17 February 2012

Writing Real Life

One of the writing guidelines that is often quoted is, 'write what you know.'  On this line of thought I had an article published a couple of years ago on using what you know as your starting point, rather than feeling restricted by it.

People often wonder how much of real life gets included in writing. The trouble is real life often tends to be mundane, and an incident that is funny/strange/ coincidental at the time it happens, isn't necessarily the stuff of novels.

I start my day early, as that's a good time for me to write. One morning a couple of days ago, having reached a point where I could put aside what I'd done to move onto something else, I decided to go out to do a few jobs before starting on the next writing task. Because I hadn't noticed the time (or weather), I found myself stuck in the morning rush hour traffic (an interesting term as the traffic certainly doesn't rush anywhere), as the rain poured down.   Nothing much happened.  I completed my jobs, muttered about not going out at that time again, and went home to carry on with work.  Mid-afternoon I glanced up from my laptop, as it was almost dark enough to need a light on, and saw what I thought was a mini tornado forming; it turned out to be a water funnel.  I stood out on the deck (veranda) for about ten minutes watching the clouds churn and move around, while all around me was eerily still.  I'm happy to say it didn't cause any damage, but it was amazing to watch.

And what is the point of the paragraph above, I hear you say?  It wouldn't make for a gripping novel or film.  I agree, left as real life it wouldn't be a page turner.

Writing gives us the ability to pursue a what-if.  It offers the opportunity to change the everyday, improve it, or make it worse.  We can dispense with the routine, and strike out into the unknown.  Or maybe just try and make sense of life?

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