There’s nothing more crippling to a writer than being creatively stuck and struggling to put words on the blank page. While this could be caused by a combination of factors, sometimes it’s a result of our eagerness to write about something beyond our knowledge and area of expertise. For this reason, writers are frequently advised to start writing from a place of comfort and familiarity. In fact, most of the stories we see come alive in books, films, and TV shows are rooted in their creators’ life experiences or memories whether it be drama, epic, or science fiction.
Breaking into the entertainment industry as a writer seems like a daunting endeavor due to the fierce competition, countless rejections, and frequent creative blocks one has to go through. But many industry experts say that your greatest asset is within you and the way to stand out as an emerging writer boil down to writing stories that you have lived yourself or deeply connect with. Let’s examine how the concept of writing what you know can gain the attention of industry professionals and how you can sell it in the competitive market.
Writing What You Know
Writing what you know is simply using your personal life experiences and incorporating them into your craft to create authentic and relatable stories. While research is a key component of any piece of writing, people who have lived through the subject matter at hand give them the advantage to share important details, knowledge, and life experiences the way it exactly happens in reality ― making it more credible and powerful.
However, writing what you know is not your typical day-to-day journaling because it still requires applying basic storytelling structure as well as putting a creative and distinctive spin to it. While it may seem like telling stories that fall outside our reality such as sci-fi or fantasy is an impossible feat for an emerging writer, there are ways to write these stories that would make them human, relatable, and relevant.
The most basic of all is looking within ourselves and recalling moments in our life that have been instrumental. Reflecting on our lived experiences such as heartbreaks, challenges, achievements, and even memories of our childhood, could aid in our creative process and inspire us to craft fictional but relatable stories and characters around the people we know, places we’ve been to, and events that shaped us.
On the other hand, focusing on universal human emotions and putting yourself in your character’s shoes would help you establish a deeper connection with your story. If you have felt immense grief or happiness at a certain point in your life, you can use those emotions to humanize your characters whether they may be wizards, robots, or extra-terrestrial beings. Furthermore, as you’re building your character’s persona, we should try to walk in their shoes to know their motivations or how they would react to certain situations, in a similar way that we do in real life. By doing so, the audience will be able to empathize more with their struggles or circumstances because it is a familiar feeling that hits close to home.
“Here’s the thing about fiction: the only certain thing is that there is nothing certain. In any moment, you may find yourself on an unknown path in the middle of nowhere, knowing that the only way out is the way you’ll create for yourself,” via The Writing Cooperative.
A storyteller who puts one’s self and unique experiences into their art increases their chances of getting support and recognition
Although there are no guarantees in life, a storyteller who puts one’s self and unique experiences into their art increases their chances of getting support and recognition from the audience. As storytellers, it is essential that we embark on many adventures and immerse ourselves in the richness of life to learn more about different perspectives, cultures, and individualities, and gain more diverse experiences that will absolutely give life to the stories we tell and make it stand out in a sea of content. Nowadays, the entertainment industry is specifically investing in stories that celebrate underrepresented groups and independent filmmakers who capture the beauty of our everyday life.
Furthermore, this is proof that it’s extremely important to give opportunities and put the power into the hands of storytellers, especially minorities, to authentically tell their own stories about their race, culture, people, and experiences ― giving them the honor and justice that they rightfully deserve all these years.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.