WRITING TIP: The power of writing to shape life

Often what spurs us to write is pain — something needs to be understood and integrated in a way that moves us forward. To simply express the pain may give us temporary relief, but it is not ultimately helpful, as it can make the story that surrounds it feel even more solid and real to us. Better to take it a step further and find meaning and use for the pain — even if embodying this new shape of things is currently beyond your power. In a 1969 interview, EB White put it beautifully: “A writer should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”