As a writing coach online, I never get tired of hearing people’s stories. But for some, the choice to remain anonymous or to share their real identity in their book can be crippling. Why? Because not all stories are created equal. Some pains and traumas are hard to put on paper, let alone tell the world that these injustices happened to you. Old feelings like shame, fear, anger, abandonment, or embarrassment can reappear, and the writer feels emotionally paralyzed at the thought of baring their soul to the world.
I understand. I know what that feels like because I had to work through it myself as an author. The truth is, there’s a lot of pain in life, and it usually involves other people. But you can be both courageous and discreet when you write your book. Sometimes all you need is the courage and a helping hand to take the first step.
Write it Raw, Then Edit
It may be tempting to remain anonymous when you publish your book, but if you do, you can’t offer anyone hope or help. Your readers won’t trust a face in the shadows. They’ve seen enough of those. They need to know that you’re real.
So how do you do it? The answer is to write the first draft of your book raw. Get down all the details and record all the indignities, as long as they’re driven by your Purpose Statement. Purge yourself of what you’ve been holding in and get everything down. Don’t be afraid to name names.
This is where you start. Write a raw draft that holds nothing back. Your first draft won’t be anything like your final draft, so don’t be afraid to get it all down.
After you finish your first draft, you can address the sensitive issues and the people you feel you need to protect. Maybe you don’t need to name names. Many of your characters can likely be defined by their relationship to you: my sister, my mother, my neighbor, her teacher. You get the point.
The extra benefit of identifying people by their relationship rather than their name is that it strengthens your writing. If you have too many names in your book, it confuses the reader and causes fatigue because they’re constantly juggling names and trying to remember who’s who.
Don’t feel like you need to tell the reader where you live either, unless your city or town is an important part of your story. As a writing coach online, I advise my students to concentrate on the message and leave the identifying details out.
Finally, after you’ve written it raw please remember that what you write must be the truth. Your book isn’t the place to smear someone else and risk a libel charge. If you want to write a “gotcha” book, I have nothing to offer you. Your book can be a powerful tool to change lives, save lives, and transform society, but there’s no room for vindictiveness. Write your story, but write it right.
What about you? Are you ready to write it raw then edit? If you or someone you know is ready to share their story, I’d be honored to be your writing coach online and help you take the first step. Contact us today!