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  1. raveonette
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    raveonette Member

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    Autobiographical Elements/Therapeutic Writing Advice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by raveonette, Sep 21, 2008.

    I find writing to be a release. I love describing things and feeling that I've captured something in the words--a feeling, a character, a reality of some sort. So that's what I write. Therapeutic stuff that's often heavily based on personal experience, past or present. I'm not interested in fantasy, or horror, or romance (at least not the harlequin kind). I'm interested in real life, a la modernist stream of consciousness kinda technique.

    The trouble is that putting together a plot feels contrived, and too transparent. Does anyone else write like this/for these reasons, and feel the same trouble? I don't finish anything. I think this also has to do with criticizing myself too heavily and shooting too high.. I still don't know how to come up with a good plot. It seems real life doesn't always work like that. And making up stuff completely feels hopelessly cheesy, I think because my creative/visionary skills may be too weak and that's why I rely on autobiography so heavily.

    Anyone understand? Advice?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I totally understand where you're coming from. Everything I've written includes bits of my own life in it, even something as general as the MC happens to also have a twin brother and they have a shaky relationship, like myself. I struggled for a long time with creating stories that weren't just me writing about myself to make myself feel better. Try to look outside yourself. Think of the character as someone other than yourself. And give yourself permission to write badly.
     
  3. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    I think that everyone does that to an extent and I believe that any genre can be a canvass for your personal viewpoints, thoughts, experiences, etc. What I'm writing right now is in the horror genre but I've filled the first several pages with things that come right out of my own experience. The one downside to this, however, is that when writing from the heart I think that things can sometimes get inflated. Like I said I'm several pages in and all that's happened so far is my character thinking about something. That worries me but it is what it is. I've been using these pages to get out some of my frustrations on the things that can paralyze an aspiring writer, namely self doubt, perfectionism, and all their happy friends. I mentioned in another thread how I've wanted to be a writer for 20 years but haven't finished anything. I always start doubting the quality of the prose and stop. Hopefully I can force myself to keep going this time.
     
  4. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    That seems pretty easy (for me to say).

    I'm hearing that you don't like fiction, at least not intense fiction, so why write it?

    If I want to write my life story, but not write a biography, then I'd write a novel with a guy like me but change his name location, etc. Charles Bukowski used to write his life story over and over in many ways, and the plot was just about what happened the time he did XYZ; that's it.

    I'm not interested in this type of thing, but it seems like it would give you lots of flexibility. You have your Truth and whatever fiction you want can mix.

    Just don't go on Oprah after you wrote that "you" were in a Mexican street gang, or anything, if you weren't. Just tell 'em it's a novel.
     
  5. ecanusia16
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    ecanusia16 Member

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    As writers, we all want to be heard and recognized (don't we?) and that includes showcasing a part of ourselves to the world. We really can't help it. Everyone's favorite topic is themselves! I can relate to the feeling of being too critical with oneself but sometimes you just have to shut off that voice and write with reckless abandon.

    I like Fantasy and Horror and Speculative Fiction but I don't believe "real life writing" lacks plot any less than its heavy-fiction counterparts. Maybe you just have to leave your world (your descriptions, your feelings, your reality) and find out what it's like in other people's world. Colliding with realities/worlds/experiences other than your own might be a plot all by itself.
     
  6. cieeciee
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    cieeciee Member

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    I read your post with great interest. I was very curious to see how others responded. I fall, unfortunately, more into your camp. So, I don't think I can give you any hope for concrete solutions to your problem, but I can empathize with you, and I think that you aren't alone.

    Writing, for me is extremely theraputic, so theraputic, my entire life changed 180 degrees due to journal writing alone.

    I have struggled with being creative my whole life. I am still struggling and sometimes, when I think I finally have the answer, it becomes elusive once again and evaporates and I am back to self-doubt and anxiety.

    For me, the energy that drives me to create comes directly from my own life experience and the emotional impact it has on me.

    I have slowly been able to turn this emotional energy, from the imagery and symbols it generates, into story and plot, but it isn't easy and it doesn't always work and feels forced. I guess, for me, I am just drawn to story that is full of emotional intensity, dark and light. So, for now, my own experience and themes are what gets my butt in the chair, so I keep doing it to see if will amount to anything.

    I don't know if that is at all similar to what you are experiencing. I am just trying to write for me, and trying to trust the process and hope I come out the other end with something that I can actually share.

    Good luck.
    CieeCiee
     
  7. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    You and me both. I've never cared for "this happened, then that happened, then this other thing happened" type of storytelling. I want to know what the character is thinking, what he's feeling. That's the type of writing I like to read and it's what I try to do myself. That doesn't mean I don't want there to be a story in there. There certainly needs to be. But I want the characters to proceed through those story elements in a thoughtful way.
     

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