Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Write Only About What You Know? Not So Fast!

Yes, yes, I've heard that axiom before, usually from people who can't get away from safe advice.  It can be shortsighted if one adheres to such a regimen throughout a whole writing career.

I can see where, as a new author, it makes sense to take that truism to heart.  After all, the story we are going to tell is safe, predictable and keeps us within our comfort zone.  I've been there myself.  But after that first manuscript becomes a book, it's time to stretch and reach out of that pattern of coziness and reach for the stars.

So how does one go about becoming authentic and delivering a "you had to be there" or you had to experience that?"  Research.  And more research.  It is important to use, if possible, primary sources as well as sources from different points of view.  A good thing can happen from that.

Something new and exciting may swirl around in your brain.  New possibilities.  New characters.  New roads.  And new journeys.  When that happens, magic occurs. We learn to have faith in our characters and to enter their worlds, well and truly enter.  It becomes one of those "you must have experienced it" moments for an author to hear from a fan.

And what can come from all this newness?  Self-knowledge, truth, a deeper delving into the human condition.  And a clearer understanding of ourselves.  After all, when we write, part comes from our souls, our experience, our psyche. 

Does that then mean we are back to writing about what we know?  Part of it, certainly, as we are a sum of our infinite parts.  But it's the journey, a studied journey, an educated journey born of solid research coupled with that indefinable kernel of originality within all of us.   

Happy researching.  And writing.  And discovering as you go.


  1. So glad you do, Margo! So important to keep on with new ideas and stories!

  2. Hi Nancy, Trying again to post. It is exciting when your characters take the story in a bit of a different direction. It's also good to research a subject then find many and more interesting facts than you had known. It helps keep writing fresh and alive. thanks for the post!

  3. Thanks for continuing to try, Penny! I got your important comment and so appreciate it.