Writing Assignment: Write About Your Pain

by Randy Murray on July 25, 2014

As a man over fifty years old I know a thing or two about physical pain. Pain is not exclusive to those of us with a few miles on the odometer, but as one ages, the dings and dents do tend to add up. I’m someone in relatively good health, but broken bones, worn joints, surprising little tears in cartilage and other tissues can provide an interesting education in physical sensation.

Physical pain has another interesting feature: when it is gone (thank heavens) and I think back on it I can remember feeling the pain, experiencing it, but the pain itself is a thing of the past. For example, I remember the first time I had a kidney stone. That is a revelation in pain. And yet, when I remember it, I recall it coolly. I remember how awful it felt, the shock, the extreme, doubled over, unrelenting pain, thinking I was dying and not knowing why. I remember feeling the pain, but, thank the gods, I don’t experience that pain again through memory.

I can’t speak for your experience of physical pain. I only know what I’ve experienced. And I know that writing about it can be helpful. I can easily write about the physical pain I feel in the moment and while I’m feeling it, but writing about the memory of pain requires greater recall and concentration.

For today’s assignment think of a personal experience where you experienced physical pain, and then write about it. Describe the experience and try and provide a detailed description of what you felt. And then, with that memory freshly detailed, write also about recalling the sensation of pain and see if you can actually recall what that pain felt like when you are not currently experiencing that pain.

It’s not necessary to delve into clinical or gory details. The object is to write about your experience of pain, not of the injury. What did you feel? And what do you feel now?

This assignment deceptively difficult to successfully write. I recommend completing the assignment and then reviewing your work the following day. Did you accurately recall and describe the experience of physical pain? Can you do better? And if you can do better, start again and rewrite your work.

And here’s a tip: you can almost always do better with a rewrite.

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