Is Your Writing Telling Tales On You?

Have you ever considered what your writing says about you as a person?

Something? Nothing? Not sure? —-Come on be honest.

You don’t have to look very far to see what peeks a writer’s interests because it is right there on the page for everyone to witness, sometimes boldly so, others times more subtly, a sprinkling of small clues hidden here and there.(No one will ever know.) If you think you’re being clever about it, you might want to think again.

If I were to use my own novel as an example, it would tell the reader that I have an interest in history, especially local history, since I set it in 1940’s Nova Scotia. Not only that, they could probably guess that I am interested in healing plants which play an important roll in the book. If they were really paying attention they might even pick up on the idea that I’m interested in things of a spiritual nature, which mama brought though loud and clear in the book. Got to love mamas for their eternal wisdom, right?

The wonderful thing about life is that we learn and grow. We hear about something new and suddenly we’re interested in finding out more about it. When something I’ve heard or seen grabs my attention I like to jot these things down so that I can look back and remember when the time is right. Relying on my own brainpower just doesn’t work.

Nothing feels better to me than starting a new notebook and filling it with ideas. Many times it is just a word or two scribbled across the page. And I do love placing asterisks in front of those really important thoughts that will definitely need attention at some point in time.

If a writer can’t think of anything to write about they need only to pay attention to what’s happening in the world around them. Life is anything but mundane. Ideas are everywhere. Think about the things you like, and the things that have made you stand back in wonder. Do you like handmade quilts? Spaceships? Trees? Animals? Cars? Mountain? (Okay I could go on forever here, but I’m sure you get the point.)

Finding something to write about is a matter of keeping our minds and thoughts open to the endless possibilities that surround us. That next story is out there waiting to be written. If it is your story then you are the only one who can write it. That’s an important thing to keep in mind. No one can write that story but you. No one can bring that uniqueness to the page the way you can.

If someone you didn’t know picked up your book or manuscript, and read it, would it tell them anything about you? Would they discover the things that interest you, the things that surround you, the emotions you feel, the thoughts you think?

Can a writer hide behind their books? I don’t think so. I’m willing to bet that you have put something of your own into your writing. Our fiction does not spring to life from out of nowhere. It comes through us, and our true self trickles onto the page whether we want it to or not. The fiction we write might be a complete figment of or imagination, but we are still there on the page regardless.

What clues have you left behind in your writing, either intentionally or unintentionally, that would tell you reader a little about the person you are?

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  1. I also think writing reveals something about what/who the writer desires to be, as well as who they are at that moment in their life. When I look back on my own writing, it defenitely reflects who I am, but also the dreams and desires for my future self.

    • Absolutely, Tracy. Our desires of who we wish to be are just as important as who we are. Reflecting upon our own work helps us discover where we are headed. If a writer stays stagnant their writing will not excite or inspire them.

  2. My human’s philosophy is to leave more then clues in his writing – he wants to leave his soul in the pages. After all, isn’t the purpose for writing to transfer what’s in you to allow others to select and add it to them? Really like your post!

    • I’m wondering if people don’t often think that only poets leave their “soul in the pages.” I’m sure , for someone who doesn’t write, they might not consider what the writer weaves into their stories. Perhaps only another writer would understand this.I’m glad you liked the post.

  3. Ann Best

     /  July 17, 2011

    If a writer can’t think of anything to write….

    As you say, look around at *the world.* Ideas are everywhere. They’re also inside you, if you’ve lived enough and *long* enough to write memoir. Of course in memoir you reveal yourself a lot. And the “clues” to who you are also are revealed through your fiction, only more subtly.

    Good post. I enjoyed it. And thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. I’m now going to look at the excerpt of your book.

    • Memoirs are very telling, and one bears their soul completely. You are brave, Ann, much braver, I believe, than I would be. We can attempt to hide behind our fiction but not so when writing a memoir. Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  4. All our opinions, emotions and resentments as well as our unique sense of humor comes out in the speech and interaction of the characters in some way. Sometimes an editor will bring it to our attention if the “me” in the character is too apparent or flavors the character in a way we did not intend.

    • An excellent point, Carl. These things can and do come through in out writing and as writers we need to be mindful not to take over the story by bringing own insecurities and negative thoughts onto the page.

  5. alisondelory

     /  July 17, 2011

    I wish I had a notebook of ideas–but I do have a great memory and many images, scenes, observations, etc. in my head that I hope will make it onto pages some day. I think if you were to read my fiction you would figure out I am mostly interested in what connects humans to one another. I also rely on “write what you know” so tend to set stories in my hometown and have characters that do things I do or have done, like running or working at a magazine. Humour, too, which I think is so vital to life, is something I often try to incorporate though it can be sooooooo difficult.

    • Not all the notes I take end up in my writing, but I find, especially when I’m working on a piece, that ideas pop into my head when I’m in the middle of doing something totally unrelated. It makes sense to jot those things down. News articels are often a good source of inspiration as well.

      I like writing what I know and it’s always good advise, Allison. It really helps bring our stories to life. Humour is very difficult to write, some writers can do it so effortlessly, but not this writer. I love to laugh and make jokes in real life but capturing that humour on the page is challenging.

  6. “Life is anything but mundane.” YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN!

    I think it’s fair to say that we leave some part of ourselves on the pages – some of us more than others. Good post.

    • Thanks Dave. I’m So willing to bet that you like pirates, sunken treasure, sailing, local history…..And your grandkids….There is always some way to bring real life to the page and make it anything but mundane. There is always a reason why we write the things we write.

  7. I would love to be a bug on the wall of every reader’s home who ever read my book. I can’t imagine how you would not influence your own writing. You, the author, have opinions about everything, even if you think you can be bias. Being bias over certain subjects and having strong convictions over others says a lot. Trying to be non-judgmental also says a lot. I gave up a while ago and now I just write the story. My parents have passed, so I’m probably feeling a bit more free to write what I want.

    • We are definitely there between the pages. I have to say that I might not think about it so much if I wasn’t a writer myself. I think writers need to be mindful not to bring certain biases with us to the page. Not always an easy thing to do.

  8. You have given a lot of ‘food for thought’ in this post, Laura. I think it’s true that who we are infiltrates the words that appear on the page, but I’m not sure what mine is saying yet.

    • I’m glad the post gave you something to think about, Patti. Often times we don’t know what our writing is telling us until we’ve had time to reflect.

  9. I think writing, even fiction writing, allows us to share a part of us, some part that might go unnoticed by others or something that we might be embarrass to admit. certainly, there are some things I will never admit to people but I will put them into my writing. I’ll never admit the particulars as my stories will unlikely be read other than by a few blog readers.

    hope you’re day is sweet and cool.

    • Fiction writing can sometimes be a good place to hide out, and you’re right, Lissa, we do put things into our writing that would go unnoticed by others. Yet it still feels good to get it out in the open even if we are the only ones who know.


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