When writing we consciously put to use a lot of the things we have discovered, experienced, or witnessed. Our beliefs, our opinions, and even our ‘truths’ all become useful tools for writing. Whether you are writing a poem, nonfiction, or a fantasy novel the things inside your mind should be utilized as frequently as possible.
Not all reality is useful. Unfortunately, there is a lot of reality that is completely drab; lifeless examples which should be avoided at all costs. However the memories you hold have a unique way of taking on a life of their own. They can change, become distorted, or influenced by what others ‘remember’.
Believe it or not, the mood you are in one moment recalling a memory will take on different appearances mentally and when recalled under a different mood days, weeks, or months later will have a different feel to it.
So why is this all important for a writer?
Your readers need to be able to connect to your book. Just because your novel is based on a far off world where parasites the size of cats suck on the body, which is more similar to that of a crocodile doesn’t mean your readers aren’t capable of connecting to the book. Your protagonist can experience similar ‘memories’ so why not use something from your past.
For example, let’s say you remember riding a bike and running into the back of a semi-truck and gashing your forehead. Now today you may recall your brother was pushing you, laughing and having fun; all in good fun. You can use this. Maybe later down the road…whether it’s the same book or different, you again think back to that event. This time you are kinda in a blah mood, or maybe a pissy mood because you stumped your baby toe and you’re in pain but you know you have to sit down and write those ten pages for the day. Well, today you remember that same event but you ‘recall’ how your brother was being an ass and was pushing you faster and faster and you were scared and screaming out him to stop. And he keeps pushing you until ….you crash into the truck.
These memories aren’t ‘false’, they are distorted. Your mother may have told you one memory occurred this way but your father told you a different tale. It doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Hell, does it even matter? Maybe it does, who knows.
The fact of the matter is you have a wealth of experiences. Use them. And when they change don’t go all apeshit over the book you published last year or the short story you wrote last week since it was wrote under entirely different thought-processing. Use the new memory and create a different story. This is the beauty of our minds, of our memories, and of the ability to craft a bazillion new stories, songs, poems every single day.
Yes, there are seven basic plots but there are an unlimited supply of experiences, memories, and characters to add to those plots. Have fun with it. Trust your mind to give you what you need to know. Sure, sometimes you’ll have to push through the writing because nothing wants to work right but that’s okay. Sometimes it is okay to write crap. As long as you write! Because one of those sentences or paragraphs are going to end up being brilliant. And when you get that…you can build upon it.