Happy November 10th from Jeanette. I’ve been brainstorming a writing idea that, on the surface, seems like a good one. I wouldn’t call it a fun project, but it will allow me to reach out to an audience that I never imagined I’d be part of myself. I have plenty of material to draw from already and always get positive responses when I run it past fellow writers. So what is holding me back? The truth? I know I’m not ready to be as honest as I’ll need to be in order to write affectively.
Whether we write fiction, non-fiction, or both, we all face decision points when we must examine whether or not to work a deeply personal or painful experience into our writing. As one who has written openly about depression, battling an eating disorder, and self-injury, I understand the benefits and drawbacks to exposing the not-so-pretty side of life to readers. I know the power of waiting until enough time has passed to allow healing and perspective. Once I’ve allow that time, or even while I’m waiting, I’ve learned to ask myself some questions before getting too personal in an article, devotional, blog post, or book. Perhaps you’ll find these questions helpful too.
Why do I want to write about this? Is the goal attention, revenge, a desire to be “understood,” one more writing credit, or an honest desire to minister to others?
Is it appropriate? Face it; there are some things that are best kept private, at least for awhile. Other experiences are suitable for one audience but not others.
Am I ready to make this public? I’m not just talking about strangers finding out my business, but am I ready to expose this secret to relatives and friends? What about my kids?
What are the possible ramifications? Will I hurt anyone in the process? Could getting too personal damage my reputation or career? Will revisiting this issue trigger old temptations?
Do I really sense God prompting me to write on this topic? Many times I’ve had to admit that the prompt was coming from selfish desires.
Are you tossing around an idea that will require you to expose something personal? Take some time to answer the questions above. I’ll be doing the same thing.