Jul 012013

locked private writingPersonal Writings in your “Treasure Chest”

Preserving memories and sharing memories often go hand-in-hand. However, not every part of a “Treasure Chest” needs to be shared with loved ones, or anyone at all. There’s room—and some very good reasons—to include personal writing that you keep to yourself.

You don’t have to feel compelled to share your memories to want to preserve them. Writing for yourself and only for yourself can be cathartic and healing.

Personal writing to work through the past

There’s a reason diaries come with locks. If you’re writing to work through past events, go ahead, indulge yourself, and write as if no one is watching. There’s nothing selfish about this. Working through painful past events with future readers in mind can handicap you. To process and make sense of your past, write without filters. After you’re done, you can decide if you want to share or create a sanitized version (or one edited for style) to share.

Personal events too painful to shareprivate writing is PRIVATE

We all have different comfort levels with baring our souls. If sharing your personal writing or having people know about your personal tragedies, keep it private. There’s nothing selfish about this. Write to process, remember, heal, lament, or rant. Put your emotions into words. No one has to know.

Writing for someone who has passed

Grief counselors often advise writing a letter to a person who has died. Write just for this person. Say all the things that you wish you’d said and include the things you couldn’t say enough. You can keep it, burn it (think of your words in smoke rising to the heavens), or bury it with your loved one. It’s your grief and you get to decide when sharing is helpful and/or appropriate.  (See Navigatinggrief.com for other ideas of writing to share or not.)
do no harm with private writing

Do no harm

Sometimes it’s not a question of if you want to share, but more a question of is it ok to share. If your writing will hurt someone else, or if sharing has the potential of damaging relationships, think carefully before sharing. You can also think whether your sharing jeopardizes someone or something else, such as a prosecution or someone else’s relationship. This doesn’t mean you can write to process your part of the event; a “treasure chest” can keep secrets as well as treasures.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  5 Responses to “Personal Writing: When NOT to Share”

  1. Thank you so much Laura for sharing my Navigating Grief website. We share the love for preserving legacy and memories in important and healing ways. I so agree that there is a separation between the private writing and the public sharing of story. Often in grief or any personal writing, digging into the pain is what brings out the valuable memories and lessons of life and love. Leaving the pain behind (in private) is always the gift. Write on! ~Joan, founder and coach, Navigating Grief.

    • Thanks Joan. I’m always happy to hear from you. Let me know anytime you’re interested in guest posting!

  2. Thanks for the post Laura. I’m taking a creative non-fiction class and this is something we’ve debated. My litmus test is that I need to be able to step away from it enough to properly edit and polish it (and ensure the no harm rule) and turn it into written art, not journalling (which is cathartic and for me only – smile). I’ll be sharing your post with my classmates 🙂

  3. […] However, there are also times that, if handled carefully, such stories can bring socio-historical context and understanding to family dynamics and individual personalities. Read on for several ideas for telling these sensitive stories. (See also When NOT to Share.) […]

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