Writing Tips – How To Harness Personal Experiences

I’ll bet when Proust was dipping his pastries in his tea that morning the last thing he expected was his whole life to flash before his eyes.

Yet this goes to show just how many memories there are in each of us, a vast tidal wave of experience that could break at any time and flood back into our present consciousness. These memories – these stories – are what give us the power to write realistically and evocatively. The key is learning how to harness them.  

YESTERDAY…

All your troubles seemed so far away. And not just your troubles either. Memory is like that: how are you supposed to recapture events or conversations that now exist only in the murky depths of your mind? I don’t know about you, but my memory is hopeless. I find it hard to remember what I was doing last week, let alone last year (and unfortunately this has nothing to do with alcohol). But my memory, or more precisely my history, is the foundation of who I am. When Wordsworth said that the child was the father of the man, he was emphasising that the sum of your past experience, including your childhood, is what makes you uniquely you.

KEEPING TRACK

I compensate for my fuzzy mind by keeping diaries. They’re nothing special. Most entries are random observations from events or meetings rather than detailed accounts of treasured moments. These scraps of text only mention the odd scent, like Charlie Red on a date, or a tune, like ‘Abide With Me’ from a funeral. But I don’t need any more than that to remember the event. The senses are the key to unlocking your memories. How many times has a taste or smell dragged you back to a precise moment in your past, often so unexpectedly that you have to gasp for breath? Powerful fiction is based on thoughtful use of all of the senses and the emotional memories they evoke.

MEMORY TRANSPLANTS

These sudden, immensely powerful flashbacks are an essential part of writing, and can be miracle cures for a text that is lacking in emotional or descriptive depth. Of course a piece of writing that only features your memories is autobiography, and won’t always interest a reader, but they will enable you to paint a much more vivid picture of your characters and their setting.  

Your memories enable to you to construct an image that is unique to you, that resonates with your own history, even if ostensibly the plot you’re working on seems a million miles away. This attention to detail, this engagement with elements from your past, can be transplanted from your mind to that of your characters, creating a much stronger illusion of real people. Incorporating the memorable sights, smells, tastes, sounds and touches that mean so much to you will create a tangible atmosphere in your work, one that might feel like a real memory to everybody that reads it, as well as to you. Building memories into writing is a key to writing powerfully, it is why something that isn’t real can have the strength of something that is.

LOOKING BACK

It’s always fascinating to look at what the mind remembers when asked to do so spontaneously. What about your five senses: which seems most important? Visual, most likely, but what other sensory reminders come into play? And how do you express your emotional experience of an event? Look for the strings of associations in your mind that help memories flood back to the present. When they do, make notes, capture the salient details, and allow your mind to follow along the path the memories lead: where were you, what were you doing, how were you feeling? Expand and write a little about yourself and the people you knew back then. What’s changed? These ‘oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that!’ moments are the details that can be inserted into your work to make it that much more convincing.  

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A Circle of Writers

My muse is still having a hard time coming back, but I have more time on my hands now. At least, I can put more effort into it, because I have the time to think.

I joined MyWritersCircle.com today. It’s a forum for writers of any kind, loyal to any genre, both newbies and veterans. I feel homey already.

I look forward to read people’s pieces and leave reviews through the whole week. Perhaps my muse will get the inspiration it needs to come back.

Fandom for now, just fandom

Happy New Year! I hope you all could spend a wonderful Christmas week, and a super-exciting Year Eve. 2011 is here, with all the hopes, wishes and projects we entrust in its hands. Let’s hope we get all of them fulfilled by the end of the year.

My December 2010 wasn’t a very productive month, in terms of writing muses. I haven’t worked on my short-stories, nor on my novel, as I have been more focused on certain fandoms I’m addicted to. Evangelion and Transformers, for the most. I have resumed a few fandom related works, mangas and illustrated novels, and I’m still on the high wave with them. I will probably get back to work on my original novel/short stories by the end of March.

If you are interested in following the development of my fanfiction/fanmanga works, you may do so at the following websites:

Eva Brothers (my Evangelion AU):
~ http://evabrothers.com
~ http://evabrothers.com/mb/ (the forum)

Robocity World (my Transformers AU):
~ http://robocityworld.net
~ http://mb.robocityworld.net (the forum)