Writing for Oneself vs. Writing for Others

Lynette Benton is a writer and editor who runs a terrific blog about writing. She's especially interested in memoirs, and I'm delighted she asked me to write a guest blog about the differences between writing we do for ourselves vs. writing for others. Check out Lynette's blog, Polish and Publish | Tools and Tactics for Creative Writers.

Here's what I wrote:
For more than 30 years, I’ve been a passionate journal-writer. Fifteen years ago, when I first got an inkling that I might have been sexually abused as a child, the journal became a life-line. I had a wonderful therapist, but I needed an everyday friend to hear my ramblings.

I’d sit at my kitchen table and scrawl, no structure, no cohesion, just the outpouring of doubt and pain. I followed Peter Elbow’s advice of “freewriting,” letting it come uncensored, pen flying, words repeating. Over and over I told myself, “It’s just for me. No one will ever read it.”

When I received the inspiration to write a memoir, I knew I’d draw on the earlier journals for details of conversations, memories, and emotions, but the new writing was startlingly different. Having an audience in mind gave me responsibility for creating a narrative thread, finding a clear voice to address the reader, and honing the prose to carry the story forward. Read on...

Daily Meditation with the Inner Child

Sixteen years ago, I was slammed by a memory of sexual abuse. I was only three years old when the incest started, and I repressed the memories to survive in my family. After I remembered, I absolutely had to dedicate myself to caring for my wounded, sad Inner Child and healing her. Her feelings were so overwhelming that I developed a practice of sitting every morning with her before I went off to work.

Ever since then, I’ve been caring for my Inner Child—learning to listen to her and nurture her.  I needed to let her know that I believed her and I that would always be there, the strong Inner Adult (Big Jane). I wrote about this journey of healing in my memoir, The River of Forgetting.

Now I’m at a place of peace about the abuse. It should never have happened, it was wrong, my father was a selfish man, but it doesn’t rule my life. Still, I am drawn to care for this inner child, or these inner children. Every morning without fail I sit for 20 minutes and listen. It has become integrated into my spiritual life.

This morning, for example, my inner children were agitated, busy, full of idea of things to do. I smiled and rocked in my rocking chair, holding their anxious energy and letting the quiet of my living room envelop us. Other days my little girls bring sadness or excitement or love or fear about relationships. All those feelings are welcome. As I sit and let them be, I find peace again. Insights and understandings come, but the main thing is to be there and be open.