Everyone has experienced tragedy in their life. Whether it was devastating, damaging, unforgettable, and maybe in the end repairable, we’ve all experienced pain. We have to in order to appreciate happiness, love, and y’know all that crap worth living for.

Here’s the thing. If you’re a writer and have the dream of seeing your work published on some bookstore shelf, then use that tragedy as inspiration for your writing. It’s hard, trust me, but it’s well worth it. Why? Because it’s hard to make work that’s unique nowadays.

I’ve given this topic a lot of thought because I’ve experienced some pretty crazy things. I’ve had a lot of tragedies happen in my life, but I use that in my work. Life is the best inspiration to draw from. I use all those ugly, colorful, heated emotions as my character’s own and apply it to specific situations or characters and have them deal with it. My work is much more relatable as a result.

It’s said that tension is the heartbeat of the story, and all tragedy stems from tension. Use that personal tension to develop characters, relationships, plots, or situations for your characters to face.

I struggled a lot with making use of my own personal tragedy. It started out as negative energy hovering around me, creating “writers block” (if that even exists, maybe it’s procrastination, I’m not sure). It was all I could think about, but I would never share it with anyone. I always thought it was too personal, too embarrassing, or whatever excuse I could think of at the time.

But I found by using that tragedy in stories that I was finally writing again. It was therapeutic and productive. I learned that some of the crazy things I’ve experienced served as really good material in stories. I’d change a few things since I primarily write fiction, but it was finally being used for something good.

Maybe you’re nervous to do that. Don’t worry, I get it. I was too. Maybe you think “my life is boring, no one is gonna care about the shit I’ve gone through,” or “would it really help? Would it really be interesting?” Stop. Just stop. As a writer I learned that it’s important to stick to your true style, self, and tone. Don’t write what you think other people will like. Write as if you’re only talking to yourself, write the book or poem you wish existed. Write to entertain yourself. Isn’t that all that matters in the end? Because that’s the honesty and vulnerability people will appreciate, whether they agree with your content or not.

Meet the blogger:
COURTNEY YOKES is a senior a Hamline University who primarily writes fiction and poetry. Her work as been seen in The Fulcrum and The Rapids Review. Like any writer she works hard to build her publishing credentials, connections, and most importantly her skills as a writer. The world is overwhelming and she’s just looking to make her mark on it.

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