Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Post by Misha

Misha is visiting today to talk about how her life - which sounds far more interesting than most! - influences her writing. Visit her at her always entertaining blog, My First Book - Ellen

One of my best friends asked me how my everyday activities influence my writing. It sort of left me gaping. I mean, it sort of follows that my activities will influence my writing.

But it’s more complicated than that. I mean, I do and have done a lot of interesting activities (to me anyway) from ballroom to solo singing to fencing to French and Mandarin. But… none of my characters are dancers. None speak any of my languages. None fence.

The only time that one of my fun activities went into my writing was when I did swordsmanship, dagger-work and grappling… as research.

Does it mean that nothing that I do goes into my writing? No… it just means that the details are finer. I use my language back-ground to build fantasy languages. My fencing experience reminds me of the rush you feel right before you decide to move.

But most of all, it’s the human interactions that give me the most fodder. I don’t put whole people in my stories. Don’t even base characters on people I’ve met.

Rather, I sort of pick up on things, like an aspect to a relationship. Or what I call character twitches. Those little things that goes contrary to what we expect from a person, given what we know.

The fears, the hope. The voices used. I breathe those things.

I take those little bits and wait for my muse to mix them together to make magic.

So that’s how I let my life influence my writing. But I’m more interested in how you do it. What do you find makes its way into your writing more than most? How does your life influence what you write?


  1. I think that sounds much likemy own approach, mix and match. People think write what you know is limiting, but most people know things at a deeper level than they realise.

    Moody Writing

  2. What a great post, and to echo Mooderino, it sounds like my approach, too. I take snippets from every facet of my life.

  3. Definitely think that's the way most people write, it would be very hard to not let your life influence your writing :)

  4. Great post, Misha! I love the idea of "character twitches."

    Nice to discover your blog as well, Ellen, looks like a wonderful site. :)

  5. I've read some of Misha's writing and it is superb. You can tell that the experiences you've outlined here, Misha, really go far to make your work shine.

    BTW...I love this blog. I love the colors of it on my screen and the little hummingbirds. :)

  6. I don't tend to base my characters on actual people; it never seems to fit quite right when I try. So it's the "character twitches" for me, too.

    Great post!

  7. If there's an up side to getting older it's that you have a lifetime of memories to pick and choose tiny details. Unfortunately, you also have to take the arthritis, annoying forgetfulness, and occasional crankiness.

  8. Everything influences me: friends, family, religion, music, art, other authors, watching strangers etc. It all depends on my mood and what captures me in the moment.

  9. Great post Misha! I love hearing how your everyday life affects your writing. Life influences me as well, and like some others I base a lot of my characters on people I know. Which definitely keeps things interesting! :)

  10. Misha, this has been a wonderful way to learn more about the person behind one of my favorite blogs. Even if we’re writing about a “what if,” we can’t help but have pieces of ourselves, even if they’re small, in our books. That could be why rejection letters and critiques can really sting sometimes. :) Thank you for hosting Misha, Ellen; I’m glad to be a new follower!

  11. I love how you say it's a mix of magic!

  12. Mood I agree 100%. Even though we sometimes write about things we haven't experienced, we still need to ground it in things we know. I.e. how we react, how others react etc.

    Talli, I think that's the difference between writers and the rest of humanity. We have an ability (or perhaps just willingness) to take snippets of life and put them together into a different shape to the one that the pieces came from in the first place.

    True, Juls. On the other hand, we have to be careful not to let too much of life creep in, because then all our stories would look the same. ;-)

    Thanks Julie. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Oh wow, Mike, thank you for such a wonderful compliment!

    Eagle I don't do it either. It just feels wrong, because I'm not basing the character on a person, but rather on my perception of that person. So in a way it feels like I'd be doing a half job.

    Maria that's such a good point. Sometimes I get frustrated because I have to write down or act out an emotion or scene that I've never really experienced in my own life and I have to work so much harder to get it right. But like you said, age has a downside too. ;-)

    Sylvia I know what you mean. It feels like sparks of inspiration captures me as well.

    Thanks Amy. I never seem to get it right to base a character fully on people I know. How do you do it?

    Aw thanks Michelle! I sometimes think that it's pieces of our souls on the page. All of our love and passion go into writing, so no matter what people say, it is personal and because of that, it always stings, no matter how nicely the rejection is written.

    Thanks Christina. What else could writing be? I mean, sometimes I'm amazed that I could write something, because it came from a place that I didn't even think about. Magic, I tell you. :-D

  13. I think I don't let my life influence my wrinting, since I write to escape sometimes. And yet when I feel like bursting into flames, I write a guy that does just that.

    I think it is different every time I write. What I let influence my story and what not. It's almost like writing allegory, or "applicability". How much do I want my own story to influnce that of my characters?

  14. Wow, Misha! You are quite the renaissance woman! I'm impressed. As for life influencing my writing, well, that's where my memoir comes into play. p.s. Nice to meet you, Ellen!

  15. Theresa I think it's definitely something that all writers have to decide for themselves... How much of us should go into our stories. On the other hand, sometimes it happens all on its own... :-)

    Hehehehe Samantha I'm not sure if I'm quite a Renaissance woman, I think I should be a bit better at everything to qualify. I let my life influence my writing when I blog. :-)

  16. Hey Misha
    Great post. I especially love when you say: "My fencing experience reminds me of the rush you feel right before you decide to move."
    Every experience can be used to create fiction, because fear, joy, pain and confusion exist, not only in the big moments, but in the small, everyday ones too. I think the "write what you know" myth of having to experience a specific thing to be able to write about it has been exploded. Writers are observers, we can pick up bits of magic from anywhere

  17. Enjoyed the post, Misha.
    "it’s the human interactions that give me the most fodder."
    Your statement is absolutely true. I agree with it.

  18. Mag that's so true. The thing about being a writer. Not only do we pick up little bits and pieces of magic, we have to put it all together again.

    Thanks Rachna. I can see from your posts that I've read that you're also pretty character driven like me. :-)

  19. A lot of mixing and matching, picking up on things, behaviours, and then weaving them into characters.

    I did incorporate an element of what I do for fun into one of my main characters, making him a mountain climber.


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