When I was a sophomore in High School, I signed up for a Creative Writing class, eager to begin my writing journey with fictional characters and curious about how to do world-building; but as I got my schedule for the upcoming year, the name had changed to “Creative Non-Fiction”. Disappointed and confused, I went to the counselor to see if they had made a mistake. What I hadn’t known was that the creative writing teacher had been switched to one of the English teachers, eager to teach the upper-level students in a new and interesting way. The definition of Non-Fiction is writing based on fact and real events, but I remember telling my friends “There is nothing about my life that is worthy to write about!” but I couldn’t have been more wrong. That class opened up a possibility to writing for me that I wouldn’t have seen before. At first, with every prompt, I struggled to think of stories that other people would be interested in reading, but as I was introduced to creative styles to create my stories, I was starting to see my life in a whole new light. That is when I realized that writing about my life in a structured and intellectual way could be therapeutic.
- Writing can be therapeutic. This is a very common phrase that writers insist on, but sometimes gets brushed under the rug. There are two ways that you can write about your life: in diary entries, and in Non-Fiction pieces that could be published for other people to read (not that diaries haven’t been translated to text for others to enjoy). There are many influential Non-Fiction writers that have changed my opinion on the subject such as David Sedaris, a hilarious writer that publishes many enjoyable short stories and essays, as well as Annie Dillard, who writes about her own intimate experiences with nature. Each of these authors has written about their lives in ways that make the reader analyze their own actions and the world that they are living in. While I was writing about my experiences of my sister leaving for college, one of the prompts was to thread in a metaphor, forcing me to truly analyze what I was feeling. Each of my pieces after that was more meaningful and thought-provoking that I sought more Non-Fiction books and authors to take inspiration from. Not only can writing about your feelings help process a traumatic experience, but it can also add value to small parts of your life.
- Writing helps you see beauty, patterns, and growth in your life, in ways you have never seen before. There are many ways that you can write about your own life, such as in essays, poetry, and songs. Each has its own unique style but work in ways that transcend to communities around the world. Even if your experience is one-of-a-kind, it might help educate other people about what you are going through, or give a platform to those whose voices we haven’t heard before. Through these creative outlets, we are able to identify the things that we appreciate or loathe the most, the ways that we have hurt or helped other people, made us think about our past and how much we have changed, and most of all: writing about the events in your life helps you remember about the moments that matter the most.
- Writing gives you a voice and helps you realize that your life matters. Even if we don’t believe in ourselves at the moment, each of our lives helps influence the world today. Even the smallest part of our life can be changed into something greater. For example, I just wrote a poem where I dreamt that my cat was the entirety of ancient Egypt, connecting it to the disconnect that we have between species, as well as time and past cultures. Even the simplest moment can influence creativity, not just the most immense pain or joy. Sometimes what most people relate to is the simpleness and domestic rhythm of life.
I urge every writer to look up and read a few essays from David Sedaris or Annie Dillard –or any other Non-Fiction writer– and write a piece of their own. Get creative with it! Mix up the timeline! Make it interesting to write and read! Include humor!
Sometimes our own lives are the best place for ideas and inspiration.