Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Writing through the pain: What happens when real life overshadows the happily ever after? -- by Tina Vaughn

Three months ago on August 13, my husband, ten-year-old daughter and I were busy getting ready for the arrival of our newest family member, a darling baby girl who seemed to enjoy tap-dancing in my ever-growing belly.

On August 14, she died.

This isn't a post about stillbirth. Or heartbreak. Or grief. I'll save those painful thoughts and dark musings for my private journals.

This post is about writing romance. Plain and simple.

How can we continue to write the happily ever after when real-life tragedy strikes?

I'll preface the following suggestions with this disclaimer: I'm not an expert…on anything. These are just a few tips that, in recent weeks, have helped me start writing again.

  1. Find support. Surround yourself with people who love to read and write and friends and family who encourage and uplift you and your craft. This will help you stay motivated.

  2. Write sad scenes. Write angry scenes. Write the Black Moment. It's so difficult to write those sexy scenes and sweet romantic moments when your heart is breaking. Pour that emotion into your writing. Fiction is a perfect outlet for your grief, frustration and anger.
  1. Listen to some of your favorite songs or playlists. Watch one of your favorite romantic movies. Read a new book you've been looking forward to. Re-read one of your favorites. Go for a walk or run. Find inspiration wherever and whenever you can.
  1. If you typically write in front of the computer, then scribble in a notebook or journal instead. This small change may be just the spark you need.
  1. Set goals. If you are published and have an editor, then chances are you already have deadlines, which will help keep you on track. If you're unpublished, set your own deadlines. Want that chapter finished in five days? Mark it on your calendar and make a commitment to meet that goal.
  1. Take a break. You may not have the time, energy or desire to write. That's fine. Give yourself permission to rest…for a while. But don't wait too long. A prolonged absence from your work in progress may make it harder for you to resume your writing.


What helps or motivates you when writing gets tough?

What do you do when real life intrudes on your fiction world?

What are your suggestions for overcoming or using your own grief, and other emotions, in your writing?


  1. I am so deeply sorry for your loss, Tina. I'm thinking of you and your family....
    To answer your question, sometimes I find comfort in writing about the things I am hurting most over, but other times, I relish in the ability to escape them in some imaginary world. I hope you're finding some comfort. Hugs. :(

  2. Hugs Tina, but glad that you're writing again and hope you're finding some relief and enjoyment in the process. I love your list and really I think it comes down to whatever works for the individual - just don't give up, keep trying, and you'll come through in the end.

    1. "Just don't give up, keep trying, and you'll come through in the end." Perfectly stated, Nina. Thanks so much!

  3. Oh, Tina, my heart goes out to you and your family. I thinks it's great you're able to get back to writing and are willing to help others.

  4. Tina, my heart is breaking for you. My deepest condolences on the loss of your precious baby. I have written at my darkest times, too. It was deeply painful, but it helped me to arrive at some kind of understanding. I hope you are surrounding yourself with love.

  5. Thank you for sharing this, Tina. And yeah, it's really hard to write when life around us seems so dark. Even bad vibes between me and my husband can throw a monkey wrench into the flow. I like the idea of finding a scene that matches the emotions. We live or we fight living... follow your heart. Sometimes living means embracing a little dark side and then purging it later.

  6. Oh Tina, my deepest condolences for the loss of your little baby. I love your list and your determination to get back into it. I have written during painful times and find it can be therapeutic and cathartic. Thank you for sharing...lots and lots of hugs. xo.

  7. Tina, I'm so very sorry to hear of your terrible loss and full of admiration for you coming here to share your thoughts. I think in those dark times we all have, it's best to follow your instincts: write if you want to, let it go if you don't. But having structure, routine and displacement activity can also help. Be kind to yourself at this sad time, Tina. Big hugs. x

  8. I'm sending you a big hug and a squeeze, Tina. I’m so sorry for your loss. I've been there, so my heart goes out to you. Continuing to write is hard - especially when it's raw emotion that you're putting on the page. Yet that’s how the most powerful stories are created and true connections between readers and characters are formed. You have some great advice here – I’m just glad you took it. But whenever you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, be sure to ask those who care about you to help you find the switch. Take care. xx

  9. My sincere condolences for you and your family's loss. It's really great to see you out and about again, and I love your list. You are so very brave. Hang tight with those that love you. **hugs**

  10. Hey lovely Tina, sending you so much love, strength and support from all of us over at The Minxes. We're all thinking of you and holding your hand across cyber-space. xxx