I have some good story ideas, but there’s a catch…they all happened to me. I think they’re lessons others can learn from which is why I want to pitch them but I’m also afraid of exposing myself. Is it a bad idea? — M.W.
What’s too personal is anything you may read online or in print years from now and regret revealing.
What’s too personal is anything that may elicit a negative or judgmental reader response you’re unprepared to handle.
What’s too personal is anything that may get you charged with a felony if you write it out and put your name to it.
If your story is one from which you grew or learned and one that carries wider societal implications or impact, then it may be worth telling. Anything that is complaining, blaming or victim-shaming will probably not take you far. Anything that shows you made extremely poor judgment without learning from it — you wrote letters to a convict, then he showed up at your house upon release ready to skin your cat, and now he’s back in jail, but you two are thinking of getting engaged — is probably not a good idea. If you fell for a scam, got an incurable STD or channeled Winona Ryder’s shopping habits and want to tell others how to avoid these pitfalls and behaviors, go for it.
Get my point? Make it relevant, timely, service-oriented and clearly-stated. Make it clear you’ve learned from the ordeal and have reflected enough to be able to tell your story without going off the deep end and blaming the world for whatever happened.
Have you ever stopped yourself from writing something because it’s too personal?