Why You Should Write Your Personal Stories

Take the plunge to share your writing

Penny Zang
Writing 101
Published in
4 min readMar 4, 2020

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The thought of sharing my story terrifies me.

What would people think?

What if someone hates it or picks it apart?

I’m a private person, so I don’t talk about X.

Tell the truth: you’ve had one of these above thoughts, too, haven’t you? If you’re anything like my students, writing about yourself feels like exposing a part of your inner self that you weren’t planning on exposing. I’m not just talking about a cute anecdote that you’ve told so many times you have it memorized. And I’m not referring to surface-level biographical information about your hobbies and where you’re from.

I’m talking about the personal stuff. The real, raw, truthful stuff that only a few people — or maybe no one — knows about you. Those are the stories you’re holding in, and they are, in most cases, the stories that most desperately need to be told.

Here’s the thing: storytelling is one of the most effective ways to build relationships and form connections with others. This may mean writing a blog post or a short essay. We could also be talking about the ‘About Me” section of your website here. Emails, newsletters, and public speaking events are all occasions to tell a story and build those bridges between you and whoever it is you imagine on the other side.

The Power of storytelling

In a Forbes interview, Geoffery Berwind, a professional Storytelling Consultant and Trainer (yes, that’s a thing) says, “Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others (Example or Proof stories) our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people — people who have lives outside the corporate setting, people who have struggled with problems and who have figured out how to overcome them.”

It’s that easy, right?

Nope. Not at all.

When I shared (on Facebook) the following article about dropping out of college, I felt sick. Physically ill.

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Penny Zang
Writing 101

English professor in SC and book nerd. Debut novel: Doll Parts, forthcoming from Sourcebooks, 2025.