Writing What You Know
by Marcella Simmons
(LOGANSPORT LA USA)
Writing What You Know
By Marcella Simmons
For many years, we writers were taught to stick with the old adage of 'write what you know.' That may well be good advice for new writers who haven't developed their writing talent well enough to take on a major assignment that they have no knowledge of, and may not be able to write it well, or for those who have yet to be published and don't wish to take on the workload of tons of research, collecting of necessary data, interviewing, writing and rewriting.
But 'write what you know' can be misleading because even new writers, whether they write it well or not, can learn new things as well as the next person. And they eventually become published writers because they ventured out of their 'comfort zone' of writing only what they know about and wrote about something their readers were wanting to read.
All in all, writing what you know can be a good thing, too. There is so much a writer knows about that he/she can share with the world. If you are a parent, there's things you can share about parenting. If you're a gardener or you grow herbs for home remedies, that's something worth sharing with the world. If you are a good cook or enjoy photography, then you have something to share. Every person is unique and knows about something. Every writer is different in his/her approach of presenting it in written form. Expert or not, your knowledge is unique and is not the same as that of your sister, your neighbor or even your spouse. In this case, writing about what you know gives you the opportunity of sharing your ideas with your readers.
What if you know nothing about chiropractors and what they do - an editor asks you to write a 1500 word article about the different techniques used at a chiropractors office and how he/she helps people with back and neck pain.
1) First of all, since you don't know anything about the subject matter (let's just say you never even been to one in your life), call the administrative office and tell the manager at the front desk what you are doing.
2) Be prepared to come in this week for a one-on-one interview with the chiropractor or his office manager.
3) Tell him/her that you are in the dark about the practice and ask if he/she could help with interview questions. Remember, being honest is the best way to get more and better inside information for your research.
4) Take a camera; ask for permission to take photographs of procedures used at a chiropractors office. Get quotes from different staff members, making sure you spell all names and positions correctly.
5) The internet is another great resource to find tons of valuable information about the different procedures of a chiropractor - you'll find more information than you'll ever use for one article. But hang onto those notes. You can write several different articles for different magazines - just write with a new angle and topic.
Never been on the table at a chiropractors office? Here's your chance. For a small fee (or maybe for free since you're writing about his office!) you can get a back rub or massage like you've never had before and come off that table feeling like you could climb Mt. Everest! With all the research and data that you have, coupled with your experience on that table, qualifies you as one who knows about chiropractors and what they do to make your neck or back pain disappear!
Now that all your information is intact and your article is ready to submit, think about some other things that you know about that might make for quality reading! And consider the things that you don't know about but would like to learn about, no matter what it might be. Start with step one above and you're well on your way to learning a new thing!
The next time you're at a writers conference, group or an editor tells you to 'stick with writing what you know,' then find a way to prove that this old age trick only qualifies for those who are unwilling to learn and write about new things!
There is nothing new under the sun and every person can learn something new if he/she really wants to. Writing about it sure makes for great stories that are waiting to be read!!!!