All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Deep Dive

I won't get into my various motivations for choosing this as today's topic. Let's just say that I have my reasons and hopefully you can benefit from the product of this choice. I thought I would talk about the two directions an emotional writing piece can go, and their benefits. And, while any type of emotional writing will unquestionably provide some form of catharsis for the author, there is a specific style can can truly foster growth as both a writer and a person -- the deep dive.

One of my better short stories involves the passing of my grandmother. I was eleven and she was the only grandparent I really got to know, so this was a particularly heavy loss. The story covers the standout points from when we first found out about her passing to the misty, overcast day of her funeral. It meant a lot for me to write about that time in my life, and processing it benefitted me in several ways. And, of course, any story about the loss of a loved one should pull at the reader's heartstrings, which it did, so it was a win for me. Thank you, Grandma Cleo.

However, a similar story about my father's sudden passing received far more emotional feedback from other readers, and I also felt some form of internal growth. I realized the biggest difference was that the story about my father's passing took a different approach. While my grandmother story covered the events and feelings over a period of four days, the story about my father was all set in one instance, one moment, that explored this loss. The story didn't cover a stretch of time but instead took one point and relentlessly explored it from stem to stern. It was a deep dive into that little crumb of time, and it worked amazingly well according to the reviews. Thank you, Dad.

The difference between the broad story and the deep dive is like the approach taken by a reporter versus that taken by a therapist. A reporter brings out the facts through a set of questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. A therapist, however, hears those facts and says (pardon the cliché), "And how did that make you feel?" The deep dive takes that one moment and explores it through the vector of emotions, and can drag up the deeper common elements of a particular event. This makes a story more than one that pulls at the heartstrings; it engages both the heart and mind at once, bringing the reader fully into the moment. The reader is no longer a sympathetic witness to events, now they have settled into the shoes of the author and made an empathic bond to the events. They are experiencing the story much closer now than just reading the facts that the reporter would discuss.

And, of course, the other part of the deep dive is that it challenges the writer to dig into the spots that might be sore or sensitive. As scary as it might feel, the writer can press on as far as they dare. The journey will be tough, and I will admit I shed a few tears while writing that piece, but I definitely came out the other side a better person, and definitely a better writer.

Writing the deep dive isn't always necessary, but it remains an ever-present challenge if you are willing. It's a daring way to approach a subject, but it always produces good returns. 

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