Write What You Know | Discussing "Bad Writing Advice" Part 3

by - September 20, 2019


How many of you have heard the advice "write what you know"? If you're going to write something, you ought to know a lot about it. That's just logical, right?

In today's post, we're going to examine this advice a little further. Is it good advice? Bad advice? Should we follow it?

WHY THIS IS GOOD WRITING ADVICE

"Write what you know" is really good advice. I read a series of historical fiction books that were so well-written that I KNEW the author studied well on these things. The books came to life, and they were hard to put down!

If you write non-fiction, this works the same way.

If you're going to write about something, you need to know about it. Your experience and/or knowledge of the said topic will greatly benefit your writing.

WHY THIS IS BAD WRITING ADVICE

There are some writers who take this advice literally. Since we modern people don't have much experience with milking cows or traveling on a covered wagon (at least I don't), can we write about them? (And what happens to historical fiction??)

If I took this advice literally, I wouldn't be able to write about a little cabin in the woods (don't get me started on that song XD), or my amazing characters in my novels wouldn't exist (that would be so sad).

IS THIS GOOD OR BAD WRITING ADVICE?

Don't take "write what you know" literally. This advice DOES NOT mean you can't research your topic and find out more information about it. In fact, you learn a lot while doing this.

But I would definitely recommend listening to this advice. If you don't know much about your topic, be sure to research it before you write about it! It will greatly benefit you, your writing, and your readers.

WHAT'S THE MAIN POINT BEHIND "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW"?

The main point behind this advice is this: Don't write about things you don't know about. Write about the things you do know about, even if that means doing some research. (And of course, you aren't going to know every little detail.)

Don't be afraid to step into the unknown. Sure, you might not know much about milking cows, but hey, someone near you might! Or the Internet will help you out. ;)


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what about you?

What are your thoughts on this advice? Is this good or bad advice for YOU as a writer?

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2 comments

  1. This was GOOD! I love how you explained this! I tend to say that I write what I know, since I write about the Army, although I don't know what it's like to be deployed. This was really encouraging, that that's exactly how I should be writing!

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