A foundation piece of advice on how to start to write is to begin with what you know by writing your observations on everyday life. Every moment in a writer’s day offers the opportunity to explore characters, settings or plot diversions. “Use Everything” is a catchphrase amongst many writers–including my own. Regardless as to what has just happened to them–the idea is that at some point, one can integrate it into a piece of writing.
Until now, I have blithely burrowed into my past indiscriminately, picking thorough both good and bad experiences in order to breathe life into characters, plots and settings. I am fortunate to have traveled widely and have a breadth of interests which in turn allow me access to a huge cast of characters, events and situations.
Recently I experienced a traumatic event which shook me in a way I’d not expected. I’d always felt I was pretty tough, world-weary in parts, but with a hide thicker than a rhino. The past few weeks have seen me thrown into the arena of trauma counselling and endless self-analysis.
Immediately after the event, I flippantly suggested (on Facebook – where else?) that there was always a bright side and that at least I had a renewed stock of experiences on which to draw when I wrote.
As days go past, the nightmares flood what dream time I have and I wonder if I can ever use this experience. Dredging it up and reliving it seems to feed the trauma, forcing me to renew the fears and anxieties it has bred.
Obviously for legal reasons, I cannot recount it in the written form (to be fair, not that it has ever stopped a writer fictionalising an event). Certainly I agree whole heartedly that writing forms a great part of self-analysis and self-development allowing an author to explore issues in-depth; but in relative safety. I wonder though if fictionalising it will truly cover it or fully allow me to express my reactions.
Perhaps it is simply that it is still too fresh and the cracks in my tough veneer have split into visible gaps.
This whole experience has left me with a new appreciation of authors who share traumatic life experiences; from horror crashes to survivalist episodes.
Are there experiences either so raw or so close to you that you cannot or will not draw upon them in your writing?
Do you have “No Go Zones” in your writing?
Image – “Mind” from Write Anything’s Image Library.