Writing About a Personal Experience

A photo of Orla Broderick
Category: Writing

I started writing in order to better understand life. I looked around and saw all the stories hidden inside the people I met. I saw the joy and the sadness they hid in their eyes. When my child was born I was overcome with a love I could not contain. I wanted to celebrate that with the world. But the world is used to children being born and mine was no more or less special than any other. Millions of people find themselves with that very same love every minute of every day. It’s the same with every other life happening. No matter what you are going through, there are others dealing with the same thing, to a greater or lesser extent. This sounds quite simple, but it really helps me explore what is happening and embrace all that life can give.

On a blank page I write the thing that happened that touched me in some way. Even if it’s a very silly thing, I know someone else will have done the same or been in the same position. I search inside myself for how I truly felt at that time and I write down those emotions. I want to touch you with my writing, just in some small way. I want you to feel something. I want to share with you, to connect with you, in the hope that you don’t feel so alone in your situation.

Sometimes when we see our truths written down in front of us we can see ourselves as others see us.

I’d like everyone to write how they really truly felt about the happiest time. Then write about the saddest hardest time. These are our human lives. I believe we must share them. I believe we must each honour and respect others – and one way to do that is to write honestly and openly about your own life, in the safe knowledge that millions of others have similar stories. If everyone in the world was given a pen and paper and told to write the first thing in their heart and then we each read ten honest heart stories a week I truly believe we would reach a greater understanding of each other. We would be unable to judge or criticise each other - because we are all just earthlings living the life we were given and trying to make sense of it the best we can.

Sometimes when we see our truths written down in front of us we can see ourselves as others see us. We can see how wonderfully frail we are. We can see how marvellously brave we are. We can see how we hurt others. We can see how we have hurt. That means we can either celebrate ourselves or try and change to be better to our fellow earthlings.

I think stories about Journeys are fabulous. We travel every night in our dreams. Where do we go? Imagine if we could each remember? Have you tried writing down the first things that pop into your head when you wake up? I have. Mainly, it looks like total nonsense but once or twice it’s made some sense to me!

Bus journeys are amazing because you are trapped with strange smells. Walks on the beach or in the forest are true adventures, especially if you believe in fairies, or if you like to spot birds and other earthlings. If we can combine a day out on a train with how it really truly felt - then we can make a very interesting story that someone else can relate to. 

Please don’t sit in isolation with your tale of a time that you travelled. Share it with me, please. Touch my heart with it.


Get personal with other writers in these 10 Memorable Memoirs

Orla Broderick

Orla Broderick's first novel, The January Flower, launched in December 2012, in the living room of her home, with mulled wine and chocolate truffles she made herself. Orla has given readings and spoken at workshops. The January Flower was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Originally from Wicklow Town in Ireland, she now lives on the Isle of Skye with her daughter and dog. Orla received a New Writers Award in 2014.