1. TheNewGuy
    Offline

    TheNewGuy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    America

    Writing what you know

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TheNewGuy, Jul 26, 2010.

    Does anyone else have problems writing when the core theme/message of the piece touches a little close to home?

    For example, when I write a story and all of a sudden I find myself starting to write the character as if he were me, encountering things that I have encountered in my life (usually only the negative things--I'm a pessimist) it usually ruins the story for me. I can't seem to get past it.

    Maybe it's because I have yet to resolve the issues in my own life, but I find myself unable to dig my character out of his rut! Whenever my writing seems to resemble what I know, it cannot procede past a set point. What should I do? Erase it and try again? Power through without the feeling? Concentrate on my own life instead of writing it?
     
  2. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    LuleƄ, Sweden
    If you got issues that block you from handling some things in writing, leave them for now. In 20 years they might make awesome material.

    If you want to handle it you can try to write thoughtful and neutral and polite letters to yourself about your issues. It tend to help some people, is a very gentle method of self therapy and its writing training to. But leave you issues out of fiction until you are comfortable with it.

    If you can't use your own issues use issues of those around you. Friends, co-workers, family etc. They have faced ingesting thing things and you have heard and witnessed this stories.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    You may need to get some emotional distance to be able to write in a way that your readers will be able to relate to.

    But meanwhile, while the feelings are still potent, force yourself to write down what you feel and percieve about it now. The power in that fresh experience is what you will want to communicate, when you have found the distance to write the material without ripping your writhing intestines out and strangling yourself with them.
     
  4. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Yes right now I am writing an historical fiction short story, its proving really hard as I was an archaeologist/historian in a previous life. I find myself writing it like a report
     
  5. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    I think Cog's idea is best. Sometimes things strike a nerve and it goes off on a path it wasn't intended to go down. I've found that my negative and positive emotions I've felt throughout life have been very useful in my writing.

    There are so many different situations and only so many emotions one can experience. I've found I can usually apply some emotion I've felt at one time or another to my characters so that the reader can really get into their head and heart.

    The only problem is when, like you said, that you get the character in a rut. I think you need to give yourself time to heal from whatever is hurting you right now and move onto something else in the story. Definitely write it down though while it's fresh if its something you may not remember vividly later. Oddly with me I couldn't remember my emotions regarding certain things in any detail until years later. Probably some sort of subconscious protection... I digress.
     
  6. Tribe of Fools
    Offline

    Tribe of Fools New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Having lived a full life in which you've run through the entire gamut of emotions and situations the world could throw at you is probably the most important trait any writer could possess. My advice: use it. If it strikes a chord with you, it will strike one with every person who has ever been in your shoes and a fair amount who haven't.

    And really, if your writing doesn't affect your readers, what's the point?
     
  7. King Hawk
    Offline

    King Hawk Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    As in, before becoming a writer, or in a previous incarnation?

    Not that it matters either way, I was just wondering which you meant.
     
  8. Shinn
    Offline

    Shinn Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Writing what you know is the best thing you can do. I know lots military-related stuff, so I pull that knowledge out of my brain and put it on paper.
     
  9. TheNewGuy
    Offline

    TheNewGuy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    America
    I wish I knew something other than being an unemployed teenager. I have no life experiences! I would go so far as to say I have no life, but I don't think I am that hopeless... xD

    All I have are my emotions, and while I am typically an unemotional person, they run deep. That deep well of muted emotion, combined with a creative passion for storytelling, is how I come up with my ideas and start them on paper. It is the lack of emotional experience that pulls me up short.

    My dream is to become a filmmaker, and while I have a grounded sense of reality that tells me that in all probability it will not happen, I still have that dream. The Lord of the Rings films were the biggest kick in the rear (and kick in the ego) that made me want this. So while in reality I wait for nothing, I tend to write in fantasy and/or sci-fi.

    Perhaps for my current project I will ask a few people with real-life experience either with a job, or military expertise for an interview and I can get some of their emotion and insight into my writing.
     
  10. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    That would be a good idea. :) I unfortunately for me and fortunately for my writing (lol) have had a whole host of experiences I could have done without.

    If you don't have the experience in that area then I agree you ought to ask others who have been there about it.
     
  11. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    LOL sorry it is this life. I got sick during that time and my life now feels very different to how I expected it to be. I was careless should have phrased it differently but I always refer to my early 20s as a different life, especially as I don't remember much of it.
     
  12. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    So you know how it is to keep your emotions within you, and then find somewhere to express them. Sounds like there's a story somewhere in there.
     
  13. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    When I first read this post, it occurred to me that you might be young. When we are young, we lack the life experience to put difficult experiences and issues into perspective. When I was in high school, we received an assignment to write a play. I wrote one and tried to pack some of my personal experiences into it, because I thought it would resonate (and get me a good grade, besides). But I got a mediocre grade because (I had to admit later), it just wasn't very good. And the reason it wasn't very good was that I didn't have the perspective to bring all that emotion to a final conclusion.

    When we are teens, we often don't know the best way out of the emotional swamps. So, how could we possibly write a cogent story about it? My advice is two-fold: first, don't be afraid to write imperfect stories, because it will give you the ability to portray the facts of your issues (and possibly give you a key to resolving them); secondly, try to write about other things as well, subjects that are not emotionally charged for you.

    Good luck and keep writing.
     

Share This Page