How to Channel Pain into Writing in 5 Easy Steps

Turn the painful life moments into art of writing.

Joanna Henderson
Jan 14 · 5 min read
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There’s nothing wrong with experiencing pain, grief and other negative emotions sometimes. Sadly, it’s a part of life, and there is no escaping it. Having that said, hurting emotionally can be a source of endless inspiration. You may feel like hiding under the blanket and ceasing communication with the outside world, and those feelings are valid. But what you can also do instead is channel that pain into creating something beautiful. Writing and other art expressions don’t have to be positive and sunny — on the contrary, they can be quite dark. Edward Munch’s painting “The Scream” doesn’t represent warm and fuzzy emotions, nor does Rembrandt’s “The Storm on The Sea of Galilee.” These paintings reflect fear, pain, and uncertainty; despite that, they are one of the most famous creations in the world.

When pain catches up with you, you have two options. The first one is to let it control and affect your life; the second is to turn it into something creative and productive. I suggest taking the second route, and there are five easy steps to do so.

Step One: Acknowledge the Pain

You are hurting. There aren’t many ways to avoid or escape the pain — doing so will make it come back and hit you even harder. The best thing you can do is to acknowledge your feelings. Admit what you are feeling and realize how much it hurts — it’s the first step to the creative path and feeling better.

Let yourself feel what you feel. Don’t ever apologize for your feelings any thoughts. You’re a human being; you have every right to experience both positive and negative emotions. Acknowledging the pain will help to turn it into a creative experience, such as writing.

Step Two: Determine the Source

What is the source of your pain? What caused it, and is this the usual source? I, for example, struggle with depression. Sometimes I don’t even have a particular reason why I’m feeling down — it just happens. But most of the time, there is a reason behind feeling hurt.

Did someone upset you recently? Maybe something happened today that caused you enormous pain? Or possibly, just like many of us, you were going through events of the past, remembered how much pain someone put you through, and started spiraling down the rabbit hole. It happens more often than some of us are willing to admit. Everyone feels hurt, regardless of something small such as encountering a rude neighbor or a major flashback to a hurtful breakup or betrayal.

The healthy thing to do is let things go and work through your issues. A part of that is channeling the pain into something positive. Creative therapy has been a known way to release stress and emotions, so exploring this medium is a great idea. Some people make clay figures, others play the guitar, and writers — well, we do what we know best: write. Express your pain using letters, a keyboard and editing software.

Sometimes we create the most beautiful things at the lowest points of our lives.

Step Three: Validate Your Feelings

You have every right to feel what you’re feeling. Period. No one gets to tell you otherwise because every emotion is valid. Despite our endless effort to remove negativity from our lives and look at the positive side, there is no way to escape hardships. Life is imperfect; we don’t always get what we want, which means we have to deal with hurtful emotions once in a while.

Pain is a valid emotion. You are rightfully feeling hurt, betrayed, wronged — the list of emotions can be endless. Don’t beat yourself up for not waking up happy and inspired today. Sometimes pain can be a bottomless pit of creative ideas and thoughts. Focus on your feelings and turn them into a piece of art.

Even if you feel 1% less hurt after channeling pain into writing, it’s a win.

Step Four: Express Your Emotions in a Creative Way

It’s time to sit down and write — or do some other creative activity if writing isn’t the medium you usually explore. But if you’re a writer, you know what to do: grab a pen or a laptop, and start writing. Write down your thoughts, note your feelings, express your emotions! Don’t suppress what you’re feeling; share your emotions with the world. Often, raw emotions can be the purest and most honest form of art.

Did someone hurt you a long time ago? Write about it. Did your spouse cause an endless amount of pain? Put it on paper. Expressing that will help you feel better; it will free you from all the hurt you’re experiencing — maybe not forever, but for the time being. It may also make this painful memory just a little bit less painful. Even if you feel 1% less hurt after channeling pain into writing, it’s a win. Sometimes we create the most beautiful things at the lowest points of our lives.

Step Five: Turn Pain into Art and Inspire Others to Do the Same

You don’t have to finish what you’re writing right away. The “naked “emotions on the paper will become the body of your work. If it’s an article you’d like to turn it into, you will develop an introduction and conclusion later. In case you’re working on a book, it can be a new chapter you end up with. As long as you capture the emotions, you’ve done the most important part.

The wonderful thing about art is that you can use it to inspire other people. First of all, you make them feel better. When I read other people’s experiences with depression and anxiety, I feel less uneasy about my own hardships. Secondly, and most importantly, being raw and open can inspire others to turn their pain into an artistic venue. We are all artists by the end of the day, and there is no better reward for an artist than making other people think and feel with their art.

Conclusion

Pain can be awful, but it can also be the best source of inspiration. You deserve to feel every emotion, including painful and hurtful ones. But it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them, and they don’t get to ruin your life. Instead of letting the pain control you, face it and come up with something wonderful.

You’re an artist. Every one of us is an artist, whether we are willing to admit it or not. Use the painful emotions to tell others a story. Not only will it help you with your feelings, but it can become the source of ideas for people you share your art with.

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Think. Draft. Publish.

Joanna Henderson

Written by

Canadian. Mental health activist. Banker and financier who drinks too much coffee. Pursuing happiness and sharing my thoughts with others.

Blank Page

Blank Page is home to stories that help creatives get smarter at writing.

Joanna Henderson

Written by

Canadian. Mental health activist. Banker and financier who drinks too much coffee. Pursuing happiness and sharing my thoughts with others.

Blank Page

Blank Page is home to stories that help creatives get smarter at writing.

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