Putting yourself in your writing – a small note

If you are interested in blogs on writing, you will have no doubt come across posts concerning putting yourself into your writing. Not literally of course, well unless you really want to, but in the “write what you know” sense. How much of your experience(s) should you use? Should it be a context of something you know really well? Or should you write something completely different?

For my two pennies worth, sorry two cents, I’m in the US now, I would give the flakey, sitting on the fence answer of “well it depends what you are writing“. Which it does, and also depends how good you are at constructing something new, and giving the reader enough to understand it, and the rules of the world you have created. Still, even in that context you can write in some of your experiences perhaps changing the characters or context.

Before I go on too much of a tangent, the reason I was writing this is to add some words from Bruce Springsteen in his recent interview with Rolling Stone (issue 1153 – an excerpt is here). NO come back you non Springsteen fans, this is a good writers tip. The question he was asked was regarding him having all the creature comforts, how can he still understand “the working man”. His reply was:

“We talk, we write, we think, and even as late in the day as I am, we experience so much through the veil of our formative years of life. That never goes away… I have a metaphor. I say Look, you’re in a car, your new selves can get in, but your old selves can’t get out. You can bring new vision and guidance into your life, but you can’t lose or forget who you’ve been or what you’ve seen. New people can get in, but nobody gets out… they are with you until the end of the ride, and you’re going to pass a certain amount of them on… the key is of course, who’s driving”.

Isn’t this a great tip for all writers, not just for writing songs? You have all your experiences with you. You can either choose to use them or try to invent new ones who will join you on your ride. You just have to decide who is driving.

Lexicon word of the day: erratum.

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4 comments on “Putting yourself in your writing – a small note

  1. I did a workshop with Emma Darwin last year. She sad that the “write what you know” thing is all bull…..what she advises is:

    “write what you want, but, make me, the reader, believe that you know it”

    I think that’s much better advice 🙂

    xx

    • mrbrainsplat says:

      I would agree. I think it is a much misunderstood phrase anyway, not to be took in a literal sense. I always understood it to be more the essence of “write what you understand” so that whatever context you put it in (at home, in space, hunting trolls, etc) it comes across as believable. It’s an easier starting place if you get the point, but I figure in the long run, as Emma pointed out, it is all just about learning to put across something that is believable to the reader.

  2. Jeannie says:

    What we know can enhance what we write I think, as well as what we can imagine. You know the saying, ‘where ever you go, that’s where you are’? We can’t run from who we are, and the real test is being able to impart, with words, theessence of who we are as the author within the writing without being obvious. I just read something similar to this not long ago and a famous writer (I can’t remember who…old brain!) said that’s really what the reader wants to know…kind of like, what kind of person is Stephen King, able to write those kind of stories that he does? Bruce Springsteen and the songs he writes? Who’s driving? Yes!

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