Inspire Your Writing Using Negative Life Experiences
Why Do You Write?
I have seen that question asked so many times now that I want to projectile-vomit. And of course the two most popular answers to that question are that we write because we have a love of writing or we have a passion for writing.
Well not me! I did not begin writing because I had a passion for the written word, and quite frankly I hated writing when I was a kid. I would much rather be throwing a knuckleball to a batter sitting on a fastball than writing 1000 words on the history of Ancient Greece or expounding on the human tradition.
And yet here I sit, a professional freelance writer and novelist, so obviously something fueled my writing at the beginning until the day finally arrived when I actually loved the craft.
And that something was an addictive personality fueled by negative life experiences.
I have written often about my battles with alcoholism and my escape from near-death seven years ago, so there is no reason to revisit that expose. It is important, though, in understanding why I finally turned to writing and why I have attacked this profession with the gusto of a philharmonic orchestra leader on qualudes.
Simply stated, I needed an outlet for all of the angst that was bottled up inside of me, and writing provided that outlet. Early on, the computer was my own personal battlefield where daily I would participate in a struggle of past vs present. I was a modern day Greek tragedy with a Pollyanna ending, and writing provided the healthy drug that allowed me to function in this new, strange, foreign land.
And it can do the same for you! Using pain, hatred, fear and frustration to fuel your writing is a perfectly logical and cleansing approach and one that can be quite cathartic. As an added bonus, using personal experiences and feelings are a great way of connecting with readers because trust me, most readers have shared similar experiences and emotions.
Here are some ways you can turn the negatives of life into productive writing.
DON’T KILL THEM; WRITE ABOUT IT
I am reminded of the bestselling author Sue Grafton. She has often told the story of how she gained inspiration for her popular alphabet series. It all began when she was embroiled in a nasty divorce, and she would daydream about ways she could kill her husband. Rather than actually following through on those fantasies, she took them and used them as inspiration for a series of murder mysteries….and fame followed.
Have you had similar feelings in your lifetime? They tell me that serving time in prison is no fun, so rather than committing a destructive act that will have you sharing a cell with Bubba the Killer, use your destructive emotions and let them be the gasoline on your writing fire.
INDIGNATION IS RIGHTEOUS
Look around and you’ll see many examples of writers who have used their indignation to create excellent writing. The world of political writers is filled with indignation. Maybe you are feeling angry over the abuse being done to the environment; maybe child prostitution raises your blood pressure, or maybe animal cruelty; whatever it is, use it!
Writing to heal
A must for serious writers
MY WOUND IS YOUR WOUND
Have you been painfully dumped by a boyfriend? Have you been bullied? Have you been abused? Do you know the pain of ridicule? Is it a festering wound that knows no comfort? Write about it and I guarantee others will relate to it and appreciate your candor….and as a bonus you just might find some relief.
REVENGE IS SWEET
Have you ever been told that you will never amount to anything? Maybe someone told you that you will never be a good writer?
I have a friend in Alcoholics Anonymous who has now been sober for twenty-five years. She was told early on that she would never stay sober because of her attitude. She set out to prove that person wrong and twenty-five years later she is still sober out of revenge.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t write. Prove them wrong!
WRITE AS A WAY OF HANDLING FEAR OR TRAUMA
Another of my friends grew up with epilepsy. He writes today about the fear he lived through, never knowing as a child when the next seizure would strike him, and by writing about that he not only helps others with epilepsy but helps himself as well.
One of my earliest attempts at writing happened after my father died when I was twenty. I was having a recurring nightmare where I was falling down a deep, dark tunnel and I would wake up in the mornings covered with sweat and shaking. I wrote a short story about a child overcoming a fear of the dark, and it helped me in dealing with the loss of my father.
STAMP OUT SOCIAL INJUSTICE
Writers can make a difference. I firmly believe that and it is the impetus for my “Moment With Bill Reflection” articles.
I write about sex trafficking and homelessness and greed and abuse, not because I enjoy the dark side of life, but because I take seriously my responsibility as a human being. I also write about these topics because I am sick and tired of complacency and apathy in society today. If my written words can raise awareness and in some way bring about change then it is all worth it to me, and perhaps you will find it worthwhile as well.
ARE YOU UPSET ABOUT SOMETHING THAT JUST HAPPENED? WRITE ABOUT IT!
In my hometown of Olympia, Washington, a homeless man was recently beaten by a group of four teens. They found him sleeping under a tree and proceeded to punch and kick him almost to death. They were caught shortly after the beating and one of them said it just seemed like a fun way to pass some time.
What the hell is wrong with humanity today? How can senseless violence like that occur? Those are the questions that were rattling around in my brain as I sat down and started writing a short story based on that incident.
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Have you used negative experiences to fuel your writing in the past?
Use It All to Your Advantage As a Writer
Whatever it takes my friends. Toss accelerant on your personal fires and let them blaze out of control in your writing. Fan the flames with hatred, fear or indignation and write your bestseller. Plumb the depths of your emotions and let them work for you in a contest-winning short story.
Writing is a connection between writer and reader, two human beings comprised of similar emotions and lifetime events. To ignore that fact is to lay waste to a gift that has been given to you. Use your emotions as motivation. Use your emotions as a writing theme. You just might be surprised how many out there can totally relate to your writing because of similar emotions.
Why do you write? I write because I’m hooked on it, baby. Writing is my drug of choice these days; it flows through my veins and gives me a high unlike any I have ever experienced, and each time I take my drug I share it online with all you other literature drug addicts.
And how cool is that?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”