Writer Life Lesson #5: Write What You Know

Whether you are new to writing, or have been writing for decades, you have some knowledge. You know what you do, who you are, and what you write. Just as no two people can write the exact same novel, there are no two people that have the same exact knowledge base. Why not use that to your advantage as a writer?

This week’s lesson is: Write What You Know

Write something you know about, so you don’t have to do as much research in the first draft. Write something you can be knowledgeable about, so you don’t accidentally write you into a corner, and start over again. You don’t even have to know everything about the topic, but it interests you and you have what I like to call “TV Knowledge”.

TV Knowledge is the most basic grasp of something. It’s the Law and Order version of Law, the CSI version of crime scenes, the House M.D. of medicine. It’s just enough knowledge to make a somewhat intelligent plot that could be plausible. It’s just enough information so the viewer, or in your case the reader, doesn’t get bored. It’s the knowledge dumbed down enough so readers don’t feel like they’re reading a textbook.

TV Knowledge is great to start with, for first drafts, to get your words on the page so you can fix them later. But it’s not the best for a final draft. I’m not saying you have to research every little thing, but you have to keep it believable for your genre. You have to do enough research after the first draft to make it seem believable.

There is nothing more difficult than trying to write about disseminated intravascular coagulation if you can’t even pronounce it or if you don’t even know what it is. If you know something about what you are writing, then the words can come at least a little bit easier. If you don’t have to research every other sentence, you can write easier. Sure, there will be some things that you have to research, but that’s only after the first draft is done.

First drafts are for writing. Subsequent drafts are for researching. To start out, write what you know.

As a writer for several years, I have several examples of writing what I know. One of my first novels in college, which is currently on hiatus, but is connected to my current series, was about a CNA, which is what I was at that time. I knew quite a bit about that, so I started with that, which led to a journey that started with a kiss. It was cheesy, a bit immature, and needed a lot of work, but I wrote what I knew at that time. I put my experiences and my feelings onto those pages. I made it mine. No one else could have written it the exact same way that I did, because they didn’t know all that I did. All that I do.

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There are nine types of knowledge. Every one of them can aid in writing.

So what do you know about? How does that make it’s way into your writing?

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