Friday, August 10, 2012

"Write What You Know" *

How many of us have heard those four little words whenever we've sought advice about our writing? "Write What You Know." What exactly does that mean? Does that mean that we will have no adventure stories, no great romances, no epic science fiction tales, and no psychological thrillers in our repertoire? Did Robert E. Howard live in a land of barbarians? Did Barbara Cartland live a life of chaste romance between the social classes of old England? Was George Lucas involved with extra-terrestrials and futuristic time travel that allowed him to create "Star Wars"? And how about Stephen King? What on earth has that man been through that he knows about possessed cars and demonic dogs?

Those four words, "Write What You Know", can be discouraging to those of us who live what are probably, for lack of better words, "just normal lives." However, this video, by Nathan Englander, gives a different perspective on that once trite advice which just might encourage us all.

Aha! So that's where all those writers have been coming up with those fantastic stories. It hasn't come strictly from experience, though that certainly plays a part. Instead, it comes from the heart, the soul, the spirit. Those emotions we have, those questions we ask, the things we fear and the things we love - all of that works together with our imaginations to create the stories that make new journeys; not only for ourselves, but for our readers, too.

* Ancient Writing Wisdom, and a YouTube Video from BigThink with Nathan Englander


  1. This is great, Kimberley. I've never thought about "Write what you know" from that perspective.

    1. Thanks, Don. I know that I sure hadn't either. I was pretty sure I was relegated to writing about raising an only child, being a total clutz, or working a series of very unusual jobs. Which is all well and good, but you never know -- I might want to branch out and write about sibling rivalry, being a ballerina, or being independently wealthy and never having worked a day in my life! ;-)