Write Small

I am just now sitting down to write, and facing a challenge. The width of the page is too great.

There is another challenge, too: I’m writing about a subject that goes deep into my memories and fishes around for painful things. I’m writing about ways I’ve been hurt.

In life, I believe, we learn to take pain in doses. When something overwhelms us to the point of feeling like we’ll drown, we find a way out—a lifeline, a drug or painkiller, a coping mechanism. To some extent, these painkillers are necessary. But pain avoided only. . . doubles, triples, compounds to the point where we cannot contain it in a box and seal that box up for good. It remains in us.

So. Taking that pain to the page. Facing up to it. How do we do this? What amount of pain can we handle?

What are you willing to write about? How vulnerable will you be?

There are plenty of factors, of course, in what we allow ourself to share on the page. For many of us, we won’t ever show anyone these words. We’ll keep them to ourselves and maybe having written them at all will be enough. But, unfortunately (because another option is more uncomfortable—) in order to grow from the pain, to give our writing—our stories—a larger purpose, we must share that writing.

Let me make this personal. I must share the stories of the ways I’ve been hurt even if the people, the things or situations that caused the hurt never know about it. Even if they never apologize.

It’s hard to let go of things—let go of hurt, let go of people, let go of our successes, failures, our writing.

But. Down to the logistics.

How do we write about the hard things?

Think small. Think one word at a time. Limit your page space. Write in four word lines, contain yourself to a five-inch box and don’t let yourself go beyond it. You are safe in that small space, that window that only you look through and the only thing you see is the sun. Think definite, exact, think about the smallest detail of the room where that pain happened. Write about that. And let go. You owe nothing to the page and everything to yourself. This is for you.