Writing Clinic #6: Denise Hisey’s Post
Welcome back to Writing Clinic! This is the last review I’ll be doing: next week I’ll sum up some of the key points that have come up during the clinic.
Many thanks to all those who submitted posts, and sorry if you submitted one that I didn’t get a chance to review.
Today’s post is by Denise Hisey. She sent me an unpublished draft, and it’s not too long, so I’m going to share the whole thing with you here.
Her blog is inspired2ignite, with the tagline “Moving From Surviving to Thriving”.
Anger with a D is Danger. That’s the kind of anger I had.
Anger used to be my best friend. We were joined at the hip, ready for the long haul. It didn’t take much to justify unleashing my righteous fury on all the irritating people of the world. And those irritating people were everywhere!
Anger suited me well –I felt strong and powerful when I was angry. People kept their distance and I was safe. I got kudos growing up for being angry; as long as it wasn’t with anyone in our house! I’d come home with stories of mouthing off at teachers and be commended for it. Dad would laugh and give me the rare praise I craved.
It wasn’t until I finally heard myself yelling at my kids that I was finally willing to admit anger might not be such a good friend after all. I began to learn the true source of my anger and it gradually became more manageable and less destructive. I began to express anger more appropriately instead of overreacting.
The initial downside was this allowed emotions I was unfamiliar with to surface. I was accustomed to masking my fear, loneliness and sadness with anger. I didn’t know how to handle these new emotions and often struggled with them.
It was so much easier for me to be angry and blow up than be vulnerable. Being “right” and “in control” took less energy and time in the short-haul; but it was also destroying my relationships.
The rush from being excessively angry was similar to the spike of a sugar high; it didn’t last and it was harmful. The crash from those power trips left me weighted with guilt and shame. It’s obvious to me now my angry self came across as arrogant and egotistical, when I was actually full of fear and insecurity.
Anger has a healthy purpose, and I’ve learned it’s not something to fear anymore. Just like other emotions, it can be expressed in extremes or it can be expressed constructively. I feel so much freer now that anger doesn’t rule me. It’s not a matter of simply controlling it, but having processed it. The source and intensity of the unhealthy version has been removed. My family and I no longer have to wonder when my next outburst will be.
How about you? Do you have a story about struggling with anger or being the recipient of it?
Here’s what I thought:
What’s Working Well
#1: The Narrative Structure
This posts tells a story, starting at the beginning (“anger used to be my best friend”), moving to a turning point (“I was finally willing to admit anger might not be such a good friend after all”) and ending with a new, happier situation (“I feel so much freer now anger doesn’t rule me).
Stories are naturally engaging, and Denise’s post is easy to follow. It helps that it’s fairly short, as a really long story about someone’s life can be offputting to new readers.
#2: The Honesty
Denise tells her story bravely and honestly here. I imagine it might have been difficult to write, especially when she shares details about her home life, where stories of “mouthing off at teachers” won her “the rare praise I coveted”.
This honesty could be really valuable to readers who are also struggling with anger, or perhaps with feelings of guilt about times they got angry in the past. It shows them that Denise isn’t perfect, and that she’s had a journey to travel in order to risk being vulnerable instead of angry.
#3: The Invitation to Comment
Denise’s post is all about her story, but she opens it up at the end by asking readings “How about you?” and inviting them to share their story of struggling with anger, whether on the giving or receiving end.
It’s always a good idea to open things up to the reader, but this is especially important if your post has been quite “I” centric.
Overall, this is a strong post: a powerful, well-written story that’s likely to help readers connect to who Denise is, her background and her journey through life.
What Denise Might Change
#1: The Title (or First Line?)
I’m not quite sure if Denise intends the first line in the document to be the title or just the start of the post, but either way, it’s not quite working at the moment.
She begins with:
Anger with a D is Danger. That’s the kind of anger I had.
I understand what Denise is saying: by adding a “D” to the start of “anger”, you get “danger” — but I felt like the word “danger” should probably reoccur in the post. (Or that the letter “D” should somehow be significant.) Otherwise, it seems like a slightly disconnected opening.
#2: More References to the Reader
This isn’t necessarily something Denise should do, just something she might want to consider. Until the last paragraph (the invitation to comment), the post is very much focused on Denise’s story. That’s perfectly fine — it’s Denise’s blog, after all! — but assuming she wants to build a readership, she might find it’s helpful to open out posts a little more to the reader.
One way to do that here would be to start with a question, e.g.:
Have you ever struggled with anger?
Anger used to be my best friend… (etc)
She could also use phrases like “As you might imagine” during the post itself.
#3: Be Careful with the Use of Blue Text
This is a really picky point … but sometimes, the tiny details are the ones that can really shape a reader’s experience of your blog.
In this draft, and on her blog, Denise sometimes uses blue for emphasis. This can be a little confusing for readers, as blue is the default colour for links online. Nowadays, links aren’t always underlined, so readers may try to click on blue text thinking it’s a link. (I noticed in one of her other posts, she has some blue underlined subheadings, which is even more likely to confuse readers.)
For me, this was a powerful and moving post, with only a few very small things to pick on. I hope you found it a good read too. You can leave a comment below for Denise if you have any suggestions or feedback.
1 Response to “Writing Clinic #6: Denise Hisey’s Post”
Thanks for the great feedback! It is very helpful and I’ll carry your thoughts with me as I continue blogging.
The blue highlight issue really never occurred to me, so thank you for pointing that out.
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