Friday, April 30, 2010

Write What You Know - Or Not

When people ask for writing advice, they are often told to write what they know.  It's easier, they are assured.  So, what do I know?

I know how to type fast.  I know how to use a computer.  I know how to change a poopy nappy in about three seconds.  I know how to negotiate with a toddler.  I know how to give birth.  I know how to be a nagging, over protective mother.  I know how to avoid cleaning at all costs.  I know how to tell I've had enough wine before I drink too much.  I know how to force 5 a day into my kids.  I know how to guilt trip my partner into cleaning poo off a small child who has removed their poopy nappy during the night and destroyed their cot. 

I live my own life every day.  Why on earth would I want to write about it?

If I stick to what I know, I'm left with Mommy lit, pretty much.  And yes, I can write it.  I used to write semi amusing articles on what it was like to be a parent/pregnant/insane.  They went down well but again, that leaves me reliving my regular life.

For me, writing is about escaping.  Creating.  Jumping into another world.  While I might take along some of my own experiences, most of the enjoyment I get from writing is developing the fantasy, the characters and the unbelievable.

A lot of people read about lives that are far away from their own.  I like to write about lives that are far away from my own.  I've dabbled in genres that were closer to home but the problem lies in the lack of excitement for me.  I find it so hard to get excited about writing things that happen to me every day.  Throw in something supernatural, paranormal or else something that is so new to me it requires weeks of research and I'm gloriously happy.  I really love researching.

I'm not opposed to writing about things you know.  But personally, I find it a lot easier to churn out words of make believe than those soaked in truth.  If you're stuck, switch it up a bit.  All of the rules that writers seem to come up can be broken.  Pet peeve number 451 - when writers do a course/attend a lecture and spout what they've heard as gospel truth forever more.  (And get mad when you don't listen to them.)

I say, don't write about what you know (unless you really want to).  Write about what you want to know and feel free to incorporate real life experiences into that.  But don't feel pressured into sticking with one genre or another.  Creativity is freedom, so let go.

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