Thursday, June 19, 2014

Write What You Feel (and more)

You know that old saying, "Write what you know?" If you're interested in writing, and the fact that you're reading this blog suggests that you are, then the answer is probably "yes."

You've probably also heard multiple remarks about the saying, some funny and others not so funny. If not, I'll give an example and let you decide if it's funny or not.

"Hey Scott. Why do you write these weird stories?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know, like this one about alien cat people who use their advanced technology to invade our timeline, starting the zombie war decades before it originally happened in 2032?"
"Oh. Well like they say, 'write what you know.'"

I know. You saw that coming a mile away. That's the advanced time technology at work.

Here's the thing. "Write what you know," doesn't mean only write what you're familiar with. Otherwise, we'd never have stories about a police box that's bigger on the inside, carrying an alien with two hearts across time and space. And you know what? That'd be a shame.

Write what you know means write what you feel.

Here's some examples. Do you know the elation you feel when you see your child for the first time? Can you recall a time when your heart was torn in two by the loss of a loved one? How about the bone chilling terror of someone sticking a gun in your face and demanding your money?

Write about that. AND HERE'S THE BEST PART! You don't have to write about a newborn child anymore than you have to write about a robbery or anything else from your life. You can, but you don't have to.

Take the joy of the newborn child and use those real emotions to describe the happiness of a long awaited reunion. Take that loss of a loved one, and draw on those feelings when your character looses her job. Take the terror of the mugging and show the fear of dangling over the edge of a cliff.

Write what you feel. Sometimes, even write about what made you feel that way.

I'll add this to it. Write what you feel like writing about. That'll carry you through 90% of your writing duties. Yes, I made that statistic up on the spot, but it feels right, doesn't it? Sometimes, you have to push through as a writer and finish projects (or start them. Or continue them.) However, most of the time, your passions can carry you through the work.

Another example. I wrote a long outline for a story last night. It's a good outline of a story that I've wanted to tell for a few months now, but couldn't figure out what really happened. Now I know. But guess what? It's still not ready. I could have started it, but I didn't want to. Something else was on my mind. That's okay. It'll wait.

Instead, I finished and submitted another story, which I'd also put aside temporarily. And, like my last blog entry, I made progress.

Take those feelings-- the grief, the triumph, the hope and the despair. Which one, or ones do you want to write about? Which idea has you jumping up and down inside? When possible, write about where those passions are. And always, write what you feel.