Why I Don’t Write About Family
“Write what you know” is common advice given to writers. For a lot of people, that means writing about their families and relationships.
After all, these everyday occurrences — the happy moments as well as the conflicts — make up a significant portion of our lives. We spend a lot of our time and energy navigating these events.
But when I write, I try to avoid writing about my family as much as possible. It’s not that I don’t like writing about personal topics. I really do! But my family does not want me to write about anything they say or do.
One person said, “Just because I tell you something, it doesn’t mean I want the whole world to know it.” (Okay, ironic. But it proves my point.)
I was not really surprised when most of my family members decided not to start social media accounts. No Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for them. They are very private people, and don’t see any value in broadcasting others what they’re doing all the time.
I’m the total opposite. I use social media to keep up with friends. I write a lot about my experiences.
So I sometimes feel that there’s a huge gap in my writing. I love reading essays with people’s thoughts and experiences with relationships and parenting. And I have a lot of great stories I could tell. But it doesn’t seem to be in my writer’s toolkit.
If I do talk about my family, I do so in vague terms. I stick to the facts, or only mention a major event. I don’t include photos or dialogue.
I don’t think this will change much if I have kids, either. There are downsides to posting too much about children on social media. Posting cute photos is one thing, but I have seen some people overshare, not realizing that they’re invading their child’s privacy.
I’m really glad social media didn’t exist when I was a kid. I had no digital footprint until I formed one of my own. So I would want my kids to have that same freedom.
I would love to write more about my personal life, but those stories affect more than just me. My family is more private than most, and I respect that. I know that not every story is mine to tell.