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Tell Your Own Story—and Stop

201. Tell Your Own Story—and Stop

Sometimes I have to slow myself down in the midst of my talking and ask: Who does this story belong to?—this story I’m getting ready to tell?

When I was leading writing workshops for fifteen years there was a perfect illustration of this question. When we gathered, we would take turns reading whatever we had written for that day. And we often talked about confidentiality and making it a safe space for people to read.

The illustration is that one time a woman read about a squirrel getting into her house and the effect it had on her and her husband as they struggled to get it out again. She had written it well, it had moments of humor in it, and it was just a fun story. That was my example of a story we could repeat because of the fun of it—because it wouldn’t embarrass her—because it was a delight.

And in the same session someone else read something that was a deep sharing. It was personal, even difficult for the writer to share, and it was definitely THAT person’s story—not to be shared by any of the rest of us.

Those examples have given me the guidelines I go by but more important they help me remember to stop and think: is this my story to share or does it really belong to someone else?

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