Often we hear ‘write what you know’ when talking about writing stories. But what if ‘what you know’ is so raw that writing about it will cause a significant amount of pain?
Writing about experiences, trauma, and thoughts can be a useful way of processing those events that have caused us pain. The process of writing allows us to separate from the event by externalising it on paper or screen, where we can then look at it more objectively. Writing is also a process that takes time, thus writing about specific events can slow down your thoughts to a manageable pace. This also allows space for you mind to process the events and the pain associated with those events.
I guess the question is not ‘do I write from my own experiences or not’, but rather ‘who am I writing for’? If your writing is to explore and process your own pain, you may find you are writing for yourself in the first instance. Later this might turn into something for others, but for now it is personal. If you decide you’re writing for others, then your experiences and pain might be used as inspiration or fodder for your writing, and may still be somewhat cathartic, but is more focused on writing for the enjoyment tor education of an external audience.
What am I doing? Mostly using thoughts and experiences to create something fictionalised for others. But like a lot of people, I still often write for my own peace of mind. Writing is, after all, one of the most powerful tools available to all of us!