“You make something from things that have happened and from things that exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, and you make something through your invention that is truer than anything true and alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.” Ernest Hemingway
As writers, we draw bits and pieces from real life experiences and people we know to enhance our fiction. The feel of sand between our toes, the sting of the scrape on our knee, or the taste of Grandma's fresh baked apple pie can be used to bring the reader along on the journey that is our story. Even if you haven’t had the exact experience, you’ve most likely had one that’s generated a specific feeling or emotion that can bring your story alive for the reader.
Perhaps you have inside knowledge from your job or occupation that can be entwined in your story. I’m currently using my background as a pharmacist to craft a story about the dangers of counterfeit drugs.
Whether you’ve written memoirs, have notes scribbled on bits of paper tucked away in your desk, or are a dedicated journal writer, you have a wealth of observations and descriptions that can be used in your writing. Your villain could wear the particularly odd clothes your Uncle Fred used to wear. Or your female protagonist, when under stress, could utter the same thing your mother used to say.
The free-writing spontaneity of journaling provides great fodder for ideas and may bring out other memories stored in your subconscious. Something mundane you wrote about six months ago could be perfect for your work in progress today if you add a new setting, twist, character, or dilemma.
We are all observers, interpreters, and recorders of life around us, it’s no wonder there are elements of our lives in the stories we write.