Avoiding the pitfalls
When you’re writing about your own life, it can be easy to forget to use all the tools you have in your writing toolkit. There are some key things to remember when writing from personal experience.
- Facts can be dull – so don’t just list them. If there are key things that the reader needs to know – like where you were born, or how many schools you’ve been to – then weave them in to your narrative. Spread out factual information.
- Be careful about what you pick to write about. Something which is very important to you can make for very effective writing. It can also be difficult to write objectively about something which is too close to your emotions. That can make it more difficult to think about which details the reader needs – and which you should keep to yourself.
- Treat writing from personal experience as you would other creative writing. Just because it’s real life doesn’t mean it has to be written like a news report. Make sure you use varied sentence structures, a range of punctuation and manipulate your language for effect. Metaphors, similes and other imagery all belong here.
- You don’t have to be completely truthful. You are drawing on your personal experience but you are also writing for effect. You can miss out things which don’t matter, or change what someone said if you can make the piece funnier or more dramatic.