Write What You Know?
There is no mystery to writing. There is no secret formula to write a best seller. All you need is an idea. A spark of inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. While you sit there you recall something you heard in connection to writing: Write what you know. You scratch your head, thinking to yourself: Write what I know? Well, my day job is an accountant, I’m single, and have three cats, and not in a relationship. That would be boring as hell to write about. Maybe when you put it that way, but what if you make your main character an accountant in some government run company and the MC comes across questionable accounts and expenses?
Maybe you clean places for a living and you come across something that resembles blood. Lots of blood. It’s possible someone spilled a can of red paint, but what if…?
Here’s another example: You work from home as a blogger, living in a small apartment or your parents’ basement. Someone comments on one of your blogs, revealing details about your daily life. What happens next? It’s up to you to provide the details.
You are a delivery person, having just pulled into the drive way of a house on the out skirts of town. As your vehicle approached the house, a car tore out of the drive way, barely missing your bumper. When you get to the door with the package, the screen door is ajar and it’s very quiet…
What if you are unemployed or a stay-at-home parent, or caregiver? A story can be based on a wrong number, something received in the mail or a noise you hear.
You can write what you know by using your imagination.
What ‘Write what you know’ really means
The line ‘Write what you know’ actually refers to emotions you have experienced through your life and allowing these emotions to enter into your writing. Emotions a reader can relate to. When a writer can make me laugh out loud, cry, or become angry, I know they drew on their own emotions for these feelings and placed them in the story. They made me feel what they felt and they weren’t afraid to do that. You need to do the same when you are writing your story.
A way to learn about emotions in writing is through personal essays. They may never see the light of day as a published piece, but you can use them as a reference if you are stuck in your story. Reading a particular essay for a particular emotion can bring it to the forefront of your mind, allowing you to tap into that emotion for a scene you are working on.
Without emotion in your stories, the reader has a hard time relating to the protagonist and the other characters. Your characters are real to you in your mind, so make them real to the reader. Don’t hold back, let yourself bleed or cry onto the page. Show how the character is feeling in a particular scene, don’t tell it.
Another place you can tap your emotions is events from your childhood. The loss of a pet, having to move away from your friends, attending a new school. The teen years are full of emotions: Your first true love, your first break up, your first kiss.
We are human and emotional creatures. We love, we hate, we become jealous, we grieve, and we experience great joy and the deepest sorrow. Let your characters do the same. Let your readers feel what you felt. Write what you know.
May the words ever flow!