Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG: Inspiration via personal experiences versus imaginative

One of the first pieces of advice I had ever gotten was 'write what you know.' I'm sure many of you guys have probably gotten the same advice yourself. It's good advice to a certain extent, but it can also be very limiting to your potential.
 
Starting out, 'write what you know' is legitatmite advice. Grounding yourself in reality and developing your eye (how you see the world) is critical in improving your craft. By training yourself to be present in your surroundings, you're able to be create visceral scenes through the use of words.
 
But if you only limit yourself to reconstructing reality, you will limit yourself by containing your creativity. So what to do? Well, with your developed eye and a dash of imagination, you can then train yourself to be present in your mind. And if there's something you don't know, you do research until you become knowledgeable. Thus, reality acts as a springboard for something else.
 
That's not to say that reality and writing what you know is not imaginative. With a unique perspective, sometimes the most imaginative things can be right in front of you.
 
To quote Shakespeare in Hamlet, 'Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.' I like to think of writing what you know and writing what you don't know as a method for madness.
 
When inspiration strikes, via reality or in your own imagination, that is considered madness, and only when you apply a method to it can it be translated across the page. If you don't like that saying, then perhaps bringing chaos to order will resonate with you.
 
I am writing this post merely as an observation of my own experience with what I've written. When I started with M1, I stuck to reality, contemporary if you will. I didn't finish it. I got bored. Then I was hit with inspiration of another realm, and I wrote M2, and I'm still in love with that story. It challenged me creatively, and that's when I realized it's okay not to write what you know, because it's the process of figuring it out and learning your way through that makes the journey worthwhile and exciting.
 
Now I'm writing M3, going back to contemporary. This time, however, it's loosley inspired by my time in high school and the people I've known throughout the years. But it's also an issues book on body dysmorphia and self-worth, something that I struggled with a lot in my college years and something my main protagonist will go through in the span of a year. In a lot of ways, M3 is harder than writing M2 because I'm writing through personal experiences rather than imaginative inspiration.
 
I've been rereading a lot of my old journals, which really makes me shy away from writing sometimes because somehow I feel myself transplanted right back to my adolescent years. Not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. All I know is, M3 will definitely be more of a struggle to finish, but somehow I think I'll get a lot of meaning out of it.
 
How about you? Where does your inspiration come from your current WIP?
 

This post was in participation of ISWG. Thanks to

14 comments:

  1. If we only wrote what we knew, then we'd all only be writing memoirs! Writing something influenced by our past can be scary and therapeutic at the same time, but I think it's important to look at the piece as a work of fiction so that it can develop on its own. If you're too attached to it, it may be hard to change things.

    February IWSG Co-host

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    1. That's a great way to think of it Sarah, thanks!

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  2. What's funny is that I always write what I know, but then again I tend to have a sixth sense when it comes to some things without doing research. Oh, but I still writing about things I don't know about and have to do a ton of research. ;)

    Most of my ideas come from my dreams so a lot of imagination is involved. :)

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    1. I wish I had a better sixth sense ;) That's so cool you get a lot of inspiration through dreams. I wish I could remember mine better.

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  3. Shakespeare is a genius! :) Even in the midst of wild fantasy, drawing on something personal can make a scene quite powerful and grounded for people. I like to think that's what the advice ultimately means. Even if we don't know what it's like to climb a mountain, we know what it's like to be imtimdated or reckless or brave or insanely frightened, and we can always draw on those emotions to fuel those scenes.

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    1. Well said. I think you've just distilled the essence of my post very eloquoently!

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  4. Inspiration for my current project--well, I think Nicole, my modern protagonist, is sort of write what you know for me--we're the same age, we're from the same place, and we share a few interests. Victoria is more from research and my interests and love of historical fiction and costume dramas. But even there, there are parts of her story that are things I've been through that are twisted into her situation.

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    1. I like that. A mix of what shapes a writer is translated into not just one but multiple characters, just as we individuals have different facets in our personality and interests.

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  5. "Write what you know" is good advice, which is why I'm always trying to learn new things so that I may write about them :)

    I also have a hard time going through my old journals. I have a box full of 'em that I keep meaning to re-read, but, alas, just don't want to relive certain portions of my life. I'm having too much fun now to think about the lack of fun I had in high school, I suppose!

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    1. Haha yes, I'm the same way. Some things I'd rather not relieve :P

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  6. I tend to get a lot of ideas from dreams. I know that sounds strange, but my dreams are always very movie-esq with drama and mystery. Other times, I have no idea where my inspiration comes from. Usually a "What if" thought will pop into my head and I can spend hours just chasing that until I think that there might be something in that!

    I've never written what I know because I don't think I know an awful lot, and what I do know isn't exciting enough to read!

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    1. Oh so jealous of you dreamers! I need more inspiration via that way. Most of my thoughts come from car rides.

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  7. First, congrats on that tough decision to write about your struggles. That will add a real special element to your Ms3.
    I've never really written what I know. I tend to make things up in worlds that are way different from ours. It makes it easier to come up with my own rules, life styles, odd happenings, etc.

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    1. Thanks Karla, that means a lot! I think it's great you have that ability to create anew. I wish I could be more like that!

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