Personal Writing and the Collective Heart  // Trina O'Gorman

Personal Writing and the Collective Heart // Trina O'Gorman

I have circled back to this piece, which is about the power of expressive writing, with new thoughts swirling around in my head. Friday, January 27, 2017 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and while I, in no way, wish to compare what is happening in our world today to the genocide of Jews at the hands of Hitler’s Nazi Party, for fear of trivializing one of the most horrific acts in human history, I cannot help but to think about the power of personal writing, as the day brought to mind thoughts of Anne Frank and her much-read diary. I do wish to draw a bold and very daring comparison to a young thirteen-year-old girl named Anne Frank, who kept a journal while in hiding during the Holocaust, a journal that, while she wrote it in solitude, seemed to have the world in mind. Anne Frank is within all of us. Within those pages she wrote that she did not wish to die in vain and that we had the power to change the world. She wasn’t naively idealistic. Her words actually have changed the world.

“Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year old school girl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.” - Anne Frank

I’ve kept my own notebooks since I was a young girl, thinking that no one would be interested in the musings of Trina at age 9 or 49, and yet my Instagram feed featuring my notebooks has grown to more than 20,000 followers in a relatively short period of time. During this time, I have been honored and fortunate enough to share my writing experience with others, as well as share writing experiences with others. Through all of this, I have come to conclude that many of us write for the same reasons that Anne Frank wrote:
“I can shake off everything as I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” - Anne Frank

We write to shake things off. To gain insight from our observations. To make sense of our lives. To remember. To heal. To grow. We write because writing can bring us joy, and yes because it can make our sorrows disappear. And for me, my courage is reborn daily. In this way, I realize I am no different than that 13-year-old girl, who wrote secretly, hidden away in a Secret Annex. And as I continue to write and share writing with others, I find that many of you are no different than her or me. Across miles, cultures, faiths, generations, there is something about us that is the same. 

Our shared innermost thoughts, confessions, secrets, and insights are perhaps at the very core of what profoundly defines our humanity. Regardless of faith, age, gender, culture, there are recurring themes, themes that enable us to find resonance in the writings of a thirteen-year-old girl. Themes that enable us to build bridges with people from all over the world — people of all genders, religions, sexual orientations, political beliefs. And I’ve got this crazy notion that the more connected we realize we are, the better off the human race will be. 

When I hold a workshop and we share what we’ve written, our innermost secrets and insights and thoughts and opinions, do not separate us or divide us. Time and time again, I’ve listened to people read their journals aloud, to complete strangers and bond. It is shocking to me, though by now it shouldn’t be, just how easy it is to find ways to connect and feel connected with other human beings. These recurring themes are no coincidence. As personal as our experiences are, we are not alone in experiencing them. 

In the spirit of never forgetting the atrocities of the Holocaust and of paying tribute to Anne Frank and the indelible power of the written word’s ability to connect us all, I ask you to write collaboratively with me. 

Here is the writing prompt: 

What does world peace look like? Do you believe it is attainable? If not, why? If so, what are some of the steps that we need to take to get there?

I would like to extend an invitation to share your thoughts with others on Sunday, February 19, 2017, at 9 PM EST. I will host an online open mic night with 20 participants. Each person will be given the mic for three minutes to share all or an excerpt of what he or she has written. You can register to participate at If you are unable to attend or even if you are and wish to share what you’ve written on Instagram, please do so, in the spirit of collaboratively writing for peace, at #NTBKPeace

In Peace + Love,


Written by: 
Trina O'Gorman


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