Writing Advice: what do people mean with “Write What You Know”?

Okay, so I usually stay away from general writing advice stuff, but sometimes I can’t help but just… share a different point of view. It’s always about context and perception.

I’m talking about the “write what you know” advice.

I always see people interpret it like it doesn’t allow you to explore and research matters you don’t yet know. That you can’t write new things, fantastical things, etc. That it takes from creativity. I’m not going to paraphrase what I’ve read, and I’m not going to say their take is invalid. I just want to share a different interpretation.

Honestly, I always interpreted “write what you know” as make sure to research thoroughly so you know what you’re doing. But also, I see “write what you know” as putting some authenticity into your work. When you let your writing be influenced by your own experiences, it adds to your work in a way only you can. It makes it feel real, believable.

To me, personally, “Write what you know” is a positive message. There’s things I’ve experienced, that I know about, that I don’t see in books (or most media for that matter). And with how I always used to think people didn’t care for what I had to say, to me, “write what you know” feels like “it’s okay for you to share your stories” It’s a “your voice is wanted”.

Honestly, it also plays into the “stay in your lane” category. Some things you will never know to the extent that you truly understand because you’ve never lived it. You don’t know what it’s like to be Black when you’re white. Or trans when you’re cis. Or queer when you’re not. “Write what you know” is don’t write other people’s stories and experiences. They’re theirs to tell.


How about you? How do you interpret “write what you know” and do you think it’s useful or counteractive?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *