What Does ‘Write What You Know’ Really Mean?
I am working on book 3 in the Santa Keeper series (Elsie’s Secret Life). This story will take place in the early 1960s. I have spent long hours online and in the library studying the people of the era. I’ve also interviewed people who remember what life was like in the 1960’s.
The book starts out in 1963 in Chicago. I’ve researched Chicago maps, buildings, famous landmarks, and transportation from that year. I’ve also learned about hair and clothing styles, food and the book publishing industry where my story will focus on. I can’t forget some of the people of 1963 like President John Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline and how they lived. And since there will be a murder investigation, I will need to understand law enforcement procedures.
The major character will contract the Alzheimer’s disease that will impact the family. There are references to mystical, magical and enchanted objects. All this raps around a treasure hunt complete with clues and red herrings. The topics are wide and varying.
This brings me back to the writer’s advice – ‘write what you know.’ I have a vague knowledge of these topics that I will write. But then I realized I had a lot to learn. After research I ‘know’ more about these subjects.
‘Write what you know’ isn’t about writing with the knowledge you have. It’s about relating your personal life experiences in your writing to create an emotional response in the reader. Can you describe and convey the emotions you have experienced? Can you write about sadness, fear, anger, and the other emotions?
Elsie will experience excitement and elation when her dream of becoming a published writer is within her grasp. She becomes shocked and fearful when someone she knows becomes murdered. She experiences confusion and isolation, love and passion, temptation and rejection and overwhelming sadness.
Research for this book meant digging up facts and figure. I also dug into my own emotional well to pull out and share my life experiences and emotions. That is the most exhausting research of all. At the end of the day my brain is exhausted.