If you knew no one would ever see your work, what would you write?
The above was posted today on a members only website group called SheWrites. The question was used in a list of writing prompts. I usually push writing for publication, but there's probably a benefit for some people to write something that no one else will ever see.
If you write to this purpose, you can dig deep into your feelings about a situation that may have been filled with anguish, fear, or loathing. What you might not be able to say publicly can be said in this one- on-one type of writing. Pull out all stops and let the words flow freely. Having done a little of this kind of writing myself, I know that sometimes what comes out is a surprise even to the writer. Once we let our emotions surface as we delve into a long-buried event or a period in our lives, the words seem to flow endlessly. And when you read those words, you may feel vindicated, cleansed, or satisfied, depending on what you're writing about. Writing in this vein is a step in the healing process for many people.
It sounds like all I'm advocating here is to write about negative happenings, but if you stop and think about it, happy times are the ones we're eager to share with others. So there seems to be no need to write about delightful times only for ourselves.
I once wrote a short essay called "Dusting Off Those Holiday Memories." I suggested spending a little time alone with holiday memories that contained difficult times. Look at them, assess them, and return them to your memory bank in hopes that they may not seem so dismal. Sometimes the deeper we bury the bad memories, the more they nag at us. I think it's good to revisit them from time to time.
So consider the exercise above and ask yourself what you might write if you knew no one would ever see it. Secret writing may not bring publication or a paycheck, but the personal benefit might be well worth it.