By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine
How many times have you heard this advice about writing? “Write what you know.”
Tom Robbins, an American novelist said, “The one thing emphasized in any creative writing course is 'write what you know,' and that automatically drives a wooden stake through the heart of imagination.” He then went on to say, “If they really understood the mysterious process of creating fiction, they would say, you can write about anything you can imagine.”
Well, today, with Google, is there anything we can’t find out about? We can put any subject in Google and research it until our heart is content. No longer are we limited to things we know or places we’ve been.
A copy writer writes advertising promotional material. In order to do their job well they have to research the company who has hired them to write the material. They also have to learn what product/products the company produces, how it’s made, what does it do, and what is it used for. By the time they finish their research they know as much about the company as the founders. Well, almost. Only then, with all this information, are they prepared and ready to write the promotional material.
It’s imperative for a writer to allow their imagination to come into their world of writing. I like to think imagination is what we turn lose and allow to soar to heights we’ve never known in reality. This is where our ideas are born, where the creative part of us forms images. With imagination, there is nothing we can’t create and bring into being.
We all have emotions we can tap into for our writing. We have experienced love, anger, hurt, loneliness, anxiety, and fear to name a few. We can dig into these emotions and pull out what we felt and write those emotions to characters we create.
If you write these feelings, your readers will feel them just as you felt them.
So is that good writing advice? To write what we know? No! Because we are unlimited in being able to learn about anything we need to know or about a place through the use of the internet.
Yes, it is good advice when you realize you’ve felt all those emotions then you can write about what you know.