Jump to content

Does Your Personal Life Shape Your Writing?


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

Does your personal life shape your writing?

 

You betcha! I know, I don't write fiction. I'm always the oddball. I certainly hope my life shapes my devotionals and inspirational stories. AND...the other way around!

 

Okay. Back to the topic.

 

image.png.d068d4194a57815c357a02668af638ce.png

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

Well, they create their own worlds, distant from our own, and they think that their characters have to have motivations that are not their own.  Does that make sense?

Sure, it makes sense, but I disagree with them still. They create their own worlds, but they still have to be the ones creating them. Their mind, their hands, have to make the worlds and the characters. Their personal life has, in some sense, shaped their personalities and their minds, and those same personalities and minds are shaping their fantasy world and unique characters. You can see parents in their children--works the same with the children of your mind. They're not your clones, but they are influenced by you and your personal life, whether they're a human in Orlando, FL, or a pfifltrigg on Malcandra.

 

I hope that made sense. 🙂

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

   In my novel "A Gatored Community", I've seen that the main character named Ted MacKenzie, a man who operates an oyster farm that produces cultured pearls, does seem to be a lot like me.

   There are major differences.  To begin with, I do not own a pearl farm, and never go near the water.  I am also not at all wealthy.  My entire income consists of monthly Social Security Retirement payments, and EBT payments.  I also live in Government subsidized housing.  However, with all the additional Government stimulant payments that I've been receiving recently, I am no longer living on the edge.  I'm not anywhere near wealthy.  I'm now living in modest comfort, for which I thank the Lord.

    As for similarities between myself and my fictional character, I think it's in our personalities.

      

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd have to say that my personal life absolutely influences my writing.  And not just what I experience myself, but what I read, what I watch, what I play, and even what I research for my stories.

 

1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

Well, they create their own worlds, distant from our own, and they think that their characters have to have motivations that are not their own.  Does that make sense?

 

I agree with Emily - I get where your fantasy writer friends are coming from @suspensewriter, but without our personal experiences, what does our imagination have to build on?  Even if you create a world totally unlike ours, perhaps even with different laws of physics and gravity, you're still building that world based on knowledge from our world.

 

And sure our characters are going to have different motivations than we do - their motivations are based on the world they're in and the history we give them, but again, I'd venture to say that these motivations aren't so foreign as we writers might want to believe.  As Ninja just said, we write what we know - how can we write totally different motivations if we haven't encountered them ourselves?  In different forms and flavors, perhaps, but still the same root, I daresay.

 

Whelp, there's my two (or twenty) cents.

 

🤠

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not always the same bit, but I can usually see something of me or something of my past in almost everything I write. After all, it is my mind that is creating the characters, and it only has what I have experiences (or read about. Maybe that's the difference.)

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say yes.  At least in the project I've been working on. My MC, Joanna Blackwell, is basically me, or what would be me if I came from a richer but rougher background.  I think that, along the way, most if not all my of main protagonists have been a lot like me.  I can't seem to help it.  But I've also been trying to change that.  I don't want to always end up writing essentially the same thing.

 

My life definitely shaped my current novel though, as I was saying before I bunny trailed.  My relationship with my father, my frustrations and insecurities, my annoyance with my extended family, to name but a few parallels between my book and my life.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Does your personal life shape your writing?

 

yes.gif.a56d8aa636bc3c9f5d54e3655368988b.gif

 

An obvious YES. I think it's true for all writers. Our experiences, interests, dreams, or even defiance to something we really don't like constantly shapes our writing.    

Edited by Accord64
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, mine certainly is. While I don’t necessarily model characters after myself, or base plots closely on personal experiences, if I wasn’t the person I am, living the life I live,  I’d write very differently.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I  think in my case, my personal life shapes my writing. Like some, I have allowed my past experiences--negative and hurtful--to shape my writing. However, sometimes this works out well because I know exactly those feelings and I can apply that to my writing. So yes, this is so true! Just thinking about this is helping; working on a new story angle. Thanks a bunch, suspensewriter!

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

About 20 years ago, we were disabled and flat broke, hubby had to go on chemo, and we received our foreclosure. Hubby would get chemo no matter what, but how would we live? In our car, (our Bibles and four stuffed animals included), in our local FDR Park, behind a couple of rows of trees in the southwest corner, in hopes the cops wouldn't find us and kick us out of the park too. God showed me how to avoid the foreclosure. (Government plan that pays the mortgage until people get back on their feet, and then we paid it back like a second mortgage.)

 

The fantasy I'm writing -- All stuffies are tossed because of a new law and end up hiding in a huge clearing behind some trees in the southwest corner of FDR Park. (I didn't realize that line of trees that I saw in real life, was more than a small row of trees, until I start researching for the story. It's much bigger than I thought. The difference between a floor in a single-family's house, and a football stadium.)

So, nah. Not related at all. 😊

(BTW, we're back up to middleclass, for the third time since we've been married. And our house is completely paid off. All accomplished by God.)

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes in two ways.

 

If life is very busy or I am struggling then writing can take a dip. On the other hand if I am OK and have space to write I do and it can be very productive.

 

The second way is whilst like others I do not base characters on myself or take incidents from my life directly on to the page, I do find myself tapping in to my own emotions to help me get into the head of my character in a given situation - particularly those I have experienced myself.  

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Accord64 said:

An obvious YES. I think it's true for all writers. Our experiences, interests, dreams, or even defiance to something we really don't like constantly shapes our writing.   

 

That's interesting, @Accord64.  That's the first time I have ever heard defiance included in there.  Something to think about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

That's the first time I have ever heard defiance included in there.  Something to think about.

 

Something I've notice more as of late (due to our current contentious social climate), but it's always been there to some degree in the past. I've even used it as an underlying message, or a quick (humorous) jab at some silly church (or cultural) tradition.  

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Accord64 said:

Something I've notice more as of late (due to our current contentious social climate), but it's always been there to some degree in the past. I've even used it as an underlying message, or a quick (humorous) jab at some silly church (or cultural) tradition.

 

That's really true, @Accord64.  It really does seem to be on the increase due to our current contentious climate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I think it does, but at the same time it exists on a spectrum; you can have various degrees of influence from your own life. However, this doesn't mean it can't wildly diverge.

I would say the two traps you can fall into with this is different levels of pigeonholing yourself. On the one level, if you go too far into the "let your personal life influence your writing" end, you'll only end up writing characters like you, in situations you've experienced. And unless you're someone like forensic anthropologist Dr. Kathy Reichs (the tv show Bones was loosely based off of her books, which are loosely based off of her life) where your life is naturally interesting, you've got a pretty large hill to get over. As scifi author Joe Haldeman puts it:

Quote

“Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW", a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.”

Indeed, there are a handful of literary writers who write the same book over and over, because all they write is autobiographic.

The other way you could pigeonhole yourself is in a more negative, exclusionary sense. By saying "Since I am not X, I cannot write X." Whether it's race or sex or whatever, it's incredibly limiting, and basically prioritizing experiential knowledge to such a degree that everything else is useless. It also gets really weird when people try to apply the race/ethnicity thing to past cultures (I am highly skeptical that an Indian-American's experience in America in the 21st century has that much insight on what it was like to live in, say, the Mauryan Empire). In general, readers connect to characters who have similar yearnings or internal struggles that we can relate to, not whether they look like us to an extent; and many of these yearnings and longings, though they can be transformed by the prisms of culture and setting, are at their core universal.

But in lesser senses, yes. My experience shapes my writing, mostly in what I'm interested in. Issues concerning masculinity and femininity, for example. Or my interest in religions and mythology showing up as me focusing on religion in my settings. However, I've got no idea where the predilection for monster protagonists comes in. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.