10 Tips to Help You Write About Emotionally Charged Topics

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Writing advice
Tags: , , , , ,

Business writing normally is not an emotionally charged task for a writer. It’s all about aligning facts and creating a story that generates emotions in the reader with the goal to inform or lead to action. However, we write for many different purposes and sometimes, with non-business writing, you as the writer must deal with an emotionally charged topic. This can be the most difficult writing to undertake. 

Writing about emotionally charged topics has two sides to it. First you have to deal with your emotions in having to write the piece, and second, you must find the proper words and voice to craft the piece.

The types of projects that can be difficult to write range from having to create copy for something you don’t like or is opposite your point of view, contacting companies that you’re not satisfied with their services, recommendations for terminated employees, a blog post to get your point of view across for something you feel passionate about but might offend someone, or crafting a letter to a friend in difficulty. As a poet I also have to craft poems for specific occasions and to express intimate sentiments to individuals. Hardly as easy as writing one about the delights of summer!

Here are 10 tips on how to make the task easier: 

1. Write out what you want the piece to accomplish. This will help you stay on topic and not digress.

2. Know your audience. Is it one person? Then your job is easier. Try to get some information on that person and his/her’s orientation to the subject matter. If not an individual, than think as to who would be your readership, what are their points of view, likes, dislikes.

3. Make a list of “hot” words. Ones that you want to use to trip off emotions and ones you must avoid. 

4. Come from an objective, not a subject point of view. Even if you are writing to a friend, starting from the topic’s “big picture” will help you most.

5. Revise, revise, revise. This is the type of writing that takes many passes and revisions. So start with a “brain dump” before you even consider writing the “draft”.

6. If the going is really difficult, you could be dealing with a blocked emotion. Separately write out what you are feeling, either about the topic or the piece.

7. As you reread a version, ask yourself if this is the emotional tone you want to get across.

8. Read it out loud, than read it to someone else to for feedback. What you think it is saying, when someone else is reading it might pick up an entirely different emotion.

9. All of the above are especially important if this is going to be an e-mail or internet posting. Be doubly sure you have crafted it the best way possible before you hit the send button. Remember, cyberspace is unforgiving! 

10. If you are stuck, talk to someone about it. Or read other similar pieces that you’ve written in the past. I sometimes reread a lot of my old poems to get inspired.

I  have written poems about 9/11 and Ground Zero (view my writings in my World Trade Center Journal and I can tell you they were some of the most difficult pieces to do. Each year I also have to write a poem to read at my town’s 9/11 ceremony. How, after 13 years do you keep that emotionally fresh? And how do you make it specific to the 2001 event and yet not “beat a dead horse”? But my most difficult one was to write about an artist friend of mine who passed away. This poem was to be posted on a gallery’s website AND given to his grieving family. All emotionally heavy duty stuff that you will probably never have to deal with. But the method of attacking the topic, getting through the writing, and producing an excellent piece of writing that’s spot on is still the same. I hope these 10 tips will help you the next time you are faced with this type of writing.



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