Sunday, August 15, 2021

How to Write When You’re Hurting

By Tammy Karasek @TickledPinkTam

As writers, we sling words around like the farmer pitchforks hay into a feed trough—plentiful and all over. 

Sometimes our words are elusive though. Try as we might, they won’t come no matter what we do. We sit and stare at the taunting cursor and the words don’t appear on the screen, or in our minds. I’m thinking many of you are shaking your heads in agreement at this point. The word slump could be from tiredness, a state of overwhelm, sadness or a long list of other reasons. 
While I’m not going to try to give you suggestions for that dilemma today, I’ve been plunked down into a different, yet equally frustrating situation as of late. The problem? Too many words.

I am smack dab in the middle of a 99-year-old relative slowly leaving earth. Oh, she’s not the problem, her old-grumpy friend is. While I’m working hard trying to do my power of attorney duties from five states away, this curmudgeon is undermining all I do. 

There’s where the excess words are coming into play. I have a lot of words to say at the present time. So many words. Know what I mean?

While my human, sinful self wants to say far more than is needed, my good and kind self-desires to refrain from talking too much. And yes, I do have a good and kind self in there! Wink.

So instead of spewing what’s not necessary, I’ve held it in. The words are brewing. They’re also causing health issues. But still, I refuse to say too much back. Because in all honesty, hurt people—hurt people. 

I am hurt. I don’t want to do the same. 

But what does my situation have to do with writing? I’d like to think it has a lot to do with it or rather for it. I offer to you, if you are faced with this scenario, what I recently did that helped me and brought some laughter back into my broken soul. While Tammy shouldn’t say the things she’d like to, her main character in her current WIP—work in progress—could. Uh huh. 

Because all of this turmoil has given me far too many words—but none, which seem to have value for my book, I decided to do something fun. I’m always looking for a reason to smile or giggle, and boy how I’ve grasped at anything for that. Yet, I still had word count to get done for my book. With my idea I figured, what could I lose?

I opened up my WIP and set up a new scene. Next, I changed the font color to red—as in mad enough to see red! This would let the scene stand out and would be easy to find when I would delete it all.

Then I wrote an entire scene as if it was playing out in an in-real-life encounter and used the words I’d really like to say to work this issue out.

Soon there was an enormous amount of words. A lot. I guess my main character had a lot to say. Or someone did. Grin.

Once done, I shut my laptop and walked away. I had every intention of discarding the entire scene later. But when I looked at it the next day, I realized that the situation I currently walked in had severely blocked my mojo on my fiction story. Getting the hurt that constantly rolled through my mind written down and letting out those words I’d love to say but shouldn’t was freeing. Interesting though, as I read them back, I saw great benefit in those words. 

Seriously. Hear me out. 

I saw phrases I could use in my story. I felt the rawness of the hurt through the words I’d used and then how it would make one of my plotted scenes stronger. 

The phrases, sentences or dialog I found useful I changed to black colored font from the red. Now I relabeled this scene—Bonus Hurt Scene. When I’m ready for it, I’ll know where to find it. And because I didn’t delete the red words for now, who knows but some of those might jump out to me when the time is right. It was a great jump start on a scene I hadn’t thought of yet, but would be written soon. And the release of the captive words opened up my ability to write with those out of the way and heard. Well, sort of heard.

Writing when we’re hurting may be the last thing we want to do. Yet the value of having something real, honest and deep to pull from in your future writing will pay you back in gold. 

What about you—have you made yourself write when hurt? If so, did you ever think of how it could benefit your fiction story or even your nonfiction book or article?


You’ll find Tammy using humor and wit to bring joy and hope to every aspect in life. She’s gone from down and defeated from a past filled with bullying and criticism from family to living a Tickled Pink life as she believes there is always a giggle wanting to come out! All because of HIM.

She’s the Social Media Coordinator for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. President of ACFW Upstate SC, Past-President and current member of Word Weavers Upstate SC and Past-President of Cross N Pens Writers Group. She’s a member of My Book Therapy/Novel Academy. A writing team member for The Write Conversation, contributor for the Learn How to Write a Novel Blog and others. Published in the Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments.

She’s married to her college sweetheart Larry, a mom to their grown daughter, Kristen and excited to add a son-in-law in 2021. Born and raised in Ohio, she now lives in South Carolina. Connect with Tammy at HTTPS://TAMMYKARASEK.COM.


  1. Tammy,

    Thank yuo for this interesting article. Years ago I was writing when my middle son was dying in the hospital. I'm not much of a journal writer but I made notes of dialogue and different stories--just to capture them while the indident was fresh. Then I used those stories later for personal experience magazine articles (which almost every type of magazine will take if carefully crafted (written). My article about teaching my three year old son about the death of his brother was called Schooled In Death and published in Decision when the circulation was 1.8 million. Capture the words and feelings at the time but use them later.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Sorry for your loss of your son, Terry. Using that time when things are raw and writing the words down can then be used later in a constructive way. And in your case, an encouraging and helpful way. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Thank you for your great words. I did write while I was hurting when my dear daughter was killed so suddenly and tragically. But my writing was to help me through grieving when everything was so raw. It was a different scenario, but I certainly see from where you are coming in your writing. I learned a great deal from your blog today - I might add, I too take small sections from my books or stories I have written to compose blogs for my blog page.

    1. Oh Diane, I’m sorry about your daughter. Glad my thoughts gave you something new to use in your writing.

  3. Great post...! Thanks for sharing & hang in there!

  4. Tammy - Once again, great message. I recently wrote a friend when I was thoroughly disgusted over the contradictory, divisive news media - especially about COVID issues (mandatory masking, virtual / in person classrooms, side effects, origin of the virus, fears, etc, etc). I included in that email my own theory about the complexity, strategic intent, and world order consequences of the players behind it all. A "disgusted data dump" with a little - but not much -exaggeration. My own theory; not one I've heard or read before. Certainly within the realm of possibilities. OK, so there was a little venting included in my serious message.
    After reading your post, I've now retrieved this message for use in the character development of one of 2 characters who will appear in my WIP trilogy of mysteries as soon as I determine which story to lead with. I can easily add lots of dialogue around this character's attitude and behavior without affecting the 3 separate plots at all. Thank you for this crafting idea.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

  5. Jay, yay! I’m glad my suggestion gave you an idea for your WIP!! Through our rants, vents and ramblings of true feelings, we can unearth some nuggets to use in our future writing pieces, yes?

  6. Sounds like a great way to process emotions without hurting others. And you gained some healing and some gold for your writing. Thanks for sharing.