Writing during the Dark Times

A glass heart.When my world imploded on a personal level last September, I found myself incapable of writing about it. I had no words, just an ache that kept me awake at night and threatened to reduce me into a sobbing mess during the day. It took all my strength and energy not to think about that ache so that I could function like a normal human being.

I embraced silence not because I wanted to be silent but because I had no choice in the matter. I wanted and needed to write about my anger and grief, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t write anything coherent about it. I couldn’t make what had happened make sense, and that, perhaps, was one of the harshest blows. Writing is how I make sense of things. Writing gives me a space in which I can think and reflect. Without that space, I become unmoored.

Since I couldn’t write about what was happening and how I was feeling, I wrote about other things. I fulfilled my writing duties for clients. I wrote for my blog and felt as though I was writing the crappiest posts I had ever written. I even wrote a post about how crappy my posts were. I was, in a way, trying to talk about my sadness in an indirect manner.

It’s only now, almost a year later, that I find myself able to contemplate those events, to begin to understand why I reacted the way I did. The reason I can examine and analyze? I’m starting to write about those things. I don’t often write about them on my blog, but they are an underlying theme with some of my latest poems.

I think I may be discovering the truth about writers and dark times or, at the very least, the truth about me and dark times. The truth is that I don’t have to rush to speak about or during those dark times. I don’t have to write about them as they’re happening. I can let them happen. I can be silent in the face of them even as I continue to hone my craft by writing about other things. I can trust that the words that do need to be written eventually will come, and both the page and I will be ready for them.

How do you keep writing during the dark times?


  1. Erin, thank you for sharing something so important. We all need to hear the reminder to be gentle and patient with what is in process on our insides. And, how good it is to hear that it’s normal to not be able to easily talk about it straight off the bat. I had an uncle who always said, “it has to come out, it doesn’t pay rent!” Upset wreaks some havoc when it is kept in, and if I don’t express it, I feel pretty awful. My ways- I draw, and make jewelry. I am getting better at writing about it 😉  writing is new for me. Thanks so much Erin, for sharing your heart. 

    •  @robinshallett You’re welcome. I had to think about publishing this piece. It’s not really in keeping with trying to build a base for business writers, but it’s something that needed to be said. If it offers encouragement to someone else, then it has done what it was meant to do.
      Being upset does wreak havoc when it’s kept inside. I eventually wrote a letter (never sent) and many, many angry or sad or angry and sad poems. I didn’t draw anything. I guess I didn’t have anything to draw about it.
      Jewelry? Do you use all the fancy tools and different types of wire?

      • @Erin F. @robinshallett

      • @Erin F. I think it’s your willingness to share your human side that makes you credible and valuable as a business resource.

        Yes I’ve got all the cool stuff for making jewelry. I started out making a healing amulet after my mom died. It actually became a side biz for me, but I still enjoy working with my hands when I’m upset.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I believe that most artists keep a reservoir of these deep, dark feelings that they draw on when creating. I think we also see this release in the way that some people use twitter and facebook.  I am an introvert, so it takes me time to think about my feelings privately before I can start to share them. Sometimes, I write things only for myself to help sort things out. Often my writing revels things I was not consciously aware I was thinking. 

    •  @RebeccaTodd I’m an introvert, too, and I hate to be put on the spot. I need time to think before I can formulate a response.
      I actually find it more difficult to create if I rely on deep, dark feelings. I’m typically better off when I’m in a tranquil space. 🙂

  3. I think being creative helps through those times and we don’t have to open up about them. There are people that can and do but others retreat inwards. Hope time has helped to heal you in some way.

  4. I’m sure glad you wrote about this subject, Erin. Thank you. I like that you are debunking the idea that you have to write about dark things directly or right away. For me, the writing comes out crookedly and at its own pace. And I find that I can most effectively write about dark things only years after the event. I guess there is also the distinction between what we write just for ourselves and what we write to share with others… For me, any writing that occurs immediately after a big event (good or bad) is more in the realm of personal therapy and lacks any perspective or insight…

    •  @yuvizalkow You’re welcome. I guess it was finally time to write and publish this piece. I’m not sure I’ve written anything else that is particularly effective. Perhaps it will happen eventually.
      I love this line: “For me, the writing comes out crookedly and at its own pace.” Yes! I may have to cite you in some work one of these days. 🙂
      There is a distinction between the two types of writing, but it tends to blur in my world…Does that happen to you since your published works are about yourself or, at least, a version of yourself?

      •  @Erin F. It’s funny because I used to have a clear distinction: I journaled. And I wrote stories. But now I’ve quit journaling and everything I write is a fictionalized version of my true emotional feelings and is intended for others to read… When I go on my book tour in August, I must really get myself prepared to answer the question regarding how much of my novel (whose main character is named Yuvi!) is true. The book is so full of lies and so full of truths that I no longer can distinguish one from the other… So much of the plot is made up. But so much of the emotion is true.