Writers Must Write, Even When it Hurts


By Tammy Karasek


Writers are often seen tapping on keys or writing in journals in all sorts of corners at coffee shops, park benches, and the like. I’m often one of them, and if you’re reading this post, I’m probably not wrong when I think you are one of them as well.


I’ve spent time tucked into a corner writing on a current fiction story or two that beg for attention. I tune out the noise of the establishment and work away. My non-writing husband often asks why I can crank out words there, but can’t do the same thing at home. It blows his mind how noisy a coffee shop is and can’t understand how I can ignore those noises. I laugh and tell him it’s because they aren’t my noises. Yes, I sometimes notice them, but I don’t have to jump up and take care of them. It doesn’t belong to me, not my problem.


In a recent discussion about this, he admits it still boggles his mind about tuning out those surroundings and their odd sounds. Then I said something to him that actually made both of us stop talking and look at each other. “Those noises at a tea or coffee shop don’t bother me and keep me from working because they make no difference to me what they are or if someone is taking care of them. What does bother me and stalls my writing are the hurtful noises that are in my head. Those I can’t ignore.”


I’d never said that out loud to anyone, but there it was, out into the air for one person sitting across from me to hear. And now I needed to own it and share how I’m working on that issue. I’d like to share the same with you today, and I hope I offer you help if you also struggle with this.


Five things to help me write when there are hurtful noises blocking my writing:


  1. When I’m staring at that blinking cursor and nary a word will come to me no matter how hard I try, I pray for the Lord to show me what I’m subconsciously thinking about. Sometimes I know, often I’m trying hard to forget, but the forgetting isn’t working.
  2. Once I identify the brain-blocker, I ask myself why it’s still bothering me. Was it hurtful words a person didn’t own? A time when my reputation was slandered and I was left with many believing the storyteller and wrongfully judging me? Another rejection of some kind? Or even being deceived by a family member or friend? 
  3. Now that I’ve pinpointed the hurt and I’ve asked myself the important question of why it’s still hanging on, I move on to a new-for-me productive action to use this hurt for something good. 
  4. I have a Word document folder I’ve entitled Words Written While it Still Hurts. Each time I write for this folder, I create a new document and title the piece with exactly what was hurting and hanging onto my mind. 
  5. And then I write without holding back any thoughts. These words will not be shared with anyone. I may never look at them again. Or I might. Yes, this may be what you may write in a journal or have always done, but I type way faster than I write, and this allows me to unload a lot of thoughts and for sure a whole lot faster.


This has helped me process some hurts as you might imagine. But what I never expected to happen is how I have used this in my writing. Recently, as I worked on a scene in my current story, I found I couldn’t write a scene where the main character was mad at one of the other characters. Every time I wrote the scene, then read it out loud to myself, I didn’t feel any tension or anger from the character. Try as I could, I always ended up making the dialogue seem forced or fake.


Then I remembered my little tool in Word where I’d written different situations while the feelings were fresh. I scrolled down the titles and found one talking about being totally ticked off. Bingo! Not a proud moment, but truthful and real. I read through the piece and remembered how mad I had felt from that situation when it happened. I was then able to go back to my scene and put some emotions into it that were raw and authentic for the reader to feel how upset the main character was.


While I’m not at all suggesting you keep a log of hurts if this could be strong triggers for you, what I’m trying to offer is you writing a sentence or two first of what happened as your reference point. Then write all those feelings still taking up rent in your mind. Case in point—the anger one above was anger at myself for allowing someone to take advantage of me. Again. I have forgiven them. We’ve made peace, but I was still mad at myself and didn’t realize it.


Next time you find yourself in a writing pause of deep-down feelings hindering your work, might I suggest you sit down and write about those feelings. It could be sadness from loss, rejection from another publisher, hurtful words from a friend, or even a time when you’re so happy you could burst. Stop and either start a file in Word on your computer or a handwritten journal and capture the full feelings. You never know when it can become your personal resource for creating richer scenes.


How about you? Do you have something you pull from to aid you in sharing good, nitty-gritty feelings in your writing?

Photo by Dev Asangbam on Unsplash

Tammy Karasek uses humor and wit to bring joy and hope to every aspect in life. Her past, filled with bullying and criticism from family, drives her passion to encourage and inspire others and show them The Reason to smile. She’s gone from down and defeated to living a “Tickled Pink” life as she believes there’s always a giggle wanting to come out!


A writer of romantic suspense—with a splash of sass—her debut book, Launch That Book, released in 2023. She’s published in a Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments. She’s also a writing team member for The Write Conversation Blog, Novel Academy, Blue Ridge Conference Blog, The Write Editing, and more.


Known as The Launch Team Geek, Tammy helps authors launch their books. You’ll also find her as a Virtual Assistant for several best-selling authors, the Social Media Manager for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Founding President and current Vice-President of ACFW Upstate SC, and Founding President of Word Weavers Upstate SC. Connect with Tammy at https://www.tammykarasek.com.



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