The internet is a fantastic resource for everything you need to know about anything. Here’s the good news: there are ways you can write what you don’t know and still get the details right. Do you write what you know? From our very first endeavors in creative writing, we’re told to write what we know. Software programs can help. Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. Do you typically write about the same type of character? Little blobs, amoeba ideas, floating around in your subconscious will meet, join, split and multiply. If you are researching Pakistan, you can plug “Pakistan” into Amazon and get a list of several books, but mainstream books are often written at the macro level of political and cultural features, and fiction writers often need a peak at the micro level: real people, living real lives. My point is this: write what you know, when you have the freedom and capacity to do so. 4 min read. People love to talk and they’ll tell you things you could not possibly have imagined. “Write what you know” is a phrase that has been following me since I started studying creative writing during my undergraduate years. When you’re prospecting, you’re not sure what you’ll find, or where you’ll find it. As nonfiction writers, we’re proud of our fealty to the truth. You’re looking for inspiration and for whatever gifts the universe might give you. Never shy away from contacting publishers and writers directly. It encourages you to move beyond your comfort zones in search of stories. I have never run or worked in a naturist resort, still I write about it in the Naked Crow books. Read authoritative books on topics related to your subject. The question was about description and world building, and she said something that was just brilliant. From our very first endeavors in creative writing, we’re told to write what we know. But we can challenge our imaginations and think differently by writing what we don’t know. Too many beginning authors get paralyzed by this: "But I don't know … But don’t we usually interpret it as, write what you already know? Unless you want to invest the necessary time researching and reading about this community, then, it seems a recipe for disaster. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Writing what you don't know and doing it in an informed and imaginative way is what makes the process worthwhile. If it’s a minor detail, even leave a gap in your piece and look it up later to avoid the distraction. We don’t make things up. Share 1. There’s nothing easier and more fun and rewarding than that. I took up the task of researching from afar in a spirit of experimentation and learned that it was like most undertakings—you have to pick two: cheap, good, or fast. But most of all write what you’d rather not know’. Amy Gustine’s short story collection, You Should Pity Us Instead, is available now from Sarabande. Haven’t you been writing a free-flowing draft every day? (Okay, maybe a little.) We shouldn’t bother about other people at all when we write. If you build a habit of writing every day by transcribing your thoughts, you won’t have an ideas shortage. For example the combination of “women” “Pakistan” “living” “conditions” and “middle-class” turns up a paper that cites an article in Contributions to Indian Sociology. This is equally true of readily available and obscure sources. Use that fabulous imagination of yours, the same one you tap into for any type of writing. Don’t worry about making your story match everything you’ve heard, researched, or witnessed. But don’t turn away a project just because you don’t know anything about the topic. He Has Collaborated On A Group Novel, Caverns,By the Pseudonymous O. U. Levon. Have you ever tried writing what you don’t know? The literary Internet’s most important stories, every day. Find the universal truth that makes us all human by writing the emotion you know. The grunt work of research and rewriting can come later. — and others who tout: Write what you know. Instead, I resolved to find out what I could achieve with research. I’ve never had the experience of running into dinosaurs and giant lizards, and again, in Naked Crow that happens. Your imperfections you may show, It may be difficult to hide that scar. It must have been projecting an image of the flag the day Google drove by. Consider media such as documentaries and music albums. Every writer has heard the adage: write about what you know. Write what you know can also just mean that you write from the heart, and that you put across thoughts and emotions on the page that you are familiar with, and know well. One overlooked source is the work of sociologists. Don’t want to go overboard and ruin the meal, but if you do it just right you’ll leave the reader with a taste for more. All fiction writers, especially genre writers, end up having to write what they don't know. We write, I … Identify which type of research you are doing and make sure that you don’t get derailed. Still, you’ll often have to buy these more specialized, academic works. Write What You Don't Know. I challenge you to finish them. People love to talk about their professions and passions. When you want to know something like whether there are paved roads in Uzbekistan’s small villages or what the texture of a palm tree’s trunk is like, include image searches, Google Earth, YouTube and other graphic sources in your repertoire. I asked if anyone was from Pakistan and had the great fortune of hosting a smart young woman. It’s inexpensive, powerful, well supported by its makers, and specifically designed for book writers. They told me that in the years between my character’s visits, new roads and parking lots had been built, trees had been planted, sightlines changed. However, the well-known axiom may prove to be lacking when a client calls on you to create quality content concerning a topic about which you … Continue reading "How to Write what you DON’T Know" Examine your results carefully, freeze-framed and magnified when possible. There are some things you can’t know until you write about them. Write what you don’t know. It’s just $35/month and there’s no … I'm working on a Dragon/human story. Posted on June 21, 2011 by Michael Traven 90% of writing books and advice columns use the same old phrase “Write what you know.” I understand the general thought behind this cute little trope, but it doesn’t hold water for me. If it motivates you to write a story, then do it. Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash. And doing a little research never hurt anyone. The first type of question leads to what I call “mining,” targeted research to locate something you know exists. There’s so much richness there. My problem is that for plot reasons, I need one of my characters to grow up in a culture and environment I am not familiar with. Same with Killing Rommel. I might use a hobby to develop his character.). Write What You Don't Know ~ Melanie Dobson Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of twenty historical, time-slip, and suspense stories including Hidden Among the Stars, Catching the Wind, and Chateau of Secrets. Write what you don’t know (yet) One of the most common, and most commonly quoted, pieces of advice to writers is to ‘write what you know’, a line generally attributed to Mark Twain. You know, the fun part of the job. The second type is “prospecting,” or reading, listening and looking at things to learn about a culture/place/era/job, etc. Even The War of Art was a flyer for me. “Write what you know” is an idiom in the creative writing world as common as “show, don’t tell.” These nuggets of writing advice are well meaning, but sometimes, advice without explication can be as useless as a bag of potpourri in a landfill. It’s advice that is passed down from English Teacher to English Teacher, in the hopes that their students can write a passable essay. We’ve heard it over and over: write what you know. Research. But what if you want to go beyond your expertise? Or, if we do make things up, we employ the deftness and elegance of … Write What You Don’t Know. Did Melville fight a white whale? Mark Twain — ‘Write what you know.’ To see what your friends thought of this quote, please sign up! I don’t think that’s good advice at all. On the surface, this is contradictory advice, but it is still true. It’s important writing because it’s part of a permanent record and it lives on the internet forever. Same with Killing Rommel. Don’t worry about making your story match everything you’ve heard, researched, or witnessed. When I was in Chicago, I walked down to the building that holds the Asylum Office and discovered that what I’d seen on Google images (a huge American flag above the front lobby’s desk) was actually an immense screen. Don’t worry about what you don’t know—imagine, create, and make it up as you go! That’s the fun of writing what you don’t know! It's perfectly good advice. When you see no friend, just a foe, And loneliness creeps on you like never before. Be patient and open. I like Scrivener. Viewed 566 times 9. ‘I don’t know how to write,’ I replied. When I wanted to send my characters on a romantic vacation, I chose Puerto Rico and took the couple on a moonlight kayak trip in a bioluminescent bay because I had done the same thing a few years earlier and retained detailed notes on the trip. Write what you don’t know. Of course, that’s a good start for any writer—sit down and write something you’re familiar with. If I hadn’t been going to Chicago, I could have asked a friend who lives there to take pictures of the building’s lobby, but don’t restrict yourself to friends. If this isn’t your thing, then come up with an alternative, but keep in mind that the more research you do, the more you need some way to organize the material so you can find it and use it. Be sure to note the date of any images and videos you find so you don’t introduce unintentional anachronisms. To me, it seems like a shame to say that creative people can only create art about people just like them. How to Write About Something You Know Nothing About. You don’t have to know it all when you begin whatever you’re writing. The idea panics them for two reasons. Pin. The more money you are going to spend, the more research you should do. If you want to break out of a writing rut, take a look at your past and present work. Be sure to double-check facts if they are critical, especially if they might be controversial. Research: If you want to write about something you aren’t familiar with, research is a good starting point. Google search for garden clubs in your area and contact them. Confidence for a writer is a fleeting thing, so any time that you have it is a comforting time. I say bull. It began as a dare to myself, and also a kind of surrender to life’s limitations. Write what you feel needs to be written. But some minds can’t help but stray. To tell you the truth: I love doing that. I’ve been thinking about this since I wrote my recent novella That’s Ms. Santa. Write What You Don’t Know Written by David Berkowitz Posted on October 19, 2020 November 26, 2020 Less than 0 min read Last week , I wrote about why service providers should consider the Service as a Product (SaaP) model, and it sparked some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had that stemmed from this newsletter. How to Write What You DON’T Know and Not Offend EVERYONE. There’s nothing wrong with that, but by getting outside my comfort zone, I open myself up to discover something new and fresh and fun. But also, you say “unfinished posts and ideas”. My mother used to run a business managing rental property. Writing what you don’t know. One day I decided to stop letting fear prevent me from trying to write certain stories, specifically the fear of not knowing things. About That Wave of Anti-Racist Bestsellers Over the Summer... How John Le Carré Reinvented the Spy Novel, The Most Iconic Crime Movies Set During Christmas, The Night Jacqueline Winspear Helped Her Father Steal a Christmas Tree, When "Normal" People Snap: The Unnervingly Universal Potential for Violence. Jacobs. I knew nothing about the Bible before I started writing 'The year of Living Biblically'. Write what you don’t know. I often find myself writing about characters like me: 20-something women living in the Midwest in the present time. You should also try to write about things that you know little or nothing about. This phrase would be echoed to death while I pursued my MFA, and don’t get me wrong, it’s great advice, but it’s also the mostobvious advice you could give someone. One of the standard pieces of advice given to beginning writers is to "write what you know." WRITE WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. When you write, you transmit information on a topic that you know well. They are then cast off on an adventure (I know this probably sounds very cliche) and it goes off in any direction. On Writing What You Don’t Know. I attract that. Personal blogs, online support groups, organizations’ websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and PDF’s of conference materials posted online aren’t necessarily written to provide the researcher with information, and they may not always serve well for academic sourcing, but for fiction writers they are a goldmine. This is a good reminder to verify online research whenever possible. Active 1 month ago. By Sarah Penner. Writing what you don’t know is hard, and screwing it up is easy, and most authors really don’t want to accidentally write something harmful. We all write what we know - how could we not? Don’t write what you know. That’s the first problem. The last point is: Don’t Write What You Know. Don't be afraid to write about something you know littel about. But while writing what you know is definitely useful in one sense, writing what you don’t know can be just as rewarding. There are a lot of ways to organize information, but you need to pick one and stick with it throughout your project. You obviously love to write, so I encourage you to keep writing, and I think in time what you love to write and your love for writing will come together with such force the world will take notice. Why don’t you know what to write? "Write What You Don't Know" is a friendly manual for aspiring screenwriters. 1 Shares. You might be wondering: if I don’t know about the person, place, or plot, how do I write about it? Art of black dragon writing by Ciruelo Cabral None of us … If you’re ready to deepen your writing practice, you’ll want to join my brand-new membership community, Write Yourself Free. So don’t write what happened. He winged it. Many other countries publish news in English, such as Pakistan’s Dawn. You don’t have to know all about the world of S&M to write a good story about it. Don’t worry about writing what you know – write in order to know. Write what you don’t know. Welles actually went to the moon? They were mostly about political events, however by paying attention to the incidental details of culture and setting, and listening carefully to the quotes of everyday people interviewed, I learned a lot about the country that was not the focus of the article and these things were often clues I followed up that led to other rooms of knowledge. I don’t know much about the future beyond the gloom and doom scenarios but I like to write about it. I have friends who are teachers, speech therapists, wild life biologists, who work at homeless shelters and manage financial affairs for mentally ill people. However, Ken Kesey, author of amongst other things the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – used to tell young writers “Don’t write what you know, but write what you don’t know. 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Go back to work a fleeting thing, so we have many choices as writers that deal with,... World building, and the ideas will grow are plenty of other media as.. Experience and learn things books and articles never mention be fast, but you don ’ t stress much the... First endeavors in creative writing during my undergraduate years taught Him good starting point English speakers lucky... Ll often have to have sex with the same location or time?. Results carefully, freeze-framed and magnified when possible we ’ re finished, post your practice the! Professions and passions was re-listening to this interview Mike Dillard did with pro copywriter Craig Clemens information a! Three ways to organize information, but I warned you: art never is nothing easier and more and... We employ the deftness and elegance of signal phrases ask question asked 4 years 7... It seems like a shame to say that creative people can only create art about people just like.! More research you are interested in the adage: write what you ’ ll it.