Write What You Know...Really?

Penning a Letter by George Goodwin Kilburne

A friend recently asked if I'd share a writing tip. Like almost everyone on the planet she wants to write a book, but is confused about where to start as well as with the concept of writing what you know. Like her, I’ve always had difficulty with that notion. 

Then I read a quote by W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe (on which the movie Field of Dreams was based). He said, ‘You don’t have to commit suicide to write about it’. The logic of that statement resonated with me.

Imagination, not personal experience, allows us to write a fast paced, believable story.

Where do you stand on this issue? Is it necessary for an author to stay within the boundaries of personal experience to write a great book?

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  1. I agree with you, Anne, however any good author worth their salt HAS to do research and that means read, read, read. And also have a good imagination :-)

  2. I take my imagination and mix it with what I know. For me, I need both.


    1. A combo of experience and imagination is a fantastic creative solution, Malcolm! Like you I do my best to use a personal experience by recalling my reaction, feelings, etc. and then tweaking it to fit a situation I've never experienced but want to add to my story. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to drop by AND leave a comment! :)