Now to the post! I know a young lady going to USC this fall for Screenwriting. She shared the title of one her potential classes with me and not only did it crack me up, it made me think. So here's my take on the term: Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting.
We hear all the time the advice, write what you know. But that doesn't mean a literal recounting of your life. Well, I suppose there are a lucky few who've been through some pretty amazing stuff. But the vast majority of people... not so much.
What it DOES mean is that we've all experienced similar emotions. Whether it was from losing a loved one, or your goldfish when you were six, you experienced something called grief. It's that feeling that you have to capture. The situation you can extrapolate. But the visceral reaction that underlies it, that's what you want to evoke. If you can do that to the reader, then you've made a connection that means everything. How? Well, NOT by revisiting your own life in detail. Instead truly understand your character and put them in situations that will evoke those emotions.
Doesn't that class sound fun though? That's my type of humor!