How Do You Write when the Story is Hard?

So just how do you write something that is… hard? Something that is hard to explain, it’s complicated, it resists breaking down into the elemental pieces of word, sentence, paragraph?

How do you approach a piece of writing that isn’t about the technical difficulty of a concept – but about the emotional side?

What do you do when the meaning behind the words, the message you want to share, is elusive?

And how do you handle the line between memoir and a how-to? Navigating the muddy channels of revealing the truths from your own story to bring peace, enlightenment, teaching to the readers?

How do you get into that and not walk away?

032916-HardWritingThere was an experience last week that changed me. I knew in the moment that I was being changed – I flung myself into it with open heart and bright-eyed excitement knowing it would happen, welcoming it in, understanding that the initial choice to even start would result in alterations.

But now…

Now I’m in an interesting place, one that is uncomfortable. One that is clearly showing the untaken steps of “Kim the Author” – and highlighting, rather painfully, the miles ahead of me on the writer’s journey. Miles, that frankly, I thought I’d already tread.

Humility isn’t one of my greatest virtues.

I’m working with three clients who are writing “teaching” books – that are really thinly-veiled memoirs. Three clients, three authors, who I’m in awe of as they bravely are unearthing their stories and their demons and laying their bones upon the page. Three people who are staring unflinchingly into the mirror of their message and not only bringing that message forth onto the page, are doing it with a literary aplomb that is enviable.

And you see… I’ve been tasked with the same journey. This past week, Ben and I went on an Epic Adventure (yes, with capital letters). This isn’t my first such outdoor adventure that pulled me apart into my elemental self and recreated me in a whole new way. It’s not just the spiritual – although that is powerful – but the physical changes wrought by sun, wind, earth, and water.

How do you write your emotionally-charged non-fiction story? #amwriting Share on X

But Ben said something to me as we were finally back at the truck, loading up gear, and thinking of tasks that were no longer swallowed up by survival… He told me that it was time to take these transformations and write them down. Not as a travel journal for him and me, but as a manifesto that would Bring Meaning. Finally, a book about business – my business and myself – and one that I’d been avoiding.

Because with 16 books of my own written and published, I’ll still admit that I’ve never been called to write one that is actually about writing or publishing or any of the myriad of things I do in my business. I did quickly realize that these transformations are not material for the blog – it’s just too big and probably won’t be written in my usual “one take” style that needs minimal editing.

For now, I’m realizing that the first order of business is to create the space in my daily writing practice to craft this story and share this message. Because it’s Big, and Hard, and Meaningful I know I’ll do what so many others do – avoid. But that serves no one.

So back to the craft of writing. Back to the magic of words. Back to poetry, to story, to metaphor. Back to all the things that drew me to the power of words in the first place.

And I know I’ll walk away from this book a transformed woman.

Kim Galloway
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