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...

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