So everyone’s heard the old writing adage - Write What You Know. But does this Comp 101 advice help or hobble the aspiring writer?
Probably neither when you get down to it, but it could affect one’s penchant for garlic. Example: If I aspire to be the next Stephenie Meyer and write about vampires, does that mean I have to go find one? And if on the off-chance I do nab myself one of these fetching blood-sucking gents, must I really have them munch on my neck? I seriously doubt Ms. Meyer, Morman mother of three, spent copious time with vampires and yet, she’s the creator of the teenage lust truffle – Edward.
Which brings me back to my original question – do you have to write what you know?
I’m thinking not so much.
It’s like that time in the fourth grade when I had to write a research report about koala bears. Nothing against these eucalyptus enthusiasts, but I had no vested interest in my subject matter and as a result, the report was dry, lacked voice, and earned me a paltry C+. Yet when I delivered my dissertation on the Bee Gees clad in my disco jacket that same year, I oozed nothing less than fervent enthusiasm for the satiny, chest-bearing, crooning triad. (Hence, it’s no surprise that Barry, Robin, and Maurice earned me an whopping A+.)
So as far as writing adages, it might be more productive to say write what you have passion for. Through genuine passion one naturally writes with authenticity, which in the end is what all writers seek through their truth wielding pens – or laptops as the case may be. So whether it be vampires, faux fur, or ambrosia Jell-o molds - think about what you really love or really hate, get your passion on, and write, baby!