Once upon a time, I had an experience where something happened with a Tarot client. Something bad.
It was complicated and distressing and scary. At one point, I felt my personal safety was at risk. While all of this craziness was going down, I felt a strong urge to write about it.
“I can help other people avoid this situation!” I thought to myself. “I need to share my story!”
I wrote a blog post and I was just about to publish it.
But then a tiny voice inside of me said, “Don’t.”
I didn’t publish it… and I am glad I didn’t. Looking back, I can see that it would have been a mistake.
As a business owner and blogger, I share a lot of details about my life and biz. I write honestly and openly and there’s very little that I hold back. That being said, part of maturing as a writer (and human being) means understanding that not every story needs to be publicly shared.
Sometimes, a story is not “yours” to share. Too many other people are involved. People who could get hurt by your words, even if your only intent is to help and heal.
Sometimes, the potential “downside” of sharing a true story is greater than the potential “benefit.” It’s a tricky balance, at times, but if you hear a little voice inside whispering, “Don’t share this—at least, not right now” it’s wise to listen to that voice.
It’s also good to remember that you can be “vulnerable” as a writer without revealing “vulnerable” details about your life—like where you live, where you spouse works, or where you get coffee every morning at 8am sharp.
You can be “honest” about your story without naming names, doling out blame, or putting people in harm’s way.
In some instances, it can beneficial to seek people’s “blessing” to share something. (“Hey mom, is it cool if I write about that huge fight we had back in ’92? Because I really think other moms and daughters could learn something from our story.”) so that you have their consent and support. This can prevent unnecessary friction and pain.
It’s also beneficial to take some time—maybe lots of time—before hitting “publish.” When you’re riled up and upset, that means you are writing from a “reactionary” place and you’re far more likely to say something you’ll later regret. Cool your jets. Tuck that draft away or delete it and re-write the story a few months (or years) down the road, once the dust has settled. You might find that there’s a big “lesson” amidst the rubble that you totally missed the first time around because you were so #$#% angry back then and couldn’t think (or write) clearly.
When you share a story—in person, online, in print, even privately amongst friends—make sure it’s a story that you’re not going to regret spilling tomorrow.
Just like a physician, your writing motto should be: Primum non nocere. “First, do no harm.”
Use your voice for good.
This means choosing your words with care, compassion and purposefulness.
And sometimes, in rare situations, it means… just keeping the story to yourself.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2015
picture from stock photography