Writing Close To The Bone – The Art & Practice of Coming Undone

I am sitting at my desk as I write this. From my window everything looks a bit bleak, bare, and grey. Even the sky looks chilly, pulling the clouds in close like a warm blanket. A few geese have just flown by, honking on their way to hopefully, somewhere warmer. Such is the way of a cold, January morning and what better a time to get to work and help you learn about writing close to the bone.

writing close to the bone
Winter Energy Can Help Us Write

Winter’s energy is tranquil. It helps us to ‘chill out’ and slow down from our more active summer and fall months. With the lessened daylight hours, we become more withdrawn and the feeling of hibernating can become real strong. It’s also a great time to move any stagnant energy, to go on a cleanse, to start a new writing project, or learn something new – like writing raw and real!

What Exactly Is Writing Close To The Bone?

I like this term because it describes so well what it means to get to the truth of a matter. It should come out raw, real, and honest, and should have the power to move the heart of your readers. It’s most often those words we feel but are afraid to say and yet we don’t want to offer up our ‘vomiting onto the page’ to the public. With some editing, we can turn that brutal rawness into grace, eloquence, and something that has the capacity to touch and transform others.

Just this morning I wrote to a close friend in response to something deeply vulnerable they had shared about a part of their life. I’ll use this as the first example:

“Sometimes in life we cross paths with people who touch our hearts so deeply. Not so much because of their stories, (we all have those) but because of the way they’ve triumphed over adversity and pulled themselves from the ashes of ruin. Being human pretty much guarantees we’ll be scarred in some way, but I believe that abandonment, especially as a child, is the toughest wound to heal because it has taught us to abandon ourselves. It is the marking of some of the greatest Warriors and one of the roughest paths to walk in this world. Some make it, and some don’t, but those who do have learned to never abandon themselves again. We may cross the finish line bruised, beaten, and battered from all the mistakes we’ve made in an effort to ‘belong’ somewhere…anywhere, but the gold we’ve mined through it all is in finding that ‘belonging’ in our ‘true self’ – intact, whole, and ready for anything.”

Another Example for You

“When my daughter was born I became the wicked witch of the west. My utter disbelief and non-acceptance that the independent life I had cherished was now gone for good, literally rocked my world until I split open and let all the poison ooze out.  I don’t know how I made it through those first two years of her life. She cried and cried and cried. She barely slept and neither did I. To write about it now reminds me of the dark hell of those days.  I was diagnosed with postpartum stress, post traumatic stress disorder (from the challenging labor), extreme hormone deficiency, depression, and borderline anorexia.  I went from 145 lbs at full term to 110 lbs by the time my daughter was 6 months old. And while it may be true that I was experiencing all of the above disorders, in hindsight, I now can see it was my own refusal to accept my life as it was happening in the NOW.”

The above is an excerpt from a published article called, Kids, that I had written for a magazine, and hopefully, you are beginning to see that the flavor of this kind of writing is not vanilla.

Being Intimate With Yourself Is Key

Writing real and authentically is having the courage to bare your soul, to rip your guts open and let whatever’s in there spill out. It’s about messy feelings, broken hearts, ecstatic bliss, sweet love, and poignant reflection but mostly it’s about being intimate with the deepest part of your being.

This is often a real uncomfortable place for many people, but if you want to be a writer, and a good one, and specifically, one who focuses on spiritual writing – then we must learn to brave those dark waters and dive deeply into our comfortably hidden fears.

fear and creativity

It Takes Courage To Find Your Authentic Voice

“To live a life of authentic self-expression, fully utilizing my gifts as a writer and creative being was totally opposite to what I’d been taught by my family and so living a life of repressed creativity, and believing I could never earn a living or be fully supported and loved as an artist, became the underlying vibration of my whole existence.  To be ‘me’ would equal giving up my role as the emotional caretaker of my mother.  This would mean a complete loss of identity – something I thought I could never survive.” excerpt from my journal 2008 – (another example of writing close to the bone.)

When we give ourselves permission to dream the life that our Spirit wants for us, we somehow garner the courage to follow the vein of gold that will take us there.  Mostly though, the mother lode at the end of that vein of gold is the dark mud and accumulated crud of all we’ve conveniently shoved away. It is also the home of the genius, creative, authentic voice of the soul, the voice that will become the master of writing close to the bone.

Getting Down and Dirty – The How To

Our inner wealth and sense of abundance lies in our ability to live and express authentically in our lives.  Our truest treasure chest of all that is good comes from our capacity to move forward in life and to expand into all that we are meant to be. This requires an enormous amount of solitude, inner reflection, and chunks of time to just be alone doing nothing or also chunks of time alone in nature.

I’m sure you’re wondering how that is even possible if you are working 9 to 5 and have a family or other responsibilities!

What I can share with you from my own experience, is that if this is the road you are meant to follow, coupled with your deep desire for this to happen, then life will rearrange a few things for you although you might not like the rearrangement very much at first.

First We Must Learn To Live Close To The Bone

There is a ton of truth to the fact that you cannot write what you do not know, and so sometimes life will line things up in such a way as to give you the experience you need.

If you want to be a spiritual writer and learn how to write with deep honesty, then you have to be prepared to live close to the bone first. This may come as a lost job, a forced retirement, an illness, a financial hardship, a relationship change, or the loss of a loved one. It’s really anything that forces you to take a look at your life and at the same time, gives you a chunk of space to reflect and redirect your path.

To Be Continued…

“In the deepest part of my soul, I know that any amount of money, fame, or best-selling books won’t matter one iota at the end of my life.  What will matter most is my relationship with Spirit, the people I loved, and how I used this precious life to help others know who they truly are.” – HF  (example of writing close to the bone)

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share with you more about writing close to the bone, some steps to take to get you started, how to turn your raw journal writing into something publishable and more.


With love,

Heather xo


  1. Andre

    Thank you for this post Heather.

    A truly deep and meaningful post. Loved reading this.

    Yes, writing close to the bone many times comes as a result of some hardships. But when you go deeper within yourself and understand the reasoning behind it, you become a better person as a result.

    More importantly, you learn to move forward as a spiritual soul heading towards that pathway back towards the union of the light of which we are.

    Looking forward to your next post which I am sure will be just as vital and this.

    Thank you for writing from inspiration and in your own words “Close to the Bone”


  2. Heather

    I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Andre and many thanks for your insightful comments.

    I, too, am looking forward to the next post. Writing it will be a joy and I hope you will find it to be just as inspiring.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Warmly, Heather

  3. Steve

    Hello Heather,

    I absolutely love this post! Thank you so much. I have never heard the term ‘writing close to the bone’, although I feel I do this quite often on my The Soul Fan site.

    I really enjoyed reading this and I am more than certain I will come back when I have time to look around a bit more. Keep up the good work here. Amazing post.


    • Heather

      Thank you, Stephen.

      I am so glad you enjoyed this post.

      ‘Writing close to the bone’ is a great term used for getting raw and real when we are writing. It’s a way to deeply connect with our readers, often moving them in a way that can bring about transformation on some level.

      I look forward to visiting your site which sounds intriguing.

      Warmly, Heather

  4. Kevin

    Hi Heather,

    You are quite right. Writing should be honest, real, and should provide power to the reader. It’s not an easy job. I know many people, especially my sister, who have a hard time with words and writing.

    But again, I think the key point is to wonder how your reader will feel when they read your book/article/post or whatever. If we can get the hang of this, then things are pretty good.


    • Heather

      Thank you for your comment, Kevin.

      Yes, indeed, keeping the reader in mind and wanting them to be moved deeply by our words helps us to stay real and authentic when writing.

      It takes a lot of getting real and authentic with ourselves first though!

      So glad you dropped by.

      Warmly, Heather

  5. Yvonne

    Hi Heather,

    It’s true that one cannot write well when we do not know much about the subject matter. Readers will be able to relate to us better when we have gone through the experience ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing this article. It has inspired me to write ‘closer to the bone’ for my own blog. Looking forward to your next article!


    • Heather

      Hi Yvonne,

      What you have stated is so true – ‘that readers will be able to relate to us better when we have gone through the experience ourselves.’

      Somehow our genuineness can be felt by the reader and this is what I call ‘gold.’

      When we can connect with our readers at a feeling level, then we have helped them, and that’s what it’s all about!

      So happy to hear that this post has inspired your own writing.

      Warmly, Heather

  6. Julie

    I agree with your advice in this post. I have written all my life – fiction and non-fiction. What you discuss as writing” close to the bone” I’ve always called writing from the gut. I love to write freely – and go back to edit days later. Often my first drafts are unstructured, un-punctuated, contain sections of stream-of-consciousness and full of typos! But, if I may say so, they nearly always contain a pearl or a few pearls that I can develop into something really good.

    • Heather

      Hi Julie,

      You definitely have the ‘groove’ going on when it comes to writing close to the bone!

      We throw it all onto the page unedited and pure, then turn it into a piece of gold that will help others.

      Kudos to you!

      Warmly, Heather

  7. David Nakov

    Lots of appreciation to you.
    Accept it graciously.
    Thank you for your inspirational writing/being, Heather.
    Blessings and Love,

    • Heather

      Thank you kindly, David.
      Accepted graciously…
      Warmly, Heather

  8. thadpoore

    Finally, a blog that is as entertaining as a book!

    You are very deep in your writing and coming from a fellow writer myself, what you are saying really makes sense to me.

    I often find myself writing into a rut and have to take a break for at least a few days.

    I enjoy your writing and will continue to come back for more!

    Thank you:)

    Thad P.

    • Heather

      Hi Thad,

      Many thanks for your comment, and I’m happy to know you found it entertaining.

      When we get into a writer’s rut, it’s always best to take a break and put our attention on other things for a bit, so well done for knowing exactly what to do!

      Glad you enjoyed, and yes, please do stop by again.

      Warmly, Heather

  9. Stacie

    Heather, I really enjoyed your post Writing Close to the Bone.

    I love to write, but I am no where close to your expertise. You let out your deepest thoughts and information to the wold, but said it in such a fashion that it captivates a reader.

    I really enjoyed it.

    • Heather

      I’m so glad to know that you enjoyed reading this.

      I truly love to write about my deepest thoughts, as I feel that is what really good writing is all about.

      It takes a bit of living and learning from our mistakes and our joys before we have enough courage to bare our soul.

      This is what ‘writing close to the bone’ is – the ability to bare our soul through the written word.

      Many blessings,

  10. Ian

    Hi Heather,

    This is a great article! I really enjoyed reading it, and writing close to the bone is a good description of how I write when I’m writing about some of the horrific experiences that I’ve had to endure in my life. I am an abuse survivor and I’m starting to write down my story but sometimes that is hard to do without unintentionally triggering someone who might have gone through the same thing.

    • Heather

      Hi Ian,

      First, let me just say how courageous it is of you to be at a place where you are able to write about your experiences of abuse. Writing is such a healing form of good medicine.

      It’s necessary to write raw and real at first about our honest painful grief and overwhelming feelings. We are purging and it’s so cathartic. With this first stage of expression, I’d recommend writing it just for you…for your eyes only, and not sharing it for the very reasons you mentioned. Once you feel ready and have given yourself some time to let all that deep expression settle, then it would definitely be possible to take that first draft of raw pain and emotion and form it into a wonderful teaching article or e-book for others, coming from the voice of someone who has purged and come out the other side and is able to write about these experiences from a place of authority and supportive guidance, rather than victim and powerlessness.

      Many blessings for you, Ian.

      Warmly, Heather 🙂


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