Is “Write What You Know” All You Should Do?

When I first started writing, I was told to write what I knew about. Since I’d spent so much time in the legal field, a lot of my characters were either lawyers or members of law enforcement. I knew there was so much more I was interested in than just the law, and I wanted the opportunity to write about those things. The question was: could I write about what I didn’t know?

Did it really matter if I hadn’t been to Egypt? Couldn’t I learn about the Emerald Isle? Was it possible I could immerse myself in the knowledge so I could write intelligently about different places, different cultures, and different occupations?

I believed I could so I branched out, bought books, searched the Internet, visited places I’d never thought I’d go, and even did things I never thought I’d do all in the interest of research. But I had to force myself to break out of the mold of the tried and true which wasn’t easy.

My knowledge of the law came easily to me. I’ve loved it since I was a young girl, and it was all I wanted to do…until I started writing. Then I wanted my characters to experience so much more than the inside of a court room. And now, through my research, they can. I just had to be willing to take a chance and to really devote myself to the learning process.

While writing what you know can be comfortable, wanting to write about what you don’t know forces you to learn, to grow in knowledge, and when you think about it, isn’t it better to keep learning in life?




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