Writing About Negative Experiences

Image for Writing About Negative Experiences - You made it through the storm. What did you gain? What did you lose?Many memoir writers struggle with writing about negative experiences, even though they are vital to explaining the writer’s point of view. Some people just don’t like to “dwell on the negative” while others are uncomfortable sharing their worst moments or traits, or those of someone they love.

There are at least a couple of reasons that you should consider including “negative” memories. First of all, it can be very therapeutic to write about your darkest memories. I won’t go into the psychology, but for many memoir writers, it turns out to be an unexpected bonus. Another reason is because most of us are in some way or other shaped by our negative experiences. Some of them make us stronger, some damage our spirit or our bodies, and some do both. For your readers, this insight can transform the way they understand you. It might also strengthen them in their own life challenges. Writing about negative experiences may actually be where your stories have the most impact.

If you are not certain you want to include a negative story, take a little time to explore it. Write down the major issue and a list of events or circumstances surrounding the issue. Write down the people involved and the emotions you were feeling. If there is anything that begs to be explained, write the explanation. List the lessons you learned, the ways in which you grew, or ways that the experience changed the course of your life.

After you’ve explored it, let it sit for a week or so and then revisit it. Chances are your brain will have come to a conclusion about whether or not to include it. If not, set it aside and make the decision at a later time. If you are worried that it might be upsetting to someone you care about, consider telling them about it ahead of time and maybe even let them read it. In the end, it’s your story and your call.

I would love to hear your thoughts on writing about your negative experiences. Use the Comments section below to share with our readers.

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