What do you know about yourself? What have you seen? Where have you lived?
These are what I believe is meant by, Write What You Know.
Only you have lived your life, only you have done the things you’ve done. These are the breaths on the wind, the muse whispering in your ear.
The things you’ve done with your life are unique, because only you’ve experienced them. No one else has lived your life, and because no one has seen life through your eyes, no one can write what you can.
There are famous writers who’ve employed this with great success: Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms, Mark Twain and though he’s done other books, Neil Gaiman.
Neil’s most recent adult book, Ocean at the End of the Lane, the book is one of his most personal, as it takes place on the lane and in the house he grew up in.
Each writer incorporates their lives into their writings. This is what, Write What You Know, means.
- Make a list of places you’ve traveled to.
- List interesting people you’ve met, they don’t have to be famous. You only had to find them interesting when you met them.
- Write down the big things that happened, good or bad, in your life.
- Make a list of people you’ve lost, and learn about who they are.
From the above lists you should be able to write a story which is both original–because it’s from your point of view–and people would like to read.
Remember only you’ve lived your life, no one else. No one has seen life from your point of view. Write only what you know, only what you’ve seen.
Use imagery from your childhood, your teenage years and your early adulthood. There is always a story, if you only look for it.
Are you writing what you know? Answer in the comments.