An Open Letter to the Writer Within

Take a breath and write what’s buried deep down. Write what hurts most and has the greatest potential to destroy you. Reveal things you’ve never told another living soul. Commit to the page experiences you wish you’d never had. Tell of things you’ve done for which you’d trade your soul to undo. Share so much of yourself that you feel alone and naked and afraid of every glance cast in your direction. Bare your desires and wishes and dreams, even the ones you find silly or infantile.  Expose the weaknesses and strengths that drive you. Do all of this so that the rest of us know we’re not alone in our personal versions of hell, that we’re not the only ones who live life as the contemptible bastards we believe ourselves to be.

But if you can’t reveal these things, if you don’t have the strength and fortitude to expose yourself for who you are, at least create characters based on what’s hidden inside. Bring them to life and tell their stories, their full stories, so we can see there are others like us, even if they exist only in your imagination. Write about the monsters, but give them depth; let us see the youthful bully helping a crippled child cross a busy street. But don’t hide his flaws; let us see him shake down someone else for lunch money.




About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to An Open Letter to the Writer Within

  1. Holly Forrest says:

    Very timely piece. Just saw August: Osage County at Arkansas Rep last night. That writer definitely follows your philosophy.

    Writing is a helluva catharsis. And our lives are often filled with beauty and ugliness in equal measure.

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