Write What You Know

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

People often ask me what makes me love a manuscript. One of the biggest factors is the author’s voice. It has to feel real. I typically gravitate toward a manuscript when I can tell it’s written with truth and with heart.

This is another way of saying, “Write what you know.”

People often think “write what you know” means you only write about situations with which you’re personally familiar. But I disagree.

Write what you know means write with authenticity about thoughts, feelings, experiences of life. Be honest. Write from a deep place. Don’t write from the surface. Whether you’re writing about parenthood or cancer or anything else… be real. Write what you know about human nature. Write what you know about relationships. Write what you know about conflict and hardship and struggle.

Don’t reflect what you know from other people or from movies or TV shows… write what you know from your own inner life. Write your truth.

The plot and the research can come from your head, but the deeper truths of a great story come from a different place. Some might say the heart. I say, wherever you find the most “real” part of you.

You can take your characters into all kinds of worlds, real or imaginary. You can write about different kinds of people, families, relationships, occupations, time periods. Maybe you haven’t personally experienced any of those, so some might say you don’t “know” them. But when you write what you know to be true in terms of real motivations, real conflicts, real depth, real emotions… you are writing what you know, and you will connect with readers. Your story will feel authentic.

So, write what YOU know. This is where your originality and uniqueness will come from. Your experience of life is different from anyone else’s.

And, write what you KNOW. Not what you think, or what you’ve heard. Write what your gut tells you is the truth.

Write what you know.


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