Turn Your Experiences Into A Novel

I came across a brilliant idea in The Daily Writer a few days ago.

There’s the old saying isn’t there, write what you know. Yeah, ok, that’s boring and I don’t know much anyway. Well, actually…I’ve discovered I do! What about the 45 years of experience I have? All those little events throughout my life that I can use in my stories and novels? All I need to do is embellish the truth a bit, use my imagination πŸ˜‰

So lets do a little experiment….what do I know about?

(I do love a mind map lol)

But what about one off experiences? What about the evening I spent at London Zoo with a picnic? Or the day I spent in Hay On Wye going round the book shops?

In The Daily Writer they suggest that I keep a file/folder/notebook of “experiences” that I can then draw on for use in my writing. What a great idea! Fred White recommends that you list them chronologically, ie:

“Childhood Experiences”
“Adolescent Experiences”
“Adult Experiences”

And then divide those into sub sections such as:

“Experiences in Nature”
“Holiday Experiences”
“Religious Experiences”

I’d like to add a couple of my own to that list, but when I sit down to mull this over I’m sure I’ll be able to think of loads lol

Food Experiences
Places of Interest Experiences

We all think our lives are so boring, but they’re not. If you were brought up on a farm you will have a wealth of info to draw on. Me, I was brought up in an inner city, and just thinking about it now I can list a handful of experiences that might, at some stage come in handy πŸ˜‰

Oh dear, so that’s another notebook to add to the collection of the 10+ that I’m already using *snigger* πŸ˜‰

So tell me, what’s a recent experience you’ve had that you could use to inspire a story?

47 thoughts on “Turn Your Experiences Into A Novel

  1. Tomorrow night I’m going to a cult movie night. The movie? The Goonies. I have a confession to make. I am 23-years-old, and I have never seen The Goonies


  2. Oh my, where would I begin…the trials and tribulations of working in entertainment marketing, designing Star Wars Video boxes over and over again, letting go of everything, finding and losing love, raising creative children, becoming a writer at 45, and I ain’t done yet πŸ™‚


  3. And mind maps can be so colorful, too!
    Your sort and grouping of life experiences could fill loads of notebooks…lots of stories – you are right sometimes people search the distance for ideas without realizing the richness underfoot.
    Nice reminder!


  4. I’m sure your inner city childhood has given you far more material than my farm one Vikki. Of course everything we write, non-fiction or fiction, is coloured by our own life experience. Bit scary really!


    • Ooooo, I’m not too sure about that Pauline. If I wanted to write about someone who lived on a farm I’d have to do so much research lol πŸ˜‰

      It is VERY scary lol….and then we wonder why people assume, when a writer publishes a novel, that the experience of the character in the book is first hand.



  5. Funnily enough, I think that practically everything I’ve written, with the exception of my first NaNoWriMo offering, draws pretty heavily on my own experiences. I think that’s the only way I can write without getting tangled up, as I don’t do much planning in advance.


  6. I find it hard to use actual experiences directly – I tend to remember feelings more and build a story up around an emotion or the emotions certain experiences inspire in me – even if it’s just awe and wonder at the amazing old wrecks of stately homes on Stately Home Rescue etc. My childhood memories are quite a blur, but I can remember how I felt back then much better!


    • I can understand that Linda, and I guess all experiences bring up emotions. Like one of the things I’ve listed in my book is the night I was chased by prostitutes (lol…don’t ask) and yeah, it’s probably the fear I’m remembering rather than the actual episode πŸ™‚



  7. Vikki, I think we can use the most mundane moments and turn total strangers into compelling characters just by absorbing what goes on around us all day. BTW … growing up in the inner city gives you such an advantage πŸ™‚


  8. Brilliant idea! Alas, the thought of cataloguing all of those…makes my heart turn over. It’s about akin to filing paperwork so I’m not entirely sure I’ll go down that route, although I do admire your mind map! I have a notebook where I write down random things in a random order. It’s kind of like…the bits’n’bops drawer of my mind. I refer to that when I seek inspiration. Oh, and music always brings back experiences, good, bad or special. As for experiences that have inspired my stories… well, Sophie’s Turn and Sophie’s Run abound with them (speaking strictly on a personal level here, not regarding anyone else’s experiences). I say… appendicitis!


    • Ha ha ha, that’s fair enough Nicky….I’m really enjoying remembering things that happened, and flicking through old photos to spark the memories πŸ™‚

      Ahhhhh, yes, I always have a notebook on me filled with stuff that just comes to me, so I know what you mean.

      Thanks honey xx


  9. Great post. I was mugged at gunpoint as a college student so I used that experience as the opening scene for my upcoming novella. And on a cheerier note, my first kiss took place in a tree house so I used that as the opening scene for something new I’m working on.


  10. Use life experience for poetry quite often, but this way of cataloging it all is brill. will pass on to fellow poets. Thank you Ann


  11. All of this caregiving experience and learning how to get help…both are areas with a wealth of writing topics. Wish I was having some other experience, but might as well go with the flow than go down kicking and screaming.


  12. I’m trying to get into the habit of blogging the experiences. They stay in my mind more for story inspiration – I’ve a flash fiction idea I’m working on, it might even appear later if I can get through my emails!


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