My roommate and I have talked at length about how you can’t make your art personal. “Personalize it,” he’ll always say. “But never make it personal.”
He’s 100% right, but as an artist, sometime it’s difficult to be honest with yourself.
I recently scrapped an idea for a novel that was based on my experiences with a group of close friends. Then I picked up an idea about my experiences with dating and relationships. I scrapped that yesterday.
I’ve looked to Hemingway and Kerouac for so long and tried to use the example of their breakout novels–take an experience you actually had and write about it. But after ten years, I’ve found it doesn’t work for me.
The problem was I made everything personal.
Making it personal means making it all about you. Personalizing it means taking elements of your life and injecting them into the story you’re telling. Ultimately, what you create should serve the experience you’re living. You shouldn’t be living solely to create fodder for your art.
As Stephan King said, “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
Of course, saying something and doing it are very different.