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How To Share Your Personal Experiences Through Your Writing
By Bethany Cadman on November 16, 2016
People write for many different reasons, and some choose to share deeply personal and affecting experiences that they have had in their own lives. This may be to highlight particular issues and problems to others, it may be that they feel the world would benefit from knowing about their story, it may be as a form of personal therapy – to let it all out by writing it down, or simply because what has happened would make an interesting book!
Whatever the motivation for sharing personal experiences through your writing, doing so can be something of a minefield. There are many different factors to consider.
If the experience is painful or traumatising how will revisiting it affect you? Many writers share painful personal experiences through their work. For some the experience is a release, or an opportunity to let go of the past, for others, it can be tough to revisit these troubling times. Before you write, it is always important to try to acknowledge your true feelings about the matter, and ensure you have the right support network in place around you before you begin.
Other personal writing can simply be funny or embarrassing stories that you want to share with the world. However, this kind of writing, once shared can leave authors feeling terribly exposed. It might simply be that they cringe that now the whole world (including friends and relatives) know intimate details of their lives, or perhaps they have spilt family secrets, written about their job and now their boss has found out – and so on. Before you start, you should also think about how doing so could affect your life. Consider writing anonymously to protect yourself if what you are sharing could lead to all sorts of trouble!
What about those around you? When sharing personal experiences through your writing, you may wish to consider how this could affect your nearest and dearest. Will your relationships suffer? Does this matter to you? Consider asking friends and relatives how they feel about you exploring these feelings and past experiences before you start.
Make sure you have something to say. Writing about your personal experience can feel cathartic for a variety of reasons, but if you are hoping to elicit a positive response from your discerning readers you need to ensure that you really have something to say. What you write has to have value, be it entertainment, knowledge, self-validation, or anything else. At the end of the day, readers need to be able to relate to what you are saying.
In the heat of the moment we can easily say things we regret, so make sure that if you are writing about an emotional experience, that you are doing so for the right reasons. Waiting a while can also help you to reflect, to gain a better understanding of your experiences and therefore to write about them with more insight and depth. Writing about your personal mistakes, for example, can be useful/ amusing/ entertaining to the reader, but also writing about how to avoid them is even better!
Do you use personal experiences to fuel your writing? Personal experiences are very powerful, and can make for vivid and compelling stories! However, just because you have been through something doesn’t mean you should immediately rush to put pen to paper. Gaining perspective and letting the dust settle can make writing and sharing your personal experiences all the more meaningful.