- Books, Literature, and Writing»
- How to Write
Importance of Writing About Your Conflicts
In every story there is a problem or conflict that the protagonist must somehow overcome. All stories are this way because fictional stories mirror the happenings of reality. Just like every protagonist in a story; everyone is faced with the challenge of overcoming some conflict. For me, I know that being a son of divorced parents is an emotional issue I must overcome. For others the conflict might be a lifelong physical problem, depression or an addiction. It could be an issue of overcoming a fear of something or perhaps a financial issue that people have to fight through. In my short 17 years I realize that conflict can take form in any possible way and strike at any given moment. "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are stronger in the broken places." Ernest Hemingway. Conflict is something everyone has to wrestle against.
As a fan of fiction and a storywriter, I know that conflict is in every story, but what separates great stories from just good ones is the response to the conflict. Equally, in real life your response to your problems means everything. The way I first responded to my parents divorce was not positive. When the divorce happened without realizing it I tried to ignore it. I didn't give myself time to figure out how I felt, instead I just kept busy. I acted like nothing happened, but something did. I encountered a situation that hurt me. At the time I simply wanted that whole mess just to leave. But now I realize messes don't just leave; they have to be cleaned up.
Responding to Conflict
"The act of writing is a kind of catharsis, a liberation, but I never really concerned myself with that. I write because it interests me."- Nathalie Sarraute
I began to write because it was fun and I like to express myself. But beyond just expressing myself the more and more I write the more I realize how much of my own conflicts I write about. Through my writing I have begun my catharsis or cleansing process. I recognized that a lot of my creative writing came from the emotions that I felt from my parents divorce and other issues in my life. Since I am beginning to recognize my pain I am able to progressively respond to those painful emotions. Through writing I have done more than just express myself, I have taken the time to look at who I really am.
Recently, the Kansas City Star, my local newspaper, had an essay contest which asked: What did you do when life threw you a curveball? At first it was difficult for me to think of a curveball or unexpected conflict. However, life helped out and suddenly, presented me with an unexpected situation. Sometimes it's tough writing about those issues that are heavy on your heart, but it's those same issues that make for great writing because only you know how to express your situation. My unexpected situation wasn't anything severe or major, but it was still a conflict in my heart that brought a few painful emotions. Unlike previous situations in my life, however, I responded to this conflict positively. I didn't avoid the pain, but instead embraced my emotions. I allowed myself the time to meditate and write about how this unexpected situation affected me. Eventually, I wrote an essay and submitted it to the Kansas City Star. Fortunately, a few weeks later, I got a honorable mention out of an essay that was birthed from a painful emotion. So whether your conflict be severe like a broken heart or being in a divorced home or something minor like forgetting to bring lunch to work, write about it! It's important to write down your conflicts, because you never know when those conflicts might inspire you to write something great.
In the summer of 2010, Elisabeth and her family left Kansas City to move to Hawaii. I remember the last time I saw her at her farewell party. Her smile overflowed with joy and her eyes still had the same beautiful glow as when I first met her in the summer of 2006.
I remember our last conversation together. I spoke a lot, but didn’t say much. My conversation only served as a large fence separating her from my true feelings.
Recently, she returned to Kansas City to visit. Excited by the possibility of seeing her again, I sent her a text saying: “Would you want to come to the Jazz Festival with some friends ‘cuz it’ll be fun, and I haven’t seen you in forever.” Even more than wanting to see her again, I wanted to re-do that last conversation. I wanted to simply tell her how I truly felt about her.
I was excited at the thought of seeing Elisabeth; seeing that inviting smile, those gleaming eyes once again. I reminisced about our talks after Sunday church services. Just being around her was so easy, so free. I felt ready to tell her how I truly felt about her.
Then she replied to my text: “I’ll have to talk to my boyfriend, and make sure he’s cool with it.”
Sometimes when life throws a curveball, we are caught just staring at the ball as it goes by. It would be easy to just see Elisabeth, and not tell her how I’ve felt about her for almost four years, because she now has a boyfriend.
But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to swing back at the curveball, because that’s the most anyone can do. I’m going to tell her how I feel.