Write What You Know

When someone says “Write what you know” they mean you should write about what you’ve learned and experienced. If you’ve had an interesting life, you will have lots to write about. What you’ve done. Your jobs. Places you’ve lived. People you’ve known. But, what if you’ve lived a stable, unchanging life or are just starting out. Does that mean you have little or nothing to write about?

When you want to write about something you don’t know, learn it. Experience it if possible. At the least, you need to be able to relate new information to your past experiences in some way. That’s why so many great writers started when they were older. Young writers can also become great when they are voracious readers. There are no great writers who are not also great readers. Everything you read or have read is potential fodder for your pen.

You Know Your Emotions

When a fictional character needs to feel an emotion you can pull it from your own life. You don’t need to have gone up against a bike gang to know how the anxiety would feel. Recall your first experiences with public speaking or another situation that caused you high anxiety.

It works the same when writing nonfiction. The emotional and intellectual requirements for succeeding in any field of knowledge are relatable.

“Know” May Be the Wrong Word

Don’t write what you know if it bores you. If you don’t enjoy writing it, your audience won’t enjoy reading it.

Write what interests you. Write what you are passionate about. Write what you would want to read. How the subject makes you feel is what you will pass on to your readers.

Write What You Don’t Know

There you have it. You don’t need to limit yourself to only writing what you already know. When you want to write about something you don’t know, research the topic and it becomes something you know. Add your personal experiences that are relatable and you’re on your way.

Article by Ivan Izo.

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One thought on “Write What You Know

  1. Mike June 4, 2011 / 10:09 pm

    My usual mode of writing for my “philosophy” posts is usually issues that interest me, and on which I have more or less well-formulated opinions and beliefs.
    example: http://innovationimitation.com/2011/06/the-rise-of-the-conscious-organization/

    My “personal development” posts are indeed taken from my own experience, but I try to do more then simply share the story: I try to find a more general pattern, that is universally relevant applicable, and show how it is reflected from my personal story.
    example:
    http://innovationimitation.com/2011/03/turning-30/

    p.s.
    “Write what you are passionate about. Write what you would want to read. How the subject makes you feel is what you will pass on to your readers” – this is right on mark.

    Like

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