I had often wondered about the advice that had been given to writers for who knows how long: “Write what you know.” Since this advice had been handed on from generations past, I never questioned it. Now that I am no longer a professional writer, I find it easier to go against the grain, so to speak, and question what I read and hear about the writing craft.
This is one advice I cannot now bring myself to believe. Why? Because if I wrote only about what I know, then I would be limiting myself considerably. Come to think of it, through the years that I worked as a feature writer, I never followed this advice. Thank goodness I didn’t. Otherwise, I would have lost many opportunities to explore areas of life that I knew nothing about. As a feature writer, I was always on the look-out for good story sources – and there were no limits.
If I had limited myself then to what I knew, I would have probably written only a fraction of the number of articles that I wrote – because I knew very little.
I still know very little. Each day I try to know more. That’s what this blog is all about – to explore, to discover, to learn and then to write about the interesting world of writing. If I write only what I know about writing, then this blog would have very few posts.
Here’s what writer Neil Gaiman had to say when asked what piece of advice about writing he considered false or misleading: ” ‘Write what you know’ when people use it to mean, do not imagine, do not dream, do not put yourself inside another’s head, do not make magic, do not create art that is anything or in any way outside of what you have seen or done. People know so much.”
When asked what positive advice he would give to a young writer, Gaiman replied, “Read everything. And make lots of amazing mistakes.”
Could it be that the advice had been misconstrued through the ages? Could it be that it originally meant, “explore, discover, learn – and then write?
This post was written for yeah write’s 31 dbbb challenge. Today’s task is: Write an opinion post.
Photo courtesy of Morguefile