Write What you Know
This is what all the literary greats pack into their heavily sought after advice.
T.S. Elliot wrote “Home is where one starts from”. This could mean that in order to write well, for words to carry meaning and for them to serve the writer value, that writers should write from the heart, that writers should not be afraid of diving into the stormy seas of their deepest fears, or climbing up through the mountainous range of hope that carries them whilst weighed down by unrelenting miss-fortune. That writers should look fear in the eye, should hold fast to emotions that connect to a given moment – and write.
This is a writer’s material. Using what you know allows you to write with emotion and take readers on a realistic journey they can relate to. Where your story ends, sometimes, is of no matter, as it was the journey, the climb, or the dive that was always, always the most important part.
Whether you choose to write for publication or for personal evaluation or as an outlet for creativity, writing should never be a chore. However, having heard this from many writers over many decades, before putting pen to paper or fingertips to keys the very idea of writing can be a chore, the very notion of coming to grips with your hearts knowledge and wisdom and allowing it to be free on paper or screen can be off putting, exhausting even. Some writers will do anything and everything to avoid sitting and writing. The dishes need tending to. The washing needs hanging out. The DVD collection that no one uses anymore needs sorting into alphabetical order. Yet, as soon as pen hits paper or fingertips tap keys and words begin to flow and emotion joins, it’s as if both are wild horses galloping along an empty stretch of beach, running free, breathing in space and enjoying the hearty exercise.
What you know is the essence of your Being and the fruit of your personality. Acknowledging this and using it to your advantage will help you harness a voice that is believable, a trustworthy narrator, if you like. Characters, whether fictional or otherwise, will be written with depth and plausibility. Feelings, emotions and behaviours with realistic flair. It doesn’t matter if you feel that what you have to draw from is boring or if you think it’s the same as what every other writer is writing. The difference is – it’s your story.
No two stories are ever the same. Every story is different in some way. You are unique and whether you write for yourself or write for a wider audience, what matters is that you don’t allow self-doubt, self-esteem or lack of confidence to ever stop you from putting pen to paper or fingertips to keys – because you never know where that might lead. It may amount to a publishing deal or it may amount to a greater understanding of yourself, and in some ways, the latter is of equal value, if not more. Being at one with yourself is something money can’t buy. Yet, it’s something you may find if you allow yourself the time to write, to grow and to learn. If you have characters roaming around your head looking for a way to voice their opinions and tell their stories, then begin. Listen to what they have to say, have a conversation with them, even. It could be the start of a marvellous journey.
Let’s close with the wisdom of a literary great.
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”
– T.S. Elliot