This article is generally under the heading of "write what you know." But, it explains why it is important for the writer to draw on personal experience in fiction. The quote that made me stop scanning and start reading:
...[T]he reason writers must bare their souls on the page is because someone out there in the world desperately needs to hear our story. There is a woman or a man out there that has suffered as we, the writer, have suffered. That man or woman may not have the words or the strength to say what needs to be said, and to share what needs to be shared, and so we are providing them a great service by doing it for them.Other peoples' stories have always nurtured, educated and inspired me. I love a good story, whether told verbally by a good story-teller or written in a book where I can savor it and revisit it whenever I want. Stories have the power to heal. Often tragedies spread the most healing balm. I couldn't begin to guess how many times in my life I've been lost, lonely, afraid or just pissed off at Life and I crawled into a book, or occasionally a movie. Typically the story doesn't make my problems go away. But, they can sometimes make me laugh in spite of it all. Or, they may point out that my problems may not be as big as I think they are, which allows me to gain some perspective. Occasionally, they may either make me cry enough to have a personal catharsis or inspire me enough to get up off the couch and do something about my situation.
As a writer of stories, I feel that my highest purpose is to share stories in which other people (strangers whom I'll never know) may take refuge for a little while. Sort of paying it forward, if you will. It only works if I'm willing to be totally honest. That's the hard part for me as a writer, but, as a reader, I know how I appreciate honesty from other writers. Being honest may be the single most important thing a writer can do.