Today’s guest blog is from the amazing author Britt Laux. I loved hearing what she had to say about the healing process and I think you’ll like it to! To learn more about Britt, keep reading or check out her Author Spotlight here on the blog as well. If you would like to be a guest blogger, fill out this form and I will get back to you ASAP!
If you’ve read my books, you know I talk about some hard things. All Things New revolves around an abused single mom who lost her mother at a young age to cancer and has a hard time trusting the opposite sex. In Summer at Enid’s, the main character has been cheated on and loses her grandmother – and also has a very strained relationship with her mother.
Life isn’t easy. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s not realistic to tell stories that are. People want real.
They want to feel seen in their pain and struggle.
Writers often find healing through their writing, and I’m no exception. I’ve dealt with some serious stuff while writing my books, and it’s extremely cathartic. Poetry is a more obvious outlet – you can practically feel their hearts bleeding onto the page – but fiction gives us a chance to heal while being anonymous.
You may not know from my work what I’m healing from, and I like it that way.
Because once I put the words out there, it stops being about me and starts being about you. The reader. I know that someone else in this world has the same pain and like I said – they are longing to be seen and understood.
That being said, I’m a huge believer in using trigger warnings and tact when writing. I often refer to the most traumatic events in a character’s life in a passive way. It explains the reason for their behavior, but what I like to focus on is the healing.
I think that’s where a lot of stories go wrong. They detail every excruciating second of trauma but leave their characters hanging when it comes to properly processing and healing. And as a reader, that can leave us feeling…cheated. We’re missing out on the best part of the story.
And if we are going to include the traumatic events themselves, we need to be conscientious as writers.
It doesn’t take much, just a note at the beginning of the book, but that note can be a lifesaver. Literally. You have to anticipate your reader’s needs and be aware that your content could be triggering to someone who hasn’t healed. It could even be damaging.
Because our healing should never come at the expense of someone else’s. As writers we have to be aware of that. It’s not about tossing our work out there for our own benefit. That’s another mistake I see, and I can’t say that I agree with it.
Creation is healing, but there are pieces of creative work that aren’t meant for anyone else to see. I think we need to weigh that in our own hearts, and think about how a piece would have affected us earlier in our healing. We can’t predict how everyone will take something we put out there, but if we remember who we were when we were still raw, we can get a pretty good idea.
Something else we might run into when using our writing as healing is the ‘picking at the scab’ effect. We might think we had done some major healing and were ready to write about it… only to find we get pulled back down into the pain. Healing can be cyclical this way, but it’s important not to wallow. If writing a certain piece, or about a certain topic, is dragging you down then you have to be responsible and step away. I had this happen recently with a side project that’s very dear to my heart. I do think I’ll return to it one day, because it’s one of those stories that needs to be told, but I’ll handle it differently and seek help when I do.
And that’s my last note on this subject – seek out help. When you’re writing about hard things, don’t close yourself off to others. I’m a solitary writer by nature. I don’t have a writer’s group, and I don’t really share much about my work until I think it’s ready to be seen. That doesn’t mean I don’t talk to other writers about difficult things, or even just family.
My husband is my biggest supporter and the only one that knows my whole story. He can see me in my books where others can’t. You need to have those people in your life, whether in real life or virtual friends from the online writing community. They’re your safety net in case those hard topics cause you to fall, and they can bring you back to the light.
Yes, my books talk about hard things and my characters have been through the ringer. But their stories revolve around their healing and what comes after the shadows. Life is a balance of dark and light, and we have to remember that – for our own sake and for the sake of our writing.
Be well, friends and thanks for reading.
Britt Laux has been writing stories since she was a young girl. Moving from elaborately illustrating with crayons to penning coming of age stories as a teen, her current work centers around strong female characters navigating difficult life changes. Both of her published novels also have a bit of (clean) romance. As a mom of three, she tries to balance parenting and creating, and is also an avid reader in her spare time. You can find her on Instagram @brittlauxwrites