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For Aspiring Writers

A Misunderstood Piece of Advice: Write What You Know


Write what you know.

It seems simple at first glance. But that’s where most people go wrong. Try not to take this piece of advice literally. It simply won’t do your imagination any favours. If JRR Tolkein took this advice literally, where would be one of the most famous wizards of them all? If reporters all followed this advice literally, then who would tell us all the news stories?

Write what you know can be interpreted, metaphorically, in a number of ways.

Write what you understand is the one that works best for me. If you understand the situation, your story will be consistent, if you understand the characters, you’ll be able to create a well developed personality, if you understand the emotions, you will be able to create human experience that you reader is looking for, the journey that makes them feel things. That’s what write what you know means to me.

Research will always help your knowledge – you may not *know* anything about the police system at the start, but with research, you will know it. Don’t let any gaps in your knowledge hinder you to write, that can all be filled in. Where you cannot fail is not letting yourself write and explore your story in depth because you don’t relate to your own stories, and your own characters.

Write what you can make into a developed, fulfilling story.

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5 thoughts on “A Misunderstood Piece of Advice: Write What You Know

  1. Whitney Rains on said:

    Great advice!!!

  2. Great post on a frequetly used writing phrase. Good advice. 🙂

  3. And remember, even if you think you do know or understand something, a little research is never a bad idea 🙂

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