No matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, blog posts, do-it-yourself articles, advice columns, short stories or novels, you might have heard that one piece of advice all through your weeks, months or years of writing: “Write what you know.”
When I heard that for the first time I had immediate thoughts on what I know!
I know how to cook frozen Pizza.
I know how to not starve because I ordered a huge pack of ramen noodles in all kinds of flavours.
I know how to sleep for a long time.
I know how to take a shower without breaking my neck – 37 years of study in that subject proof that.
I know how to binge watch TV-Shows and movies.
I know how to avoid doctor visits when I really “don’t wanna”.
I know many many things more, but let’s be honest: Nobody wants to read a book about that. Well actually I’d die to read a book about it, but I might not be a big market all on my own.
After eliminating all these useful, elaborate skillsets the question remained: What do I write about?
Writing fiction might be a tad easier on that because you don’t have to go into the depths of a subject too much, but you still need to know what you are talking about. Maybe the whole ‘Write what you know’ does not only mean the experiences or your degree you have in a field.
Instead, make sure that you research the hell out of something you want to write about. Writing paranormal stories with demons and vampires? Study the lore. Writing a story that plays in the Tudor era? Read about it, the life, language, customs, important events and what have you. (Coincidentally that is what I’m doing at the moment.) Want to write for a woman but you’re a bloke and have no idea about that? Study women, read magazines, talk to them and ask what they’d do. If your character goes through a life-changing event and you have no experience with that said event, chat with folks who’ve gone through it.
There are many ways to research and accumulate knowledge about what you are writing about. So go ahead, dig in and then “write what you know”.
What is it you are writing about? How did you get to know about it and got more insight? Was it easy? Exciting? Boring (if so why the heck did you want to write about boring stuff?) Share your experiences and tell me more right down in the comments.