When do you write from?

Unusual question yes? But it’s one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. When in your life most influences your writing? I don’t mean that only one area will ever touch your writing. Every instant of every day is affecting your writing, but I know many writers who pull from mainly one area of their lives. A lot of the writers I know really focus in and are driven by their childhood, that is where their writing zeros in. Which isn’t to say that they never write anything outside of childhood but that is what dominates their work. The influences of childhood reach far and wide.

I know one writer who hones in on the many years she spent in a childhood home. It’s like all of her writing is bundled up inside that house, and when she moved to a different place it hurt her deeply because she felt like she was being literally yanked from her source of inspiration. For her, ‘when’ she writes is when she lived in that house for the vasy majority of her life.

I personally do not write from my childhood very much. I honestly have blocked out the vast majority of my childhood and remember only flashes of a shadow of a memory. If you asked when I write from I would have to say the past 5 years is where most of my inspiration comes from. I have one or two poems that are entirely childhood based but they are few and far between. However, pieces of my childhood still linger in my writing. My mother is a nurse and I grew up with stories of things she’d seen in the ER and that slips into almost every aspect of my writing. My poems and stories are full of injuries and gruesome details that are lingering thoughts from those childhood stories of ER victims.

The events of your life absolutely reflect your writing style and what you write about. Memories, feelings, etc. slip into your writing everywhere. What you read as a child can and will affect what you write as an adult. I believe even in fiction, fantasy, sci-fi that pieces of your own life are there.  

Some of the things that can influence writing are memories. My most vivid childhood memory is sneaking into my family’s small above ground pool and just sinking to the bottom and staying there, staring up at the sky from under the water until someone would come rescue me. I’ve never really been normal. 🙂

However, I only recently feel I have come into myself as a writer in the past 5 years and that is where I draw most of my inspiration and is when I write from. In the future this may change but for now I feel firmly planted in ‘now.’ My childhood flavors my work, but the present is when I write from.

Where do you write from? What’s your most vivid memory?



  1. That’s a rather difficult question to answer, since I write fantasy. I have always had a very active imagination, and I can name anything from dreams I had when I was six to a conversation I had with a friend last Friday as influences.

    The answer is further complicated that many of the things that influence me are not exactly tangible. A certain sequence in a song might be an influence, a feeling I had when I watched a certain movie. The key moment of a novel I once read, or even the cheerful mood of a fellow passenger on a train.

    I could argue that the influences started when I first read a fantasy novel, but before that I loved fairy tales and Science Fiction and Fantasy movies and cartoon shows.

    So, the “when” is most definitely “all my life”.

    • Judy Black Said:

      Pegging the when for fiction writing, especially works of fantasy is always challenging but I think there are moments the linger even in those works of fantasy. I love your answer of ‘all my life’!

  2. randallweiss Said:

    For me, there are 2 “whens,” my teen years and now. I think some of my writing is trying to sort out who I should be next based on who I was then and who I am now. It’s a conversation between the two times.

    • Judy Black Said:

      That’s really interesting to have a discussion between the two different times and how they interact with one another. That is really a neat way to think about it, a conversation with oneself which is what poetry I think has to be to some extent.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Randall Weiss. Randall Weiss said: Interesting question on @judyblackcloud's blog: "When do you write from?" http://bit.ly/eNc92n […]

  4. Laura Said:

    When do I write from? Honestly, I draw on history a LOT. One of my biggest pet peeves ever is people who say that “history is boring.” It’s not. It’s so fascinating—all these people were real, they existed, they had lives and lived in worlds and times that are almost as good as reading fantasy. Which is why it makes so much sense to draw on human history when writing fantasy.

    As for from my personal life, I can definitely say my grandiose imagination comes from a childhood travelling Europe in an Army family–mountains, castles, lakes, oceans, diverse languages/people/art and history, of course. My fiction doesn’t really relate to real events in my life, or if it does, it does it in an abstract way.

    • Judy Black Said:

      Human history is an amazing place to draw inspiration from. I have several poems that draw entirely on a historical moment in time.
      Wow it sounds like you really did have a very interesting childhood that would inspire a lot. I think fiction is a lot harder to peg as having a ‘when’ poetry seems to fall into a much more personal time span.

  5. I definitely write from college, most of the time – that’s when my sense of humour and interest in speculative fiction really solidified, and you can hear a lot of my snarky student voice in my writing.

    Then again, I have one story I’m working on that very specifically comes from a time when I was out of college, working at a job that made me miserable, and hating life. If you know me, it’s painfully obvious where the story comes from, and when…

    • Judy Black Said:

      I love the snark! I always really love it when personality comes through in writing and I think that really can make a piece of writing shine.
      That’s also one thing about writing I always worry about, people who know me pegging where or what something is about, sometimes even before I realize where/when something might be about.

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