Writing 101: Write What You Know?

Writing 101 Graphic

Do you remember the first piece of writing advise you were ever given? I do.

“Write what you know.”

And, I do understand the point. The blank page can be scary. It can be intimidating and frustrating and feel like there is so much to do. It can be overwhelming, so someone told me to write what I knew. Write from the familiar voice inside my head. Write where I am comfortable with what I already know.

After a few years of dreaming of writing and trying to write what I know, I’ve come to two separate but equally relevant conclusions:

1. my life is not all that interesting.

Now, before you get all bothered and tell me that my life is not that boring, let me talk about what I mean for a minute.  My life is crazy busy. I do a lot of things I truly love. I am happy, well-adjusted and do my best to try and be joyful. My life is FULL. I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I work full-time (plus, depending on the week). I read, I write, I play games. I volunteer. I walk my dog. I travel. I take vacations. I believe in trying new things. I live life to the full. But, my normal, everyday life? Not really worth writing about. I have been blessed with few tragedies and am stifled by few huge successes. What I know is deep. I am educated, and believe deeply that a person should never stop learning. But all those bits and pieces? They don’t make up the story I want to write. They are the story I want to tell with my life, for sure. But what I want to get lost in and write about? It’s not what I know…it’s what I want to know.

2. writing only what I know would be undeniably limiting.

See above. If everyone only wrote what they knew, there would be no science-fiction. There would be no fantasy. There would be no questioning of God, the universe and the stories around us. There would be no make believe. And, as an avid lover of fiction and writing that makes me want to believe in other worlds, my favorite works are often ground not in someone’s reality, but in their imagination. I believe if you’re writing non-fiction, you should tread carefully and write what you know – or what you’re willing to learn. But, when it comes the majority of writing, explore, envision, create new worlds. Look at the things you love about the world and incorporate them. What do you not like? How can you make it better? Write on, dear ones. Write the words and the worlds you can only imagine.

Throughout this series of blog posts, I will be sharing what works for me as a writer – and what doesn’t. I will be exploring my own renewed passion for writing and hopefully be giving you snippets and glimpses into the worlds I am creating. It’s going to be a fun journey!