There was a time (probably when I was thirteen or so) when I made absolutely everything up. I'm talking straight-up fiction here. My characters were not specific people in my life, my heroine tended to be very different from myself, and I imagined every plot as a what-if-this-happened and every conversation as this-might-be-said-in-real-life. I thought my life was utterly boring. So I made up entirely new ones.
At some later point, I looked at my writing and it was truth. (Don't get me wrong, it's a writer's right to exaggerate. They do call it story-telling after all.)
The emotions were how I honestly felt (which caused some sporadic bursts of angst in a comedic scene, etc., before I realized the brilliance of scrap-piling). Situations were inspired by occurrences in my life or were secondhand translated from the stories of my friends. And personalities were mash-ups of those who surrounded me. My writing became more and more real, and thus, harder and harder to share.
Now I'm taking time to address my on-going dilemma. How much can I share? When are things too personal? When are things not my secrets to tell? Mainly: Am I brave enough to be honest? Because it's when I'm able to that my best writing occurs. When I'm fearless I create. When I'm uncensored I affect.
I guess this is my warning. (Ha!) I have to tell the story I have to tell, and if that includes you so be it. An artist uses a muse, a musician plays the lyrics from the heart, and a writer compiles reality to figure out life. I must not be held back by my insecurities. Writing is hard enough without constantly agonizing over if you're going to offend someone or if your audience isn't going to relate to your experiences.
Besides, it's not like they have disclaimers for nothing.