Image credits: Tulip Driven Life
Let’s face the facts: if you’re a writer you’re going to write about your own personal real-life experiences, even if what you are writing is fiction. It’s only natural and something that all good writers must do. Sometimes things in our life can be defined as tragedies. Tragedies are events in which have the ability to leave many permanent emotional scars on us. They change us, for better or for worse and are not things that easy to just simply “get over” or even come to terms with or make peace with. This is part of what makes tragedies great for writing inspiration. When we write about our experiences dealing with tragedies we are allowing ourselves to free our souls of things that may have been buried deep within us for some time. In a way it can be like searching for our own sense of inner peace, understanding, or acceptance of the situation. It can also be a way to solicit advice to others that may be dealing with a similar tragedy in their life, or even just a message that they are not alone.
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Unfortunately, in order to get to that point of inner peace or soliciting of advice, we must recall and un-bury the tragedies we have dealt with. This can be a very emotional and difficult task, as I saw for myself as I was working on my young adult novel dealing with themes such as teenage depression and suicide. Writing the first draft of my novel hasn’t been very difficult, until I got to chapter 9. Chapter 9 is the novel’s climax and most emotional chapter. In this chapter one of the character commits suicide.
My young adult novel is fiction, but it is largely based on real life experiences. A close friend and former classmate of mine committed suicide when I was 12 years old. Even though it happened about 9 and half year ago, it is a tragedy that has forever changed me. My goal with writing my novel is to inspire others to get help, speak up about mental illnesses, and prevent them from having to experience the same tragedy I myself have experienced.
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In writing chapter 9 I was forced to recall the suicide of my friend. Every little detail from what happened before his suicide, when I found out about it, and the aftermath.I procrastinated a lot while working on this chapter because at times it was just too painful to deal with. I try to block out the pain I felt when he first committed suicide, but for my novel I needed to remember it all.
One thing I did to help free me of my procrastination and to help me get chapter 9 done was I live-tweeted the events to the best of my knowledge. I recalled what my day was like at school on the day of my friend’s suicide. I tweeted about what happened after school, how I found out about his suicide,his viewing, what went on after that. I tried to write down every single detail I could remember. It took me three hours and over 100 tweets. I did it consecutively without stopping. I felt that it was the only way for me to “get it all out”. I was afraid that if I took a break I’d never finish it.
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I understand that some tragedies may be too deeply personal for an author to live-tweet about or post on any form of social media, but social media isn’t the important thing to worry about. The important thing is that you’re writing. Even if it’s just in a personal diary…WRITE! Write everything you remember about the tragedy. What happened before? What happened as the tragedy took place? What happened afterwards? What were you thinking? What were you feeling? Do you remember who you were with? What was said?
When you write about the tragedy try to recall every single detail as accurately as possible. This will help you to reflect on the tragedy and how you handled it along with how others handled it. You don’t have to include it all in your novel. Feel free to use bits and pieces and fictionalize it as much as your heart desires. Once you have the tragedy written out scene by scene, fictionalizing it will be easy. The hard, emotionally challenging party of writing it all out is already done with.
Don’t be afraid to write about tragedies. Many of the greatest works of literature are tragedies (Shakespeare, anyone?). If you’re writing fiction there’s no need to worry about the truth, either. Tragedies help people connect and relate not only to your story, but to each other. By writing about tragedies you will be doing someone a favor, someone who may feel alone in their situation will read your work and say, “No, I’m not alone. This person went through the exact same thing.”
Image Credits: Chasing Death: Losing A Child To Suicide
In sum, my advice to you in dealing with tragedies as a writer is this: cry. write. cry. and write some more and don’t stop until you’re finished.