Today is the third anniversary of The Invisible Scar. And in light of this frabjous day (callooh, callay!), I thought I’d share a little behind-the-scenes content:
- What I’ve learned in writing and running The Invisible Scar for three years
- The creative process for The Invisible Scar articles
- Favorite songs on my playlist while I write that you might like, too
Because despite this site not being a personal blog, I want you to know that a real person is here writing all these articles, and I care about you very much and keep you all in my nightly prayers.
Eight Things I’ve Learned From Writing About a Very Tough Subject
1. Know your mission
Before launching The Invisible Scar three years ago, I spent much time considering why I would start such a website. I felt an inclination to start one, but I didn’t want to start just writing without a defined purpose for it.
I knew a few things I didn’t want The Invisible Scar to be. For example, I didn’t want this site to have the same deeply personal, intensely detailed focus as the myriad blogs from ACoNs and adult survivors of abuse. Those definitely have a helpful, emotional purpose, but I didn’t feel called to create that sort of website.
After talking to my therapist about my ideas for The Invisible Scar, he encouraged me to share all the thoughts and knowledge in the spirit of a friend, someone who understands and who has learned so much. My therapist planted the seeds to get me thinking in the terms of writing a site that covers a tough subject but writes about it with hope for healing, a light in the darkness.
2. Experiment with word counts then stick with what works
In the beginning, sometimes I’d dash off a quick article on a subject that sprung to mind. However, at some point, I decided to stop doing those quick, brief articles because The Invisible Scar readers prefer long-form content. (Articles here hover between 2,500-3,000 words. One of the most popular pieces is 8K words long!)
Moreover, readers are making the time to come here and spend time reading thoughtful, researched articles. They want a satisfying meal, not an appetizer.
So, unless a compelling reason to present a short article exists, I’ll leave those to other blogs and sites.
I respect and value the time you’ve made to come to The Invisible Scar, so I’ll serve up some hearty helpings of food for thought and, I pray, encouragement as well.
3. Always give your readers a sense of hope, of healing, of encouragement
Writing about emotional child abuse is heavy stuff.
Reading about it is, too.
But since we’re here together to explore, discuss, and guide each other through the understanding of this subject, let’s always stay on the road toward healing.
Too many psychology websites or personal blogs focus strictly on the effects of the abuse (which is important, of course) but fail to let the readers know that, yes, they can heal. Yes, they can have good lives. Yes, adult survivors of emotional child abuse can move toward healing and find themselves stronger emotionally, healthier mentally, than they ever have. They just need to keep moving forward, keep attending therapy, keep praying, keep on the path.
4. Stay focused
As an adult with ADHD, I get distracted very easily and must continuously bring my thoughts back to tasks, activities, conversations, etc. Fortunately, the Evernote app, sticky notes, a color-coded calendar, and Sharpie-scrawled reminders on the palm of my hand keep me organized and production.
In a way, all that helps me keep this website focused on its mission as well.
Sometimes, especially when a tough subject encompasses so many different aspects of a life, I feel the urge to cover other topics that seem enfolded within the world of emotional child abuse. However, I keep reminding myself that the reader here is the adult survivor of emotional child abuse. At the heart of it all, that person is who I write for.
Remembering who I write for helps me avoid the various rabbit holes that I could jump down and follow and lose my sense of focus for this website.
5. Listen to what your readers are talking about
In January, I took some time from writing here to plan different topics to cover in 2016… However, sometimes what is on my mind may not necessarily be top of mind for readers.
For example, lately, many readers have expressed (via comments here, The Invisible Scar Facebook Page, and emails) concerns about the role of grandparents. What can be done when abusive parents become grandparents? What’s an adult survivor of emotional child abuse to do when he/she is asked about grandparents for their children?
Those questions were not something I considered exploring here at The Invisible Scar. However, I’ve been paying attention to what you are discussing, and I’m now scrapping my original idea for an article and gathering research and making drafts of an article focusing on grandparents. Because you care about it. Because you need to talk about it with your fellow adult survivors of emotional child abuse.
6. Always be learning
The worst teachers in high school and college taught from their memories of textbooks studied long ago; they came from a stagnant place of understanding. The ones who inspired, who made me want to analyze the material, to immerse myself in it, were teachers who constantly learned. They pushed themselves to go deeper into their education and to stretch mentally to acquire new information and understanding.
In writing The Invisible Scar, I hope to maintain that spirit of learning. Books, articles, and studies keep me fueled with inspiration and information. (And if you have any recommendations, do leave it in the comments!)
7. Know you sometimes just hit a wall and need a break
As I mentioned before, writing about emotional child abuse is a heavy, hard subject.
Sometimes, I feel drained (and may even cry) as I plan, research, and write articles because emotional child abuse is so wrong, so sad, so misunderstood by society. And then, I wonder why I’ve chosen to write about such a subject rather to write about clean eating, classic movies, history, and the hundreds of other interests I have.
And because The Invisible Scar is a one-woman project, when I hit that emotional wall, everything grows quieter here.
However, I don’t despair about my work here. I’m not scared that I won’t write again nor worried that I’ve failed in running The Invisible Scar. Since I’ve been a writer for so very long, I know that silence and thinking are an enormous part of the creative process.
Even though I’m physically not writing anything down, my mind’s back burners are quietly cooking up new articles and ideas. Meanwhile, I spend more time at the beach, for it’s my therapeutic center. My four kids and I go for long nature walks. I immerse myself in good, healthy activities.
Eventually, a glimmer of light appears once more. The back burners start bubbling, and I test what’s there, and I find it nourishing and good. So, I sit at my laptop once more and begin to write.
8. Haters gonna hate
Vicious and horrific things on blogs have been said about me and the purpose of this site. Emails full of venom regarding my focus on adult survivors have invaded my inbox (abusive parents really, really don’t like what I write).
People have told me to fuck off, to shrivel up and die, to stop writing.
However, I keep on writing from a place of truth and hope. For all the hate-filled emails, I receive far more telling me that readers feel understood, feel hope, feel like they want to start working toward their own healing and stop wishing to disappear. So, that’s why I keep writing.
In writing this blog and running it, I’ve had to deepen my prayer life, add more peace and quiet to my life, and to focus on what matters. And all the hate and venom and poison sent to me are not what matter.
My following Scripture quote serves me in time of difficulties:
My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
and do not be impetuous in time of adversity.
Cling to him, do not leave him,
that you may prosper in your last days…
Trust in God, and He will help you;
make your ways straight and hope in him.
Now, for the second part of The Invisible Scar’s anniversary festivities, let’s take a look at…
The Invisible Scar’s Creative Process
As a professional writer and editor, I tend to overanalyze, well, everything. When at the grocery store, that quirk is not helpful. (Artichokes or asparagus? Should I get one? Should I get both? What about broccoli? Is that too much green for one meal?)
When writing and maintaining a website, though, that quirk does come in handy. Everything is possible fodder for an article. Emails, books, movies, conversations with friends, news articles… everything.
However, one has to sift through all the possibilities and weigh each one, keeping in mind what ideas will make for meaty, helpful articles.
For fun, I thought I’d share a quick look at how the creative process for The Invisible Scar articles:
To wrap things up here on this fine anniversary, I’d love to share what’s been filling up my headphones lately.
The Invisible Scar’s Current Playlist
The Invisible Scar is fueled by the dynamic duo of prayer and music. It’s impossible for me to write without music pouring through my headphones.
Rather than load up the end of this article with my beloved selections by Joshua Bell, The Avett Brothers, Radiohead, The Innocence Mission, Yo-Yo Ma, The Head and the Heart (and so on), I’ll share three songs of hope for the journey…
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Thanks, dear readers, for being such a lively caring group. You’re all so generous and thoughtful in your comments and in how you reach out to one another. May you continue on your healing journey!
Peace to you all.
Veronica Jarski is founder and managing editor of The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors. She has extensive editorial experience and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her work has been featured on myriad publications, such as Kapost, MarketingProfs, and Ragan.