Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday Soirée - What do I write?

Another common question aspiring writers ask is, What do I write?"

The clichéd answer is “Write what you know,” and you can’t go wrong if you begin here. But this may still seem complex when you have to now consider, what you do know.

What experiences do you have under your belt? What skills and lessons did you learn from those experiences? I know, questions, questions, questions, but bear with me.

Nothing is insignificant. As ordinary as your experiences might have been, your reactions to them, the lessons and skills you walked away with, made those experiences unique, because you, with your own personality and characteristics see and experience things from a different perspective.

Let me jog your memory with these:
  • You grew up on a farm, in the city, in a commune, in an orphanage, on a bus with your parents who were musicians, an only child, the first child, the middle child or the last of a brood of twelve. I can only imagine the stories you could tell. Tell them.
  • You worked in a sweat shop with your mother until a fire destroyed the building. Write about how you survived the period until she found a more stable job with more humane treatment and working conditions.
  • You hated school. Write about your excuses to stay away, your adventures playing hooky or how you learned to love school after you were found out and punished.
  • Do you have any “boss from hell” stories? Tell them. Rant and rave if you must. Write.
  • First love, forbidden love, lost love – bare your heart with these.
  • Who did you travel with on your first trip overseas? Or did you go alone? Write about the journey, the country, the hotel, the people, the food, etc.
  • What jobs have you held - a dead-end job, a dream job, a time-consuming job, a job that stifled your creativity, strangled your dream or depleted you emotionally, mentally and physically?

Explore and exploit the skills and lessons you learned from your experiences. Starting with your experiences and what you gleaned from them allows you to write without pressure to be right, to be perfect or to compare or conform to another writer's work.

Choose one item from your list and begin writing. Just write. You can edit later, if you wish. You’re writing for yourself first, simply to begin the process and develop the habit.

Remember that you are welcome to share your thoughts and ask questions.

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