Whether you’ve been writing for a day or a decade, you’ve probably run across this popular advice: write about what you know. We’re told to dig deep and share our experiences, our struggles, our lives.
Personally, I’ve found this to be true, especially here on Medium. Stories where I share intimate encounters and painful situations are very often the ones that receive the most engagement.
They’re the stories others can relate to and empathize with. They resonate with my readers and often touch something inside of them, as they correlate my experiences and emotions with a time in their own lives where they felt something similar.
Of course, not every experience is, or should be, up for public consumption.
I’ve struggled with this myself, and have come up with a couple of parameters to gauge whether or not I’m ready to write about a particular personal experience.
Every person, and every experience is, of course, different. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to writing (or much else in life).
Loose ground rules, however, can be helpful as I determine whether I should write about a personal situation in my life.
Have I done my work?
If I haven’t done my own work regarding an experience, I won’t write about it.
This means if it’s still a deeply sensitive issue where I feel particularly fragile, or I haven’t worked through my emotions surrounding a situation, I’m not ready to write about it.
This doesn’t mean an issue has to be completely resolved, or my feelings need to be neutral around it, it simply means I don’t put out for public consumption anything where I’m deeply entrenched in the healing stage of the process.
For me, when I post and share my experiences, the hurts shouldn’t be fresh wounds. I would’ve talked to a friend or a therapist (usually multiple times), processed the event to the best of my ability, and worked through the issue as much as possible before writing about it.