WRITING TIP: How to know when past troubles can be made into art

“When life is good—or even more than good, when life makes sense—I really don’t feel any desire to write about it,” says author Richard Bausch. “Only when life becomes painful, when I’m suffering, do I feel like I’ve got the material to work on the page. But just writing down one’s troubles isn’t enough. You have to bring new perspective and insight to your suffering. For me, there’s a sure sign I’ll be able to muster the maturity it takes to make art out of my life: When I’m finally able to laugh at a younger version of myself. The things we can’t laugh about are the things we haven’t grown out of yet. Not laughing is, in some ways, a failure to grow beyond things that are still too close, too present, too hurtful. Laughter is a release from all that. It shows we’ve moved on.”