Write What You Know, Right?

I have heard and been told time and time again to “write what you know”, yet I can’t seem to get myself to follow it. I wouldn’t say that I write outside of my scope of knowledge, but that is what education is for, yet I write from point of views that I don’t really have much first hand knowledge. Personally, I consider human personality and behavior to be rather common and most people react in patterns and similarities. There are always those exceptions and in greater detail, yes it ends up being fiction, but that is what fiction is about right? We are creating it from our own imagination.

My novel that I am working on “False Justice” is told from the point of view of the father. Obviously this is not something I have any first hand knowledge. I am not a parent at all nor of course am I male, yet as the story took shape in my mind, I could think of no other way for it to be told. I have let only one other person, read through most of the manuscript and he was a male, although he was not a father, he had a young nephew he viewed as his own. I know that the only thing that he ever asked was for more and that I finish the story, so I must have been doing something right?

How are we able to write about things that we don’t understand or know? I guess the fact is that it’s not that we don’t know this stuff, it’s just that we haven’t experienced it. There are a ton of stories, even reading them from the news that you can read the reactions and gain knowledge of the emotions, and all I, or any writer, is doing is transferring those emotions in to a fictional story. There are fictional writers who write based on experiences they know and yes I have other stories that are more relate able to myself, but I guess for me it’s exciting. I love being able to be outside of myself. This is a life that I am creating from the ground up, so to speak, and each new page, event, emotion is something new and different.

As writers, do we have to write about what we know and what exactly does that even mean? Does it just mean that we need to write about emotions that we know or understand, and as human beings don’t we understand them all anyway? As a creative being, I want to explore things that are new and exciting and sometimes I am confined to a desk or location and so the only way that I am able to explore those things are in my mind. I want to experience life, the best and worst of things, because I think those experiences, emotions, all of it will come through in my writing and only make it feel that much more alive.

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2 thoughts on “Write What You Know, Right?

  1. It’s funny as I am reading this I asked myself ‘what does that even mean, anyway’ and you did the same. I’ve heard the term used in advice given to build readership, which is all good if you find that niche. But if I write what I know in the sense it’s generally meant, I wouldn’t learn nearly as much. I suppose the term for me then would be ‘write what motivates you to learn something new’. I also like your thoughts on the matter. Thanks for making me think:)

    • Thank you for reading and the comment. I’m glad I could make you think. I really like what you said about writing what motivates us, that is perfectly said. If we write in that sense then what we write could also motivate another and I know I write to inspire. Thanks again for the comment. You made me think too.

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