Write about yourself

As an aspiring writer, I am always on the lookout for things to write about. However, the words of a previous university lecturer have stayed with me, crippling my confidence in my own words. He said “Amateur writers are only able to write about themselves, but once they become more advanced they will have the capacity to write about anything.” A year has passed since I heard those words, and they instilled in me a sense of shame. I figured that one day I would have a lightbulb moment, when I was finally able to portray the world without the lens of myself filtering it, but until that moment I wouldn’t be a good writer. I was still waiting for the lightbulb moment, until recently when a wise friend gave me some invaluable advice.

“You’re writing about little fragments of yourself at all times. You can just hone in to your perceptions of the world and write them. You’re not writing about trees, or other people, or anything else, you’re just writing about parts of yourself and the world as you see. It’s interesting to get that distinction too, because it just opens all kinds of doors. You can see anything and anyone any way you want, you’re just left at the mercy of what you thought originally, which opens you up to being able to write with more versatility.”

Suddenly, I realised that my favourite authors did exactly this – conveying their perception of the world through characters who were, a lot of the time, based from themselves. Hermann Hesse is the perfect example of an author who recorded the changes he experienced as a person as he went through life, and characterised each stage of his life through his protagonists.

I finally had the lightbulb moment, however instead of looking outwards to the world and forgetting myself, I looked inwards and found the whole world inside me. My perception of life is infinitely different to yours, which answers another question that had been plaguing me – who would want to read what I write? Why is it important? Anybody who yearns to convey their understanding of life, through writing, music, art, dance – anything – has an equally valid reason to share their experiences as anyone else does, because nobody has the same story. 

I now feel unimpeded by the rules of what a good writer should be. I will write about myself and my perceptions, because I am the most important person in my life. I will always see things through the lens of my own eyes, but I am the only person who can communicate this point of view. The world is mine to write about.

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