Your writing is going slowly. You don’t know what to write on, you don’t have any idea where to set your stories or who your characters are. You’re just stuck. Someone once told you to write what you know. But what in the world does that mean? How can you do that? After all, you don’t really know that much. Or do you? Life is full of experiences, and even the most mundane can make a good story; if you know where to look. Here are five tips on writing what you know.
1. Write what you feel
Real emotion comes through on paper. Don’t write about what you think others feel, or what you are ‘supposed’ to feel. Write about how you really feel. More people than just you have felt this way, and the honest outpouring of emotion will move others much more than any surface thought. Your reactions to events are not unique to you; they resonate with others. You may just be better at expressing them. Share your feelings, and express for others what they cannot.
2. Write what you think
How you think is special, share it. Everyone thinks a little differently, express themselves differently. It is those differences that make us interesting. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions on subjects. Yes, you should try to be unbiased, but unless you’re writing news articles, don’t worry so much. A little opinion makes your work seem real and alive. Everyone loves to debate, and friendly debate brings work to life. If you have a strong belief in something, you’ll be prepared to back up your point. Stand up for what you believe in and you’ll be surprised at who supports you.
3. Write honestly
Everyone knows when you’re lying. Even if you’re writing on a topic that doesn’t interest you, try to interject a little of your own truth into it. It might just be the fact that you find the topic stupid. That’s fine, just tell us why. Not everyone will agree with you, but everyone does respect honesty.
4. Write about where you’ve been
There’s so much more to life than what pictures can convey. If you’ve really been to a city, write about it. Tell your readers what it felt like, smelled like, what the atmosphere was, the culture. It’s so much more interesting than anything you can discover on a Google search. Even the most boring places, the DMV, traffic court, your local sandwich shop, have personalities. They have emotions and atmosphere attached to them that can only be experienced in person. So, set your story somewhere you’ve actually been. The description will seep through naturally.
5. Write about what you’ve experienced
Even typical families go through unusual things. Don’t think your life is boring just because you aren’t a spy or an astronaut. Write about the real-life struggles you’ve gone through. People will relate. You may not be writing an autobiography, but you can still use the conflicts and hardships in your work. Your characters might be a different sex or race than you, even living in a different time, but they still have the same conflicts and resolutions. Use your experience to enrich your writing.
There you have it, five reasons to write what you know. It’s not all school-books and head-knowledge either. You know so much more than you think you do. You have five senses; use them all to tell your stories. How did things taste, feel, smell, sound, beyond just what it looked like? Don’t trap yourself into the vision-only. After all, you’re a writer, not a photographer.