Has anyone ever told you to write what you know?
Over and over again, I've heard experienced writers say this very thing: Write what you know. When I was younger, the last thing I wanted to write about was what I knew. I wanted to imagine something new. I wanted to escape into someone else's story. But now, I realize that our personal stories are often the most powerful.
That doesn't mean that all we should write is autobiographies. In some cases, yes, we should write our personal story, exactly as it happened. But, we can also tap into our experience and allow it inspire us to write a truth that is universal, that everyone can understand. For example, I can write about a personal memory when I was bullied. This story may be ideal for a magazine article or a non-fiction story. But I can also take that emotion and turn it into an engaging fictional story. By doing this, we don't just allow our readers to identify with our own story. We allow readers to tap into their own emotional experience and share that greater truth with us.
When we write from personal experience, we are able to write with an emotion that we wouldn't otherwise have. That emotion allows our readers to experience the story with the main character in a greater way.
WRITING PROMPT: Look at old pictures of your childhood. What experiences have impacted you the most in your life? What primary emotions were tied to those experiences? Journal a little bit about those experiences and emotions. Then, think about how you can tie that emotion into a fictional story that may (or may not) resemble exactly what you experienced. Write that story from the heart.