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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.

Here’s how:

  • 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.

Street at night
No, the thing is, we all love storytelling, and as a writer you get to tell stories all the time.
Joyce Carol Oates
A story can come from anywhere.
The man at the bus stop with the sad face, why is he sad? The woman at the mall, her kids looking at her with frustration and anger as they’re dragged through the mall. What is going on with them?
There are also the dreams.
Waking from a ultra-visual dream and having a notebook on a bedside table to write it down, that’s one of the best things.
Storytelling and the visuals you see in each moment of the story–from the opening to The End–requires the writer to be creative at times with the writing, these moments can make or break the storytelling.
Look at your favorite books. Does the story pull you in immediately? Does the story take you to places you were expecting, or does it revisit old tropes?
When our species was young, we learned about things through stories told from travelers. They could be about anything, but those stories were written on cave walls for others to see. Because the stories were written down we know those people existed. We may not completely understand the stories, but through the drawings we get the gist of the story.
From ancient wall carvings to the newest thriller, storytelling is part of heritage.
Every story we tell, like the cave paintings of our ancestors, lives forever. One day someone will pick up a book, read a blog or tweet and learn about us.
What they read should be something wonderful. Write what you want to write, never write what the market is, you’ll like the writing better and enjoy the process more.
Show them great storytelling!

Delusions of...

I like the idea of trying to write a book in every genre.

China MIÉVille

Our idea of what our writing should be is covered up by labels.

These labels aren’t what we want, but a way for publishers to place our work in the market.

Each of us write different genres, but these genres shouldn’t limit who we are as writers.

Are we a Fantasy writer with their epic worlds and magical places?

Or possibly, a YA writer, creating worlds for teenagers to escape from reality and possibly discover someone in fiction who’s going through the same struggles they’re going through?

Then again, maybe your a Science Fiction writer, creating marvelous technology and doing amazing things in the future or some place among the stars.

Being any of these is great, but being the writer you want to be is more important than being classified as one genre or another.

Many writers write in different genres. Neil Gaiman has written children’s books, adult books, YA and comics. Stephen King may be the king of horror, but his Dark Tower series is fantasy.

Never let anyone tell you what you should write.

Even if you’re published, you can always write genres other than what you’re known for, even if you have to keep them to yourself for a while.

Writing is about discovery. Find the right story for you, whatever it is.

The genre isn’t as important as good writing.

Don’t define your writing by a genre classification, let others do that. Just write!

What’s your favorite genre to write? Answer in the comments.

Alley in the Dark

Alley in the Dark

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.  ~Joseph Campbell

We fear things because we’ve been conditioned to do so.

All our lives we’ve been told, “They’re different, you shouldn’t talk to them.” or “That food is weird, you shouldn’t try it.”

The problem with this is we find ourselves stuck fearing everything. Whatever happens in our lives we discover that there’s a fear attached to it.

Writing is a major fear for a lot of writers, not because we’re afraid to write, it’s because we’re afraid of our writing not being as good as it could be, or it not being as strong as we’d like it to be.

We sit at our desk writing and the fear of poor prose can stop us from writing. Doubt of our own abilities can kill a writer’s confidence which in turn will kill a writer’s imagination.

Getting through our fear of not living up to our own abilities will make us stagnant or worse yet lead us down the path of forgetting why we started writing in the first place.

You should keep a list of reasons why you started writing:

  1. Make sure this list is visible when you’re writing.
  2. Create a desktop wallpaper with the list on your computer.
  3. This list can be something you share with those close to you, or not. If you tell them why you write, they may be more inclined to support your efforts.

Fear management is the best thing you can do for your creativity. Keeping your fears in check will keep you writing and will make your supporters more willing to help you.

Like the quote at the start of this post, fear of doing things in your writing will lead you away from your goals, even if you write for yourself and don’t plan on publishing, fear will create the negativity that keeps you from finishing a story, book or poem.

Don’t fear entering the cave, run through it screaming, searching for the treasure you earned from writing.

Are you afraid of entering the cave? Answer in the comments.

A deluded mind is one that believes things that are not real.

Always be under the assumption that your mind is not to be believed.

Belief in your abilities is something that only you can have. Others will follow you eventually, but for the immediate future, your abilities are your own.

It takes time to do the things your life needs from you and don’t be delusional.

Have not delusions about who you are, what you can do and whether others will follow you.

Make these things clean:

  • Your prose
  • The motives behind what you’re doing
  • Your candidness

Your life is your own, but your mind is creating the delusions of what you can and can’t do.

Control the delusions of your mind and you control what your life can be.

The belief that your mind is under your control and not something autonomous will make your life, your writing and everything around you better.

Control of your thoughts will create a belief in others that you never thought possible.

These are the things your life needs to be yours:

  1. Ignore the delusions of your mind.
  2. Embrace the belief that you control your mind.
  3. Create belief in others by believing yourself.

To believe in yourself is the greatest gift you can give to the world. Never stop believing in what you can do.

Are your delusions of who you are causing your life to not be your own? Answer in the comments.