Writing from experience

All writing is somewhat autobiographical, whether we’re aware of it at the time of creation or not. Snippets and tippets of our life experiences seep into sentences, be it a memory, something we’ve read, a conversation overheard, or a mish-mash of all of the above. We may write ‘real’ with intent or without, but undoubtedly what we’ve encountered in life will affect what it is that we write.


I usually write fiction without overtly intending my characters or scenarios to be reflective of my own personal ‘real-life’, in that I aim not to write characters identifiable as anyone I know, or to have a situation occur where readers might link it to something which has happened to myself or to someone I know. However, I’m currently breaking with tradition in that my latest story is very obviously based around a person and their work who would be easily identifiable by a fair few people in NI. There are elements of truth woven into the fiction and the task I now have is deciding how best to present the story.

We all source our ideas from the life we see around us, but if the person in question was to read it, what would they think of it? How much does this matter to us as writers, and how much creative licence do we have when writing about people we know? I think these questions take on a more serious tone if the writing in question is dealing with sensitive or controversial issues and in this instance, my writing is not. It’s a tale inspired by the work of another creative soul and would cause no offence to them or anyone else.

The question remains however: How would you feel if you picked up a story and saw yourself – albeit a slight distortion of yourself – ensconced in a piece of fiction someone else had written…? 🙂




Filed under Musings on writing

3 responses to “Writing from experience

  1. Seán Maguire Writer

    I think we all wrestle with this issue. A lot of my writing reflects on political violence of past 30 years with references to personal experiences.

    • Yes, it’s an interesting one, and every writer approaches it in their own way I guess. All part of the creative process, though not everyone may like it!

  2. Seán Maguire Writer

    Reblogged this on Seán Maguire Writer and commented:
    Claire Savage raises the age old question about personal experiences and writing.