What to Write When Your Heart is Broken

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re not so into today since you’re nursing a broken heart, there’s no better pep talker than Lynn Weingarten. Lynn is the author of The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, about jilted high school sophomore Lucy who’s offered a chance at a repaired heart by three beautiful girls who can snag–and dump–any guy who catches their fancy. Feeling a bit heartbroken yourself? Read Lynn’s advice below for what to do while you get your groove back.

Having a broken heart always completely sucks, but around Valentine’s Day it’s even worse. Nothing like being bombarded with a constant stream of  I WUV YOU teddy bears, “romantic” gift guides, and red and pink everything everywhere to make newly unhappily singled (or really anyone whose heart is less than fully intact) want to hop under the covers with a Russell Stover sampler box and stay there until spring. But when the cartoon cupids chase you into hiding, bring a pad and paper with you. Why? Because one of the best ways to fix a broken heart is to write your way through it.

Here are some suggestions. Have others? Please leave them in the comment box below.

1. Write the story of your relationship

Write it in a straight line starting from the moment you met, or write it backwards starting from the moment it ended, write it as a series of short moments that jump around in time, write it as a news article, or a recipe, a playlist with liner notes, a screenplay, a history lesson, write a eulogy to be read at your relationship’s funeral.  Or all of these ways, or none of them and pick another way to do it instead. Include all the details that keep looping through your brain demanding not to be forgotten, the parts that hurt because you’ll miss them so much, and the parts that hurt because they ever happened at all. What matters is not that you end up with something shiny and pretty but that you get it out. It is exhausting lugging all of this around. Put it down on paper and you won’t have to.

2. Write character sketch of yourself, told from the perspective of someone who adores you (not a specific person, just the idea of a person in general)

One crappy by-product of a broken-heart is the screwed-up self-esteem that often comes with it. When your heart is broken you start seeing the world, and most importantly yourself, through broken-heart colored glasses. This might help fix that. Sure, it will feel weird at first. Self-indulgent or embarrassing. But that doesn’t matter, no one has to see it. This is just for you.

3. Write a very, very bad poem

How many heartbreak clichés can you come up? How many corny sappy phrases can you write? How many words can you think of to rhyme with sad? Or tear? Or lonely? Think them all up and write them all out. This is like turning on the faucet and letting the brown water out, letting it run until it’s clear. So keep going until you have the worst possible poem imaginable. Great. Now rip it up and put the pieces in a pile and make the pile into a tiny bonfire and use the bonfire to make yourself a toasted marshmallow and make this marshmallow into a s’more. Now while you’re eating that s’more, write another poem using none of what you used before. This time, feel free to make it good.

4. Write your ex a letter

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but the reason it’s so often suggested is because it really can help. Few people end a relationship feeling like they’ve said everything they needed to and sometimes having all that unsaid stuff swirling around in your brain can keep you stuck.  Writing it can unstick you, whether you send the letter or not.

5. Write a letter to yourself from yourself in the future

Imagine that it’s a month, or six months or a year from now and you can think about your ex without feeling like someone is trying to remove your heart with a rusty grapefruit spoon. Hooray! What advice would Future You give you now about your current situation? Maybe F.Y. would tell you to find a puppy to play with, to dance in your room, to stop the Facebook stalkery, to eat something other than mini ice-cream sandwiches. Maybe F.Y. would just like to promise you that this feeling won’t last forever, or tell you that at some point in the future you are going to meet someone else more wonderful than you possibly could have ever made up in your head. It doesn’t matter that you don’t actually know what the future will bring. When the future comes, that’s when you’ll know. But you’re a writer, so for now you can imagine.

6. Write your own version of this list

2 thoughts on “What to Write When Your Heart is Broken

  1. …I swear, if I have to read any bad poems inspired by a broken heart and this list… I will find whoever is responsible for shattering that person’s heart and stick a dagger up their butt.

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