“Write What You Know.”//Best or Worst Advice?!

“Write what you know.”

I’ve heard this piece of advice countless times. And I still don’t understand it. What if I write about things I don’t know? Does that mean my writing will be bad? And if I do write what I know, how does that help me?

Even after years of hearing people say this, I can’t decide if this is the best advice ever or the worst advice ever. Let’s get to discussing!

Say It Dont Spray It

I’m a naturally argumentative curious person. Meaning, that when I first heard “write what you know,” my mind immediately began to whirl. What about J.K. Rowling? What about Rick Riordan and Cassandra Clare and any other fantasy author out there?

They didn’t write what they knew. They didn’t have boundaries. They created worlds. And their books are some of the most well-known and well-loved novels ever!

But then I think about all the realistic fiction books I love. The authors drew from their own experiences to make their stories wonderful, and a lot of the time they’ve succeeded.

So I ask myself, should I write what I know?

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…and I don’t know. I thought if I wrote a blog post about it, discussing some of the pros and cons and what it really means to write what you know, I might come to a few conclusions. Highly unlikely, but possible. 😉

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So, There Are A Lot of Pros to Writing What You Know:

Now that I’m sitting here considering it, I can see a bunch of advantages for writing what you know. Especially when it comes to realistic/historical fiction.

  • Have you ever tried to write about a culture other than your own? I have, and it’s reallllly difficult. Without professional research or fact-checkers (I have access to neither of those), it’s likely you’ll get something wrong.
  • The same goes for writing about a different family situation than your own, different job than your own, etc.
  • Oh! And nothing is harder than trying to write about a country you’ve never been to. I speak from experience.
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  • If you write what you know, then you know for sure that you’ve got it right. You know you’ve captured exactly how it feels to __________.
  • Writing things you have experience with and are knowledgeable about completely enhances your writing!

As you can see, writing what you know isn’t always a bad thing- it definitely has some good qualities that are worth noting. 🙂

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And Then There Are Some Cons:

Writing what you know does have some downsides. Following this advice strictly might not always end well.

  • It can stifle your creativity! I mean, of course J.K. Rowling didn’t write what she knew. She completely created her own world.
  • Sometimes you want to explore something new. I often want to write about things that I personally haven’t experienced.
  • DO YOU THINK EVERYONE WANTS TO READ NONFICTION ALL THE TIME.
  • I also think that it can be perfectly fine to make something up, or think about things in a different way. 😀

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I’m Considering That There Can Be Some Overlap in This. 

Writing this out has lead me to believe that this isn’t all black and white. Maybe, this advice should be taken with a few limitations in mind.

  • It could depend on the genre. For example, write what you know when it comes to realistic fiction. But with fantasy, give yourself creative freedom.
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**(This gif represents many things. The creative freedom you’ll have, and also that this IS MY FAVORITE MUSICAL EVER GO WATCH IT NOW.)**

  • Really, writing isn’t supposed to have a bunch of rules. So why follow ones you don’t have to?

Of course, I was able to list out pros and cons for writing what you know. There are advantages and disadvantages. But the most important thing to remember is that you are in charge of what advice you do or don’t take. 😉

My final conclusion is that “write what you know” is neither the best or worst advice. (Well, that really clears it up, Olivia.) It’s advice put out there for good reasons that can be applied with wonderful results…but can also be ignored, with equally good results.

What do you think? Do you take this advice, not take it, or are you somewhere in the middle (like me)? Oh, and do you love the Sound of Music just as much as I do? I’d love to chat with you- see you in the comments!

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P.S. Thanks for all of your support on my 1st birthday post last week! I really appreciate all of your sweet comments.😊 Thanks to everybody who commented, we broke my commenting record! Woohoo🎉

ALSO…you may have noticed I updated my theme! I know I just recently updated, but some of the features (particularly the menu button on mobile) weren’t my favorite so I basically clicked on every. theme. in the WordPress theme library until I settled on this one. 😉

P.P.S. Bonus post coming later this week- stayed tuned!

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8 thoughts on ““Write What You Know.”//Best or Worst Advice?!

  1. Ooh, this is a super interesting post! I actually tend to take “write what you know” in different ways: when talking about cultures and rep and stuff like that, it’s totally a huge part in the physical, but when it gets into fantasy and worldbuilding, I think it’s more of writing the messages and themes that you’ve experienced personally into the book — less physical stuff and more thematic concepts. But that’s just me lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. you brought up some very great points!! I love discussion posts like these because they really get you thinking.

    it’s so much harder (and definitely much scarier) to write about something you’re unfamiliar with, especially when it pertains to a completely different way of living. I feel like if you DO decide to take that route, like you said, it’s definitely best to constantly research, fact-check, & have friends from that culture look over your writing. diversity and representation is so, so important, but it has to be done well or else there’s really no point! 😀

    for fantasy worlds, I feel like you have a lot more free rein because although you might be inspired by certain cultures, you’re essentially building your own world from scratch. which, in itself, is also a very daunting task. :0

    overall, I feel like “write what you know” isn’t the best advice for everyone. sometimes, it’s best to step out of your comfort zone, though of course it varies from writer to writer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Hannah! 🙂

      Yes, definitely. I feel like in the genre of realistic and historical fiction, you either have to write what you know or be very careful about what you write! Like you said, diversity is important but has to be done right.

      Thanks for sharing your opinions! I really appreciate your comment.😊

      Liked by 1 person

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