Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we discuss five ways to find yourself in your story.
Finding yourself in your story
So often, as writers, we say that we’re looking for stories. The truth, I’m starting to discover, is that the stories are already inside us. We’re just looking in the wrong place.
The plots may be outrageous, the characters different to who we are—but our emotional lives fill the heartbeat of just about everything we write. We just have listen to the heartbeat and get it down on the page. This doesn’t mean that we write autobiography or memoir.
Recently, I wrote a story about two lovers on a road trip to the seaside to escape the constraints of the city and their own arrested lives. Now, I don’t particularly like road trips—but I was infused with the characters need for freedom. I identified with their backstory, because, when I looked at it, it mirrored the crisis I faced ten years ago—it came out in these two extreme characters. The story found me, and not the other way around.
I also wrote in the first person from the female protagonist’s perspective, but her voice was my voice—she believed the same things I did, she had the same sense of sadness, the same need for adventure. I really didn’t have to make her up. She came to me. The reason I share this is because I believe that when we show up on the page—with honesty, vulnerability, a certain kind of fearlessness—our writing becomes stronger, vibrant, and authentic.
5 Ways To Find Yourself In Your Story
Five tips to help you use your own life experiences in your fiction:
- Keep a journal. Pay attention to your emotions, to your fears, dreams, and little excitements.
- Listen to music. An old song on the radio spark memories and they come through like an uninterrupted flashback.
- Free write. The uncensored doodling and gushing often reveal an insight you may have overlooked or dismissed.
- Revisit favourite places. Driving down to the coast, or going back to an old house, may trigger emotions.
- Reveal your truth. With time, comes clarity. Now is your chance to say something powerful about the human condition through your characters and your story.