Whether we’re talking about blogs, non-fiction books, or novels, one of the most crucial elements in making it compelling to readers is authenticity. When something is written from your deepest truth; when you’ve put your heart and passion into it, the reader can tell. In my mind, this is another way of saying, “Write what you know.”
Most people take “write what you know” literally, meaning you can only write about situations with which you’re personally familiar. But in my opinion, that’s a limiting way to approach it.
Write what you know means write from a deep place. Be honest. Don’t write from the surface. Whether you’re writing about parenthood or cancer or expanding your social media platform… be real. Be passionate. Write what you truly believe. Fiction or non-fiction, it’s important to write from the depth of who you are.
Don’t reflect what you know from other people or from movies or TV shows… write what you know from your own inner life. Write your truth.
Writing What You Know… in Fiction
When writing a novel, the plot and the research can come from your head, but the deeper truths of a great story come from a different place. Some might say the heart. I say, wherever you find the most “real” part of you.
You can take your characters into all kinds of worlds, real or imaginary. You can write about different kinds of people, families, relationships, occupations, time periods. Maybe you haven’t personally experienced any of those, so some might say you don’t “know” them. But when you write what YOU know to be true in terms of real motivations, real conflicts, real depth, real emotions… you are writing what you know, and you will connect with readers. Your story will feel authentic.
So, write what YOU know. This is where your originality and uniqueness will come from. Your experience of life is different from anyone else’s.
And, write what you KNOW. Not what you think, or what you’ve heard. Write what your gut tells you is the truth.
Do you write what you know? Is this approach to it different from how you’ve thought of it before?
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