Writing: self-inspiration, part two

Recently, I’ve wrote about some ways you can use your own hobbies, experience, and other things in your writing. Today, I’m returning to this topic and will touch personality and memories.

Using yourself for inspiration is trickier in this aspect. One of the main reasons is that protagonists are usually strong, brave, empatethic, often charismatic. They are willing to sacrifice much for others. Whereas we writers might not have those traits. Our lives might be quite uninteresting compared to most heroes from books and movies alike. It’s not that long I’ve believed self-inspiration for a protagonist is outright impossible.

Skills and hobbies are something you can use, as I’ve hinted the last time. Yet, what I mean this time is something different. It’s about the small things, memories you are fond of. The joy of reaching your goal, no matter how small it was, is something very similar to what a hero will feel when they accomplish something. What matters here is not the goal itself but the emotions and memories related to it.

Likewise, some of the most ordinary moments in a hero’s life are something many people experience in their lives – whether it is looking forward to meeting a friend you haven’t met for a long time, the anxiety before a date (or exam/job interview), or the dreamless nights when you’re about to make an important life decision. Another situation is guilt from something you did (it doesn’t even need to be something bad, just not completely right).

If you’ve ever felt an adrenaline rush for any reason (it does not need to be a dangerous sport such as skydiving), know that the feeling is, in the base, very similar to an adrenaline rush a character feels before a battle.

The point is to remember how these moments felt and use this when writing a scene where the character feels the same (or at least similar). If you manage to use your own experience well, chances are the scene will be more believable than when written by someone who only imagined how it’d feel like.

Heroes need to be relatable. To achieve that, they need a weakness (and can have more than one) tol remind us they are not invincible, that they are not without flaws. I am shy, doubt myself, and tend to overthink things – and used that to show a different side of my MC.

There are also personality traits that can be a double-edged blade. Curiosity is one of them – while the desire to search for new facts can help to explore new possibilities to overcome an obstacle, it can also lead to spending far too much time thinking about the issue than actually solving it – or letting your mind stray away and think about countless many other things, eventually cluttering one’s mind too much.

As I hinted, I did not believe I could ever get to use self-inspiration when I started writing. When you’re writing the first draft (especially if you keep it very rough), thinking whether a character’s emotions might be similar to something you’ve been through is probably not among the most important things to consider. It’s something you can do during drafting when you delve into the scenes and give them as much depth as you can when you can go into yourself and see if there’s something to use.


That’s all I’ll say for today. I’ll welcome your comments – have you managed to use your own experiences, good or bad, in your writing?

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