Write From the Soul

I recently began helping a friend write a screenplay based on her life. She had gone through some pretty horrific things in her childhood and was now ready to get it out there. Put it on paper. She’d hoped that it would not only be cathartic but an inspiration to all those who’d endure similar situations.

I was proud to be a part of the project. I knew that it would not be easy for her; it would drudge up faded memories and force her to go places in her mind that she’d tried to forget for the past 15 years. But it was necessary.

We decided that to protect certain identities we would write it as a fictional tale leaving, of course, the truest elements intact. Plus, we wanted to take some creative liberties with some of the characters. I was fine with it. Once we got started I asked probing questions. When ghostwriting you really have to do this. I was not there so you needed to get a real feel for the story. It was important to extract not only facts, but the spirit of the story. As author, E.L. Doctorow said: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” This is important. It is always important.

As the questions became more specific she would often break down in tears. This continued on for weeks. Her sleep was disturbed, the memories became like healed wounds being ripped open. At one point I wondered if she was really ready to do this.

You hear often, write from the soul. It sounds poetic and courageous. And indeed it is. It is also difficult and grueling. It is painful and tedious. It may badly hurt before it feels good. And that is OK. Let it pour, let it flow. When you are done your truth will be a refreshing spring to some reader with whom you share a like experience. The only difference is you were able to articulate it in a way that the reader could not. Truthfully, isn’t that the case with a gut-wrenching work? It could be a singing artist, writer, painter, or rapper. They are able to say what we can’t. This is what connects artists with their audience.

Write from the soul. Put it on paper without stopping to evaluate whether you have said too much. Simply write. You can edit later. Don’t worry about whether you will offend or embarrass. You can always change names, events, etc. Writing, especially fiction writing in its purest form transfers the reader from where they are to where the story takes place—you forget that there is a writer and can only see what has been written.
Today, when you take pen to paper, do it without fear. Do it without reservation.


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