Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Write what you don't know

Possibly the most given piece of advice to new writers, “write what you know.” Why? Everyone has something they are an expert in motherhood, computer programming, Civil War buff. All those things would make a great base for a story and having knowledge in them is an advantage when you start plotting.

Yet that knowledge can be a disadvantage also. When we’re comfortable we can get a little lazy, it’s just human nature. If a person knows a great deal about a subject they tend to stick within the boundaries of that knowledge. Instead of looking for an aspect or new idea that could take the story to the next level.

Taking the challenge of writing on a topic with little to no knowledge allows for a broader look at the subject. Learning something new is exciting; a person wants to know all they can about it. This lets us take in all those extra ideas and facts that could lead to writing an even better book.

Instead of working in a genre or with a subject you know try stepping out of the comfort zone and into something you know absolutely nothing about. You’ll find that new found knowledge working into old topics, giving them a new life and you a more rounded writer. 

Knowledge is power. Especially in a writers hands!

ROW80 Update
My goals on last update where to write every day and begin evil plot… um.. I mean begin plotting for rubs evil mommy hands together.

NaNoWriMo. Check on both of those fronts. I am in the learning something totally awesome for the novel phase. Researching has been a lot of fun. Especially when I can combine it with homeschool and make the kid research to,

My last goal was to get preparations ready for Lake County NaNoWriMo Kick-off. Check! We have the place, the kits are almost finished and my costume is perfect. I’m blessed with a fantastic group of writers in the Lake County region. It’s going to be a stellar NaNo 2013.

New Goals for the week:
Write every day
Finalize research
Get two articles written

How about you? Do you like to dive into unknown topics or write with a base of something you know and build on it? How is your novel prep going?


  1. I tend to walk the tightrope between what I know and what I don't. I do wander among the genres, rather than stick to one.
    Also, I may know the history of fifteenth century France, but I will write about the "little people" who have disappeared from history. I have to do tons of research about what everyday life was like for the artisans of the time.
    I love research, and usually have to force myself to climb out of the rabbit hole. Your points about stepping out of the comfort zone are good ones.

  2. I've been working on poems for each element on the Periodic Table. It's been slow moving but I haven't given up! That topic touches on history as well as science so it takes me into the unknown in several areas.

  3. It's so funny that you mention this...I was just thinking about it the other day! I really like writing about things I don't know about because then I'm not constrained by what's probable. I think that's why I gravitate toward speculative fiction: I can make it up as I go along.

    Recently I've discovered that I *hate* researching. Which is to say that I love learning things, but when I feel like I should be writing and I have to stop to go look something up, it feels like a complete waste of good creative energy.

  4. For NaNoWriMo, I'm going back to one of my favorite romantic subjects... polyamory! As in group marriage. It offers up so many great twisted complications for a romance novel.

    Of course, I have a very traditional, uncomplicated relationship that consists of one husband, one wife (me), two kids and a passel of pets. I don't KNOW polyamory, but it sure is fun to write it.

  5. Great post, Elise.

    I tend to immediately look up something I don't know, mostly Wikipedia, so that might technically break the rules =P

    I find when I do novel prep I think, I should be writing! I really have to break that habit. In fact, I'm planning to do a half day of strictly research today / tomorrow :)


    "Adventures in Self-publishing"


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