Write about what you know – Discussion #2

I’ve always searched the Internet for writing advice, and the one that many people refer to and the one that confuses me the most is to write about what you know.

Whenever I see this piece of advice, I tend to disagree with it. You cannot know everything about the topic you know about, and that’s what I think the whole point of research is. Also, you don’t need to know everything about the subject you are writing about, you need room for creativity! Not only that, but you can offer a change on the subject, if you knew everything about it, it restricts the possibility of idea creation, the one thing a writer needs most!

Do you agree? Join the discussion by commenting below.

Also, don’t forget that I’m looking for your writing advice, so comment below. I’ve also recently got Google +, so please add (@LiamO’Dell).


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12 thoughts on “Write about what you know – Discussion #2

  1. I agree with you. And sometimes in our “reality TV,” “forensic show,” “Behind the scenes” addictions we have forgotten one of the elements of fiction that was always the FUN part for me as a reader: willing suspension of disbelief. I was going to try my hand at writing a serial killer type story awhile back. Then I began obsessing over whether “this woman would get caught in real life.” Would this or that have given her away “in real life.” So what?? Is there “really” a middle earth? Did Dracula “really” turn into a bat? Is quidditch a “real” game??? I think we have become so reality and fact obsessed we have forgotten to use our imaginations and get lost in a story.


    • Thanks for the comment! That a great point! Imagination is formed from things that are not real. Does Harry Potter exist. Of course not! Readers like to imagine that something which isn’t real is real.


  2. While I do agree with the fact that everyone has become fact obsessed of late, I also think there is a BIG difference between say, Harry Potter fiction and serial criminals fiction. If I’m going to read a book about crime thriller (it’s my genre of choice) I’d like it to be as close to the truth as possible. I wouldn’t want to sit there and think ‘theres no way THAT could have happened!’. Much like watching a show like that on tv. Many of them have plot holes but when you watch Lord of the Rings, well, that’s beyond fantasy so when it comes to imagination, anything goes. It’s easy to get caught up in too much research if you don’t know a lot about what you are writing. This is why people say write what you know – so you don’t spend a lot of time researching, which takes away from important writing time.


  3. I’m kind of getting bored with “writing what I know.” 🙂 I’m currently searching for new things to write about. But it’s challenging and intimidating to break out of that comfort zone.


    • Thanks for the comment! I say go for it! I’m an aspiring crime writer, and for me, they say “write what you know” for a reason.

      I think that they mean that you “write about what you know” from personal experience. Or, if you’re writing something new, the tip can be adapted to mean “write about what you know” from what you’ve researched.

      But I say go for it! Good luck! 🙂


  4. I usually use the ‘write what you know’ advice for writers who are just starting out. If you’re a 17 year old and you want to write about a 50 year old who is in prison for mass murder, I would recommend against it for a first novel. The ‘write what you know’ option gets you into writing. If the 17 year old writes about being a 17 year old doing 17 year old things, they are far more likely to get that first novel out of the way, so they can move on to the next (more complex) piece. Meanwhile, the 50 year old mass murderer can write what he or she knows about being a 50 year old mass murderer.
    Research is very important in any novel (god knows I’ve done enough in my time) and after the initial ‘first story’ it’s great to move out of your comfort zone, do that research and learn about new things – if you want to become an expert in a field, write a book about it! 😀


  5. Yes! I feel the same way you do. I can’t stand it when I hear that type of advice. A) It feels outdated B) It places a limitation on someone’s imagination. What I don’t know is a whole helluva lot more fun, plus it stretches the imagination so much more. I find that when we write what we ‘don’t know’ we begin to learn new things about ourselves and the world around us. The best book I ever read on writing was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. It was so fresh and easy to understand.


    • Thanks for the comment! Glad you agree, it does limit imagination!

      Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ve heard a lot of people talking about that book so I will definately look into it! 🙂


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