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Write Where it Hurts

At the recent ACFW Conference in St. Louis, my writing critique partner Deb Raney and I taught a class together and part of my session included “writing where it hurts.”

It’s often said that God never wastes a hurt. It’s true. And it’s especially true for the writer. Every experience you’ve been through, especially the painful ones, gives you an opportunity to make your writing deeper, richer. If you’re willing to “go there.”

In Terri Blackstock’s bestselling novel Intervention (2010 Carol Award Winner), Terri very bravely and openly wrote from the depth of a hurting parent whose child is struggling with an addiction. Terri sought permission from her daughter, who willingly gave it, and God took that pain and hurt and has used it to give others hope and direction in this very powerful story.

In my own book, Revealed, I never set out to write about child sexual abuse, and yet the backstory of the female protagonist wove its way through the story, and I found God using my own experience of being sexually abused as a young girl in the character arc of Annabelle Grayson. I didn’t see that coming and frankly, I didn’t want to “go there.”

I’d been through counseling earlier in life, many times, and thought all of that was behind me. And while it was in one sense, it wasn’t in another. And God had a purpose in bringing the pain of that experience to the surface. That book was a very personal journey for me, and proved to be a very healing one as well.

So when you find yourself at a crossroads with your story, at a place where you realize God is inviting you to go deeper, to revisit a past hurt, don’t shy away from it. Let Him use the pain you’ve endured to bless others and to give others hope.

Let Him add an authenticity and depth to your writing that will make your story far richer and deeper than it would have been had you written it from a safe distance. Trust Him enough to “write where it hurts.”

TAMERA ALEXANDER is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South and live in Tennessee, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children. Tamera’s newest novel, A Lasting Impression, a Belmont Mansion novel, releases November 1st.

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6 Responses to Write Where it Hurts

  1. Tish says:

    Thanks Tamera for this. For years, I not only avoided writing anything. And when I finally gave in to the loving constant pressure of the Holy Spirit, I didn’t want to write from “there”, from my most painful experiences. Your words are confirmation to me that God has a purpose for my pain. He wants to use it to heal someone out there. God bless!

  2. Tamera, thanks for this post. I can so relate. I was busily working on the beginning for a new book, when suddenly God spoke to me and sent me off in a brand new direction. A series, no less! And, it’s all about forgiveness, something I’ve struggled with over the years. I’m nervous about tackling this subject, but God won’t let go, and if we trust Him, he uses these past experiences not only to bring healing to the author, but to others.

  3. Lucy Morgan-Jones says:

    Thank you for your article Tamara!

    I’ve always found true that ‘God never wastes anything’ even though the lesson was painful and I could see no earthly use in it at the time, years later I now can.

    Using lessons learned and stirring up those emotions I can bring depth, and heart felt emotion to my story. Hopefully also encourage and maybe equip others reading it to a healthier and deeper relationship with God, with others and themselves.

    :) Blessings!

    Lucy

  4. Ah, Tammy, that explains why I loved this book the best (of all of the books you’ve written that I have read so far) because it was so heartfelt and realistic. Thankfully I was never abused as a child but I have worked with hundreds of children and adults who were, and this story touched me because I felt the pain of the character. Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  5. Tamera says:

    Thanks, gals, for your comments and for sharing your hearts. So glad we’re on this journey together!

  6. Kelly says:

    So true how God uses our pain to bring a blessing to other’s as well as into our own lives.
    I read one author who made the comment that as we weep over something that we write, the more powerful and moving it is the reader.
    I, too , was sexually abused as a child.
    Each time I share my story, I’m encouraged and blessed to hear another person say that the act of my writing it down has helped them. It’s so good
    to know that God can heal us and bring us together through our adversity.
    This blog encourages me to continue with my writing too, Tamera. Thank you for sharing this personal,though painful part of your life.