Write What You Know

Write What You Know

The meaning of the old adage Write What You Know is often discussed by writers. But what does it really mean? Does it mean you write what you know and nothing else? Does it mean literally just write what you know? And how does what you know turn into a compelling story? Is it really such a wise saying?

I’ve thought about this adage for years, always feeling there was a message in it that I needed to comprehend.

So from following my thoughts on this subject, I have shared below what I came up with. And though sharing it, it has also evolved into a writing exercise that may help you explore your inner world of thoughts. And in turn help you to find your stories.  The ones you really want to write.

Write What You Know Exercise

Think about what has effected you most in life.

  • What circumstances in your life’s journey have you encountered that impacted your life?
  • What experiences have brought you joy?
  • Is there a repetition of events in your life that effect you today?
  • What experiences have brought you sadness?

Name the above.

Examples: have you experienced:

  • Betrayal?
  • Injustice?
  • Effects of natural disasters?
  • Crime?
  • Illness?
  • Addiction?
  • Unrequited Love?
  • What else?

Now pick one of the above from your list. Really go to that place and time in your life, write about it. Write a few paragraphs, or a page, even a few pages. Put all the emotion into it that you can feel. Don’t hold back, you are writing this for you, not anyone else, keep writing.

When the writing is completed, you will then understand that you KNOW about your given experience. You KNOW what it felt like. You KNOW what you went through. You KNOW how you coped and how you did not cope. And you were able to communicate that through words on the page.

So could you write a story, not about you and your experience, but how a character, that you create, could have lived an experience (you experienced)?

This is writing What You Know!!

And because you have first-hand experience of the event, and the FEELING of that event, you will be able, through your choice of language and words, communicate in depth this character’s experience. 

Because you are WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW!

Happy Creative Writing!

Sin a bhfuil anois. (that’s it for now)

Irene G.

The Creative Writer’s Workshop
The Memoir Writing Club

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