Picking Your Battles: Writing About the Hard Stuff

In my experience, writing about challenging times in my life is sometimes super easy. It all just gushes out on the page, messy as it is. Sometimes, it’s just hard. Reliving those moments and feeling those emotions can stir things up and make me feel uncomfortable. If I put my pen down and walk away, I might return to it…I might not.

Sometimes, you simply might not know what to say.

This happened to me last week when the Women’s Marches were happening, and people were responding to the current administration and all that it might mean for the world and our children. I felt the exciting-weird-unsettling adventure out there, and I knew that historic moments were being made, and that there would be so many voices with so many viewpoints rising up.

Surely, I told myself, I would have something to say about that. For myself, for my kids, for others. There certainly was plenty of feelings inside swirling around.


I held my journal and pen, and breathed into those empty pages. For hours.

I breathed into what all of this might mean to me, what my role is, and how I could do better in my own life. I breathed into what my children might have to navigate as they move out into the world. I breathed into my frustrating lack of action and my fiery heart to explore what was mine to do.

What really was mine to say? What did I want my kids to learn from everything that’s happening? What message did I want to get across and who the hell would care?

I didn’t know. And that was ok. When I put my journal away, it was still empty. Whatever is to be put onto those pages will eventually come. For now, I will let it go to perk away inside, and hopefully grab bits and pieces as they surface.


Sharing the challenging parts of ourselves involves courage and vulnerability. The parts that are grappling with right and wrong, choice-making, regret, taking a stand, unhelpful behaviors or emotions, painful events – they all deserve an ear. Be a bit gentle on yourself when writing about these areas…give yourself time and space. Feel out what you’re ready and willing to put out there.

While we struggle to share circumstances, events, and our thoughts behind them, we are also reaching forward to those who might read our words. We might write from a desire to be heard and witnessed, validated, or simply to make it so someone else doesn’t fall into the same traps we did. We might write to inspire, to let others know we were there too, and they can get to the other side. We might write to guide, pass along wisdom, give the gift of our learnings and warnings.

We might write to save someone, or the world.