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personal experience in writing

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By Johannes Helmold

In one of the previous posts, I stated that a writer is somehow similar to a demiurg, due to having the power to create and organize the pseudo-reality of their own imagination. Indeed, as a writer, you are the one who decides upon what will happen to the world you created.

However, there is a trick any demiurg should know. Though many people tend to confuse this term with God, in fact there is a difference between gods and demiurgs. A god is capable of creating something from nothing: this is pure creation. A demiurg, in its turn, can create something based only on what had been created before; this is the only limitation, but it is rather substantial.

“How does all this apply to me?” you might ask. And I would say, “You can’t write well about something that goes beyond your experience from your head.” Try to write a screenplay for a drama about medical doctors, having completely no idea about medicine. Try to write science fiction (I mean real science fiction, not just “gunfire in space”) without knowing the basics of astrophysics. Or just try to describe feelings of a man getting divorced without even being married yourself. Do you really think your writing in this case will be convincing?

I doubt that. Most likely, it will look forced out, unprofessional, or vague. Some of your readers, of course, won’t notice your flaws, but those with more experience will pay attention to them; and this, in its turn, can directly affect your reputation.

My advice is to write from your personal experience. In other words, to write about some field, you must know about it. Fortunately, it does not imply you will have to take a university course in astrophysics, marry and divorce, or perform surgeries for five years. But, it means you should at least learn the basics, interview people who are competent in your topic, and get acquainted with the brightest examples of a corresponding genre. For example, if you are planning to create another sci-fi masterpiece, why not read a couple of books by Stephen Hawking first? Then you might want to reinforce your positions with Arthur Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” or Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” or some other great and renowned sci-fi book. Finally, you might polish your knowledge through browsing forums on physics, astrophysics, thermodynamics, and other clever stuff. And only after you do it all, you can start writing your sci-fi novel.

This does not mean you cannot write a great book without specific knowledge. But any research gives your writing credibility, broadens your personal outlook, and improves the quality of your writing. Don’t forget that a demiurg can use only those materials that are already present in its reality. So, why not fill it with more tools you can use to expand your power?

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