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Writing about trauma

Experiencing a stressful, distressing, or frightening event is trauma, and it can have a devastating effect on the individual at the brunt of it. People manage their experiences in different ways, but over the years we have come to see more and more people writing books, recording podcasts, and speaking at events. While there is still a lot of shame attached to trauma, there are more people every day who are shedding light on the dark parts of their story.

In fact, at Orsum, our own founder built up her personal brand by sharing anecdotes of her own life on social media, until she felt brave enough to write her memoir. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely considered what it might be to start writing about your life, to touch on subjects you have barely spoken about, and to turn it into something.

But writing about yourself is scary.

People tend to worry about the consequences of telling their story, others don’t really care. It’s better to just write about it and decide at the end what you’re going to do with it. Not every part of our lives is for public viewing, but we don’t know that until we’ve read it back. Sometimes writing about our experiences is enough the heal the part of us that never felt seen or heard. Sometimes we feel driven to share our experiences with other people, in the hope we and they might find some connection in it.

Ultimately, the exercise of actually writing down your story, your thoughts and emotions, the act itself is incredibly powerful. Sometimes the only conversation we need to have is a very honest one with ourselves.

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Expressive writing will give you wings

When you write about you, you write your truth. It can be hard, but also liberating. Having a complete piece of work will give you context, editing will give you clarity on what you are happy to share and what you need to take out. You may decide the only audience you want is yourself, your friends or your family. You may choose instead to share it with the public. Taking time to write and think about it will help you.

There are a number of ways to write about your trauma without explicitly stating that it is based on truth:

Short stories – think of them as snapshots of your life, with a few fictional characters to shake things up a little.

Poetry – In the past I’ve found poetry a great way of expressing my hurt and anger. It is quite literally a tool for turning pain into art.

Blog posts – You can turn your experiences of trauma into How-To’s, Tool-kits, Top Ten’s etc.

Self-help – You can indirectly use your trauma to write a guide for overcoming it. Where in your life did you face your biggest challenges? What did it teach you? How did you get help?

Writing about it in this way will create some distance between you now and you then. It will help you to feel more in control in what you share and how it affects you. You’ll focus less on telling your story and more on how to draw the lessons or inspiration from it. But ultimately, you will put pen to paper and start the process.

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