Before I get started, I would just like to thank Kayelle and the gang for hosting me today and allowing me to take over the blog here for a few hours today. The invite and space is much appreciated and I look forward to chatting it up with the readers here and coming back again soon. I most thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and talking about…what I know.
It's the great debate lately it seems. Writers are going back and forth constantly on all the social networks, duking it out about some of the oldest and wisest advice I've ever been given as an author by other seasoned and intelligent authors…writing what you know.
The most prevalent argument I've seen in the great debate is that writing what you know limits one's ability to tell the story for lack of material. Ummm…I must humbly disagree with that. For a few reasons, the first being you have a lifetime of experience to draw on for material. Unless you've sequestered yourself and lived as a hermit, you have more material to draw from than you can probably shake a stick at. Actually, if I were to be brutally honest here—and as is my way occasionally I will admit—saying your stories would be limited in content for lack of material if you wrote what you knew is in my opinion a bit self-degrading. Are you saying you know so little you can't draw from your knowledge base? Please, please, writers don't do that to yourselves. Give yourselves more credit than that.
I'll help…let's make a list of common life occurrences we can draw from and I'll share a list of my perhaps uncommon life occurrences and maybe you'll begin to see that writing what you know can be so easy if you just let it be. Here goes. Common life occurrences: being bullied (who hasn't been?), lived through puberty, dated the worst guy possible, dated the best guy possible, dated the worst girl possible, dated the best girl possible, visited a zoo, visited a museum, visited a circus, have been out to dinner, have attended at least one formal function, graduated—in some cases more than once—from some institution or other, had child or two or a dozen, married, divorced, bought a house, drank at least one alcoholic drink and probably before you were of age, lost your virginity, survived the first kiss, gone bowling, played a musical instrument, been to a concert, hated yourself the next day, looked in the mirror and wondered who the hell was looking back…
Any of that ring a bell?
Now here are a few of my uncommon experiences at least in my opinion: lived in Okinawa, Japan, lived in four states in less than ten years, possessed driver's licenses in five states and an overseas driving permit, filed taxes federally and in three states in one year—yes it was a nightmare, tried SCUBA and chickened out before the final test, slept in the floor of the Seattle airport overnight waiting for a transport overseas—most uncomfortable, accidentally ate horse meat thanks to a "friend" who thought it was quite amusing…
You see writing what you know doesn't mean you need to be a brain surgeon. It means you need to be human with human experiences to draw from. Which brings me to another reason I disagree with the assessment that to write what we know would be limiting our material. How many of us are brain surgeons? **cue crickets** That's what I thought…me either. I'm a military wife in case you hadn't already figured that out from my uncommon experiences list. J So how does one write a brain surgeon if one is not?
It's so simple…research. Then you know. Writing is a learning experience as much as it is providing entertainment for others. Don't let what your know limit what you write because you can expand your what you know list every single day through research and living—which requires writers to leave their chairs and leave the confines of their homes, which I do often and enjoy it immensely…but that's a post for another day.