Do you write from personal experience? Or you rather get lost in imaginary worlds and alternate realities, full of superheroes and alien creatures?

Our imaginations are endless and should be exploited creatively as much as possible. And yet, the number one writing advice says: ‘Write what you know’. Does this suggest that only war veterans can write about wars, or that Jules Verne really went around the world in 80 days?

Honestly, I used to hate this epic instruction. It somehow suggested that everything anyone writes is utterly personal and resembles the writer’s soul. Which simply isn’t true.

raw, nakedness, exposure

Photo by robin robokow

Obviously, you don’t want to be identified with the evil protagonist of your story. On top of that, you probably dislike having your readers assume they know you, just because they believe they’ve peeped inside your head and body.

Bring Out The Personal

However, the more I write and share what I’ve written, the more feedback I get that brings me to the conclusion that personal is always the best.

So, no matter if you’ve developed a great fictional concept or done your research, it will never measure up to writing that comes from the heart. The bleeding wins, Hemingway would say.

Therefore, why not try and expose yourself by sharing what you’ve deeply experienced. Write about what makes you tremble and then describe the trembling. Write about how you see the world, what you believe in. Write about hurt and pain, love and sadness.

Write about your dreams and why you have them. Write about the past and the present. Write about how you imagine the future. Write about your hopes and longings. Write about long, sleepless nights, and short, unlived days.

The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

Neil Gaiman

Make The Leap

Write naked. The raw can be a million times more powerful than the best polish. Do you know why? Because truth shines.  It can’t be beaten by invention. Just forget any inhibitions, and share the truth. Your truth. It’s quite scary, and absolutely worth it.

Marcel Proust started writing his legendary series In Search of Lost Time only after his parents died. Julian Barnes says he had to imagine his parents dead when he started pursuing writing.

Just don’t be afraid. Because if you can’t even write about your own truth, how can you expect to truthfully write about another’s?

PRACTICE

For fifteen minutes, write about a very intimate, personal experience that you’ve never shared before. It doesn’t need to be spectacular; only to read from the heart. If you want, share it in the comments. Otherwise, it’s yours to keep.

As usual, be supportive of others’ by giving them your valuable feedback.

Sophie Novak
Sophie Novak
Sophie Novak is an ultimate daydreamer and curious soul, who can be found either translating or reading at any time of day.
She originally comes from the sunny heart of the Balkans, Macedonia, and currently lives in the UK. You can follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.