“Write what you know” the advice that almost every writer on this planet has heard. For some people, it’s easy to do that. But for a lot of people, this advice can be a bit challenging.
What do people mean when they say “Write what you know” Do they mean that you write your life story into your books? Do they mean write only what actually happens around you, not from what you’ve read or watched on TV?
Even now, I still sometimes get baffled from this statement. But then I realised that as a writer, lots of things capture you and inspire you to write. Like when someone annoys you, or when you read about a person who tried to make pancakes but nearly set the house on fire. There are loads of people, books, countries, languages, schools, places etc. that you already know about that can spark a story
Frankly, I don’t think J. K. Rowling knows about how it feels like to be a wizard, but then, who does?, but she clearly knew about school, bullying, different teachers and many other things that she could incorporate into her stories. That’s why the Harry Potter books are so popular. I know Rachel Coker has never been orphaned before, but she was clearly aware of how painful death can be and adjusting to new environments, so she weaved those ideas into an American WW2 setting. It’s a reason why so many people love Interrupted: Life Beyond Words.
Did you notice a common pattern in the two examples? Each author chose relatable subjects and used them as a basis for an amazing story. And for what they didn’t know, they did some research from observation, from books and whatever random way that they found something interesting.
So what do people mean when they say ‘Write what you know?’ To put it simply, finding topics, (people, anything) that inspire you to write something. It means that you can find relatable topics and weave them into a story in a different setting, different characters with an intriguing plotline that keeps the readers wanting to find out more.
And if you don’t know about something, e.g. living in France, not being a Christian, living WW2, you can do some research. The internet is now on almost everyone’s fingertips, so it isn’t as tricky as it used to be.
How about you?
Where do you find your inspiration?