Some of the best stories I’ve written started out as fictional retellings of things that had actually happened to me.
Stories morph over time, of course, and what starts out as a close reflection of your reality usually transforms into something a lot more … dramatic.
But writing things that hit close to home makes the whole process different somehow. It’s so much easier to insert yourself into that world, to think about the things your characters are thinking about. To feel what they are feeling, and convey those feelings with nothing but words.
For the longest time, I thought putting my characters through familiar (to me) situations was somehow bad or self-centered. Just because I went through it didn’t mean other readers would care (so I thought) and I was so far deep in some of these things that I couldn’t even comprehend what the outside perspective might be on any of it.
It turns out — no, my 13-year-old brain probably did not realize this — you’re not the only one who has ever been through something.
This is actually good because:
- People like to read stories they can relate to, and
- It’s easier for people to relate to stories written by people who “get it.”
If you’re worried about people thinking you’re somehow self-absorbed for writing about stuff you “get,” don’t be. It’s very possible those people don’t “get it” and never will.
Write about what you want to write about! Either people will latch onto it at some point or they won’t. Honestly, that part isn’t really under your control. It’s not always easy to find an audience. Many times, they sort of just find you.
Why? Because there’s something about your writing that draws them in and keeps them coming back. That’s not a bad thing.
This isn’t just the case for fiction, I suppose. Many of the blog post ideas that prance around in my brain are born from real-life experiences, many of them current. It’s still a challenge, sometimes, to paint each post as a picture the majority of people that click on it can relate to.
Writing always starts with you, and eventually branches out to include others. We can’t ever be afraid to let our real lives influence our words. What better way to write from the heart, from the soul, than to write about things that matter to us because we’ve been through them ourselves?
You’re not selfish or anything for doing that. In fact, you’re doing what I think many aspiring writers are probably afraid to do. And that makes you pretty awesome.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.