Write What You (Don’t) Know


Actually, writing is not all that complicated. You have a very simple choice when you write:

  • Write what you know.
  • Write what you don’t know.

It’s that simple.

Not easy. Just simple.


Write What You Know

You might know a great deal about something – or a little bit about many things. The trick is deciding how you want to combine these knowings into a piece of writing.

The Life and Times of … You!

On any given Wednesday, slightly later than lunch, you might think that you have a truly boring life and an uninspiring existence. But don’t sell yourself short.

Maybe some things are slightly ordinary: making porridge; checking your mail; watering the plants; washing the car.

But twiddle with them and you could have something worth writing about, for instance:

  • Porridge vs Cereal … and the Winner is …
  • What Should Happen With Your Email Account After Your Death?
  • Home-made Mixes to Make Your Violets Blush
  • 7 Shiny Car-washing Rules

Yeah. You get the idea.

And I didn’t even mention the stuff that you did that was actually … to be honest … quite spectacular.  Such as the prize for the biggest zit in school; swimming with dolphins; losing your baby fat/abusive partner/mind.

Lots of stuff to write about. Lots.


Friends and Enemies … Lend Me Your Lives!

You are not such a dull person, after all, don’t you agree? And, being a special person, you have intriguing friends and spectacular enemies. And they all have such interesting lives that you could … well, kinda borrow a section or so for a storyline or a blog post. (You will return it, after all!)

Seriously – people you know and love, or people you know and don’t love that much, are a bit like the spices in a great stew. They make it all come together.

Their lives could offer direct inspiration. If a friend did something amazing, or lived through something that could guide or inspire others, think about doing an interview for a blog or an article. Or use what they know as the background for a plot.

If you do a straight interview, let them approve it once it’s done and before it’s published. If you used an experience from their lives, discuss the ways in which you would like to use it so that it doesn’t cause them embarrassment. Be prepared to give it up, if necessary. It wasn’t after all, yours to start with.

Maybe some friends could inspire characters. Be careful, though. They should provide inspiration for a character, not act as a blueprint. A quirk that you could attach to your villain. Or kindness that you could give to your strong male lead character. Maybe just the glint in their eye or the way in which they touch with strength, but also with compassion.

When you are dealing with others, always remember to step carefully.


Write What You Don’t Know

However, writing is not only about the five senses or the past, present and future of a life lived.

It’s also about Middle-earth,

the Emerald City

and Hogwarts.

It’s about going Where No Man Has Gone Before.

It’s about Shrek,

Nemo and

living in a Giant Peach.

Come on … if you can dream it … you can write it. (With apologies to Kevin.)

Writing is the most (good, clean, legal) fun you can have with a keyboard. Go for it!

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