let this book be your manual to help navigate the difficult set of emotions that come with health issues. Read it front to back or go directly to the devotion addressing how you feel at any given moment…when you need it the most.

Above all, know that you are never, ever alone.

Amazon link:

Sarah Forgrave is an author and wellness coach who loves inspiring others toward their full potential. In addition to her book, Prayers for Hope and Healing (Harvest House, October 2017), her writing credits include contributions to The Gift of Friendship, Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer, and the webzine Ungrind. When she’s not writing or teaching, she loves to shop at Trader Joe’s or spend time with her husband and two children in their Midwest home. Visit Sarah at, or at the following sites:


  1. Wow. Very insightful. Lots of truth here. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Molly Jo - Thank you for your kind words! ❤️

  2. Beautiful. Just beautiful. And oh, so true.

  3. Writing can be both, painful and cathartic. You have to put a piece of your soul into it to feel authentic.
    Thank you, Sarah for the helpful tips t how to deal with it.

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