Writing about what you know

Ask a writer (any writer) for advice on the craft and chances are at some point you’ll hear the age-old adage “write about what you know.” In other words, write about what you (not someone else) have learned and experienced in your life.

It’s actually some of the best writing advice out there.

When you write about what you know, you bring a voice to the table. You present yourself as an expert on a craft, a journey, an experience. You get to teach people about something they may not previously know anything about. If you write from what you know, people trust you as “someone who’s been there.” You become credible and more importantly, your work becomes credible.

Writing from knowledge will not only engage your readers, but chances are you’ll be able to sell some of your work because what *you* know could be very, very interesting. After all no one else in the world has your exact point of view.

You are the only one who can tell your story.

But what are you qualified to write about?  Here’s a short list, if after reading an article or book you’ve said “I could’ve written this book” then you know about something enough to write about it.

If after reading something, you’ve thought, “Boy would I have liked to include information on …” then yeah, you know enough.

If you’ve taken a journey, had an adventure or have created an entire universe in your mind, then you know enough to write about it. Basically if you are alive you know enough about *something* to write about it.

And what you know constantly changes. Stay on top of it.

Here’s an example:

After years and years of being in chronic pain I decided to enroll in New Hampshire’ therapeutic cannabis program. I’m a middle-aged mother of 6, hardly your average cannabis user, but here I am taking gummies and vaping.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I’d been given an opportunity to tell others about my journey into therapeutic cannabis.

I pitched an article to a magazine by saying that I had a first person story on the use of medical marijuana for chronic illness.

The editor accepted the pitch and the story got published. It’s right here if you want to see it.

I am the only person in the world who could have written that exact article.

I’m new to the world of therapeutic cannabis. I had authority to talk about my own personal experiences but had I tried to talk about dosages or equipment I would have been completely out of my league. An article on that would not have been authentic.

My article was only on what I know.

We’ve all read articles by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Usually they are filled with lots of quotes and descriptions, but very little substance. We end up turning the page pretty quickly.

So do yourself a favor. Take a look at your life – where you go and what you do. Write a list of topics that you know enough to write about.

And then choose one and follow the best advice out there and write about what you know.

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

12 thoughts on “Writing about what you know

  1. Hi, loved your ‘lessons learned’ from Charlotte’s web. I will be using some of the ideas to teach kids in my school, who are reading the book. Thanks! I’m a fan

  2. Pingback: Struggling to write…here Live to Write – Write to Live shares a great recipe! – Create Space

  3. I just started writing a few months ago. Although they are just family stories and interactions with local individuals, I am having fun. Yes, there are humorous pictures, but I do enjoy all of it. Thank you for take on your writing.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your article on therapeutic cannabis and you have throughly proven your point about writing about what you know. Hope your health continues to prove.

  5. This is by far the most useful, encouraging and most importantly, empowering article to help me improve and stay true to creating something meaningful and authentic in my writing. There’s been many a time when I’ve caught myself writing paragraphs where I can’t even identify my own voice, it’s like it was written by a stranger. Thank you for helping me stay the path and keep my voice true 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:
    We’ve all read articles by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Usually they are filled with lots of quotes and descriptions, but very little substance. We end up turning the page pretty quickly.

    So do yourself a favor. Take a look at your life – where you go and what you do. Write a list of topics that you know enough to write about.

    And then choose one and follow the best advice out there and write about what you know.

    ***

    Wendy Thomas

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