Creating from what we know

Do you ever watch a riveting film or read an engaging book or otherwise enjoy any great work and wonder: "Where did that inspiration come from?" At the same time you may be thinking about how that writer, painter, or artist captured the essence of something deep within you. Well, the secret is that artists create from what they know.

My friend and fellow blogger Claudia Del Balso's recent post about writing from pain relates to this notion. Great symphonies can elicit guttural reactions as they reach into us with a poignancy that draws out our innermost feelings. We can see the rawness of Van Gogh's pain in his paintings. The film Incendie is a moving tale. Although not based on a true story, it's an ingenious depiction of someone's reality, even if it's pieced together and woven with threads from different real stories. Creative works usually arise out of a place of knowing, of the known--be that pleasure or pain.

As writers, we write from what we know. For example, over the years, I went on many fishing excursions with family and friends, finally realizing a disinterest in the sport as I turned vegetarian. But those years of hooking worms, getting snagged and patiently awaiting a bite were not lost as I parlayed all that experience into a play about fishing and used it to communicate some important social values around misogyny. It was a wholly cathartic piece of writing, playing with a specific genre in order to express personally meaningful issues, and within the context of fishing, no less!

What do you find yourself creating from what you know?


  1. My experiences in life and things that deeply touch me will permeate my writing, sometimes whether I know it or not!

  2. In my experience regarding fishing, I too stopped the 'sport' and did not come up with a play. I do see the allegorical interpretation of fishing in terms of baiting and waiting. Rather, I stopped because I 'became' the fish. In trying to experience what it felt like on the other side of the line, the days of 'gone fishin' were over for me.

    A writer must be a guinea pig of sorts; both the experiment and the experimenter. Experiencing and understanding the negative in order to relate to the reader why life's path meanders in pain and in pleasure. Communicating a greater universal understanding is accomplished not in contentment but through personal conflict that is encountered by chance or circumstance.

  3. Hi Kelly,
    Thank you for the shout out ;)
    In my writing experience, I used to write poems inspired by nature, love, and people. When I crossed over to short stories I wrote stories that were complete figment of my imagination (they worked out for me just fine), but now I write from what I know like you write here. I'm very spontaneous so I write depending on my mood or whatever inspires me at that moment.


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