Should you write about everything?

There is a time to write and there is a time to stay silent. To not write. And there are times when writing does not come.

No, I am not talking about writer’s block. I am talking about events in a person’s life that leave a deep impact. Pain that lies too deep for tears and emotion that lies too deep for words.

Know what I am talking about?

Certainly there are blogs out there that chronicle pain and love and other emotions as they come everyday. The blog is a form especially suited for such an outlet.

But at the same time, good writing is “emotion recollected in tranquility” for many of us. Noting experience down in the heat of the moment often distorts the shape of what lies deep in our hearts on the mirror of our page,  desecrates what seems to be pure, exposes to interpretation and reception and distorts what must not be interfered with.

The moment one tries to chronicle experience, what emerges seems to be removed from the experience one had. When it reaches the reader, the reader puts himself into that experience. His/her perspective colours everything. Good for the reader but is it as good for the writer too?

Besides, our own perspective as writers colours everything too.When we put out experience into writing, can we be totally honest? Do we want to be? Are we ever totally honest with ourselves?

If we are certain that people we know will be reading, we might tweak experiences consciously, removing, glossing over, telling stories about our experiences for these people we know.

We might feel more free if we are completely anonymous writers. But  between the experience and the writing of it falls the shadow. What is chronicled is never as immediate as what passed. It’s always hard to look at the typed screen which presents a narrative always distant from the one that memory knows.

Yet, is not writing  the solution? Is waiting for those emotions to settle into tranquillity before picking up the laptop the right strategy? Should some things be forgotten? Should some things not be chronicled too soon?

Conflicting thoughts are lost with time and a large narrative of what we want to remember remains that fits in nicely with our perspective of ourselves and our sense of morality, identity and whatever else defines us. Some of us are more self-centred than others but all of us remember the past from our own point of view. But it takes time for our self-centred selves to edit the past according to what we want to see.

Should we give our memories that much time to get edited?

What is lost when memories are lost? Not just the memories of the large sweeping narratives of history but the small everyday conflicts of our lives and the deep pains and pleasures of our natural existence? Is there value in them? Should they be chronicled in the only manner we can, from our perspective? Should they be chronicled as they take place so we don’t lose them? Or must we respect forgetting as part of the nature of experience and let it be as it was meant to?

Are memories meant to be forgotten and should writing not interfere with the forgetting process? Should some things be left alone?

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106 thoughts on “Should you write about everything?”

  1. Reflection shifts perception, which shifts the memory of the event. I like to see the shift that is chronicled in my blog. I am not sure I do anything with raw emotion. I almost always process it somehow first, so even my initial and seemingly reflective posts aren’t indicative of the even greater perspective shift to come.

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  2. Fantastic blog! Sooo helpful! Wish I had found it sooner!

    I saw that you had visited my “Randa Lane…” blog and liked what you saw. I hope you will visit often or, if the spirit moves you, “follow” along with those who enjoy my poetry, haiku, tanka, and other small verse forms. *easy smile*

    Randa Lane blog: http://randalane.wordpress.com

    Respect!

    -R-

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  3. When you write something down, is that not already an interpretation, a construction? It is what happened, filtered through your previous experiences. Somebody else going through the same things like you would maybe perceive, remember and write something totally different.
    However, I rarely write down what happened in my life in my blog. I mainly write about my thoughts and ideas, my philosophy.

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  4. Hi BottledWorder,

    Your post is quite thought provoking. So, am I making a mistake writing now that I am still in the moment after just reading your post? Or, am I taking advantage of your words fresh in my mind?

    I do think and have made the mistake of writing while ‘in the emotion”. I have unpublished one post and edited others. I believe that reflection broadens our perspective. Writing while it’s fresh, but with some time in between for things to settle.

    Thank you for liking my blog post. I’m still putting a lot of thought into how to write authentically, with value and influence an action at the same time. Great leaders do this. I think of Ghandi and Martin Luther King at this moment. There are so many absolutely amazing individuals who have moved mountains with their words.

    Your blog has a wonderful essence. It’s straight and soft at the same time. Great to begin to know you. I look forward to following your blog and learning more as I peruse your posts.

    With love, Amanda

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  5. Thanks for liking my blog and giving me the opportunity to find yours in return. I’m looking forward to having a good rummage around and I love what I’ve read so far. I am very new to this whole blogging thing and am trying to do something a bit interactive but whether it will catch on or not remains to be seen. However I’m enjoying learning more about the whole blogging world in the meantime. 🙂

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  6. I feel like everything should be given some time before it is written about. The key comes from the intensity of the writer. If the writer feels compelled to write about his or her subject, especially after delaying getting started, then that is a good sign that the topic is worth writing about.
    –JW

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  7. Thank you for liking my post. I am a first time blogger and hope to be a published author some day. I am still working on what to post on my blog. I post just for the experience of writing down my thoughts. You have some very interesting blog topics that I think will be helpful to me.

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  8. You hit on some good points. I have two other blogs. A “professional blog” where I chronicle my professional and educational pursuits. Attached to it is a book review blog… attached to those I have a facebook page that followers can “like” and follow, as well as a goodreads account, pinterest, etc.

    However, THIS is my anonymous blog. In the past I would create personal blogs and share the link with close friends. I have not even done that with this blog. I may never. I don’t know. As you pointed out, when you KNOW some of your audience that is reading, the temptation to alter the writing is there.

    I also liked the points on when to write about something. Should one write in the heat of the moment, or wait until later to reflect? I’ve done both… writing in the heat of the moment can be very therapeutic. However, later when I have calmed down and go to read comments from people, I find myself defending those I was upset with, or realizing maybe I over-reacted, or that I may have even needed to share more background info to give a more complete picture, because now readers have the wrong impression from lack of information. It’s a fine line, I think. Perhaps a disclaimer should be posted, something along the lines of, “hey, I’m pissed, hurt, upset, insert other words here and venting…. after I cool off and have time to reflect, I may feel differently.” 🙂 Lately I’ve found myself writing snarky or venting posts, and then when I get done, I delete them.

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  9. Funny that I should be coming back to this blog, but a recent experience is worth considering.

    I asked my sister to read over the final part of my 4-part blog. She asked that I change 1 line of it. Why? She thought it was too “crude.” I had a choice–to keep in the perfect description or respect her wishes. I chose to change it out of respect for the hell I put her through. That 1 line in a 4-part blog didn’t seem worth the animosity it would cause.

    Would you have done the same?

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  10. Capturing the raw emotion of an event gives my writing the impact I want, but not right away. There is a difference between those first words scribbled on paper (tear stains optional) and the work that might be shared later. By all means, write it down– we are writers, how can we not– but take a deep breath, put it away for a while and come back in calmer times. Those strong feelings should be the foundations of writing, obvious only in the fact that what they support is all the better for it.

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  11. You just hit ‘like’ on my most recent post which was mentioning that I got published on an external website, so I popped over here to visit.

    What you wrote here is quite pertinent to what I’m feeling right now. As my own post gets some exposure (and I am now much less ‘anonymous’), I can’t help but feel a little bit of guilt / worry that the person that I’m mentioning in the post will see it and view it negatively, even though as I was writing and posting it, I was sure that I was being as kind and neutral as possible.

    So my conclusion is that the bigger your audience is, the more exposure that you get, there is bound to be someone who doesn’t like it. I guess it’s just the risk we take by making ourselves vulnerable.

    And I certainly feel vulnerable right now! 🙂

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  12. Hmm… Great question. I’d like to say both. Write now, write later. Write always. Yeah. That probably sounds pretty silly but i know there are many things that it’s important to get the immediate flavor of the emotions down as best as possible. I’ve had moments where it’s all just a terrible mess and i’ve written the mess. And it’s… well… messy. Years later i can review those things and look at the mess i’ve chronicled and make more sense of it in a way and even refine the mess itself.

    Then it becomes a matter of finding the story for it all and the character that can best tell it. To me this is the fun part of writing. You have the thing, this emotional wreckage – it has color and taste and a certain feel to it – and you have to find the right story and character to carry it. I can’t say i’ve always succeeded at it. In fact, i continually fail. but at least i can say i fail the best i know how.

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  13. This is something that I have struggled with myself. Personally, I’ve found that I need to remove myself from the situation, otherwise my work colored by my emotional blocks. However, I think it just depends on the writer. I know many a writer who is fueled by it.

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  14. It very much depends on how much of yourself you want to expose to the world. Some experiences and memories I’d rather keep to myself, but also this is not to say I won’t filter them through fiction. Bringing your own experience to your writing adds a priceless depth, I think.

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  15. I was faced with some of those very questions today as I wrote. There are definitely some things to keep to yourself. Maybe, some day, they may be written about. For now the words are mine and only mine. I don’t always agree that the moment needs to be fresh. My friends died 39 years ago to the day I finally wrote about it with emotion. It, obviously, took a very long time to get that event out there. When my mom died a year and a half ago, I wrote while she was dying and after. There are some after her death that no one will read because it was written through wine and tears.

    Great posting. Gave me many thoughts to ponder.

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  16. A memory is like a photograph in a way. When I take a photograph, I’m not just trying to capture an image, but a snapshot of the way I feel when I take the picture. If I didn’t write down how I felt during a given situation soon after it occurred, then I might forget how I felt and the truth of what I felt would be lost to me, and thus lost to anybody who read what I wrote (unless I had a good memory for feelings that is).

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  17. Superb thoughts on writing. But I ask, if one is compelled to write, and invective speech or bitter thoughts are absent, should the filters still be applied? Is it ok to write as fast as the emotions of gratitude wash over you? I worry now that perhaps my methods are uncultivated…

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  18. Some things need not be written, especially if they will cause more harm than good when read, by others or even the author him/herself.
    If they are to be written, then better do it while the feelings and details are still fresh.

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  19. This has hit home for me as a close friend took his life a few months back and it’s taken me until now to be able to write about it. As you’ve said, I’m finding it difficult to express everything that happened between us as some things are so private. I guess it’s about deciding who you’re writing for and what you want to do with it – there’s something liberating about writing for yourself only. (ps thanks for visiting my blog :-))

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  20. Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Thank you for posting this. It’s a great reminder. Thank you as well for visiting my blog. I hope I’ll become one of those little-known gems you talked about in another post.

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  21. Thank you so much for this post. I have lately been writing about the recent death of my father. I have however decided not to share these writings. These are the most sacred and emotionally raw writings that I have done and I do not want them up for review, interpretation, or discussion with my peers. I never thought about writers having to make those decisions until I had to.

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  22. It all depends on how well you want to be known in the world. I tend not to tell as much as I used to because some things need to remain in the offline world. Our personal lives can be a rich source of emotions that we can use in our writing, but not all of our personal lives should be rich sources of news. People are information hounds, but there’s enough information already out in the world. They don’t need me to get a fix. And we ALL know people that are guilty of oversharing, of the TMI… I just never wanted to be put in that category.

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  23. I choose the category of, “write it while it’s fresh.” Or, as I told the lady at TSA who asked before she frisked me, “Is there any part of your body that’s sensitive?”
    ——————–“I’ve been married 5 times. There’s nothing there that ain’t been touched.” ————–

    For me, the only reason NOT to write something down for the world to see is the same reason the Batman character said he wears a mask–not to protect himself but the ones he loves. Oh, and possibly not to get sued, too.

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  24. Last year I wrote about my Dad & his subsequent death from a brain tumor 3wks later. If I hadn’t written that time would have passed in a blur for me. If its a personal blog then one should type from the personal perspective. I’m the only person I know who’s an expert on me & my life 🙂 Thank goodness no one who knows me reads what I type!

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    1. We have similar life experiences as my father just recently passed as well. And I completely agree that everything is still a blur for me and I am glad that I am writing as much as I can so that my feelings can be articulated better later in my life regarding this experience. I am just not as brave as you to share these writings with the blog world. Kudos to you for being able to. 🙂

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  25. Perhaps writing is one of the purest forms of forgetting, not remembering. Give yourself enough distance from a trying event or relationship, write down what it feels to you this moment, and you’ll come to “forget” what so troubled you to begin with.

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  26. What is the true purpose of writing about personal emotional experiences whether good or bad? The reader, unless in some way connected to the experience, has no connection with that written unless it is expressed in a generic or as metaphoric form of expression – translating the true experience to a broader field of understanding and relationship.
    Through my writing experience I tend to respond to external stimulus or a stream of words that enters my consciousness and then find a way to express the `thought’ ideally, in a manner as to let the reader find their own interpretation. This is not always the case but one utilized most often.

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  27. Personally, I feel as if writing later seems to bastardize the original event. When you write closer to the event you are experiencing everything in the moment and as long as you are the type of writer who is honest about their feelings and voice it will translate itself better onto the page. Whatever the event and whatever the emotion, it is instantly spread out in a style that is pure and honest. I think this can be lost with time. The more time passes, the more these feelings can start to seem foreign to the reader. The experience is bastardized into something that may not represent what was actually experienced in the original event.

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