Mar 13, 2011

They say to write what you know...

Well, that's kinda hard for someone as naïve as I am. I know, I know: I have lots of stories to tell; I have lived through some tough experiences. But honestly, I am not ready to tell them. And so I wonder what the heck I am doing. I have to lie; I have to make up stories.

I know they* say beginning writers must first learn how to write, and by the time they are good writers they'll be ready to tell their stories. Well, I am not a patient person. I am not a sit-down-and-learn-your-craft person. I am an I-get-it-or-I-don't person. And if I don't get it, which is frustratingly frequent, I shut down and stop production.

If I were talking to myself - which, let's face it, I am - I'd say, "That talk makes it sound like you think you're better than everyone else. Like you shouldn't have to pay your dues." Um, yeah, so not true. It's the complete opposite, in fact.

As I alluded to on the last post, I do not have confidence in my writing. My crit partners do. Even some of you who have not read my prose have confidence in my writing. Comma splices and fragments aside, I have a real talent. I know that. That is not the issue. I have more confidence about jumping out of a plane than I have for my writing.

They say to write what you know. Well, I just don't know...

This post is clearly rhetorical because I already know the number one piece of advice will be to take my time and it** will come.

* who the eff is they?
** what the eff is it?


  1. Well, there's what you know, then there's what you KNOW. (Like the kind of stuff you know in you heart, regardless of life experiences.)

    I never liked the phrase "Write what you know" until I started to look at it differently. I mean, I lived a pretty sheltered life. What did I know?

    Well, I knew that I day-dreamed lots of things and I got to know them with my heart. My soul. I wrote truths that were complete fabrication, yet completely true nonetheless.

    I am probably making no sense. Sorry. There is a book by Eudora Welty, One Writer's Beginnings, (it's pretty old) where she talks about living a quiet existence on the outside, but a wild one in her imagination.


  2. LOL Jon, your post speaks straight to me--and I'm sure SO many other people. THe best piece of advice I ever got regarding writing what I know was this: You KNOW a lot. Your imagination and emotions let you KNOW lots of things, and the things you don't? Google! Research! Voila! You know :)

    Also, I don't think you should take your time. I think you need to dive in. I have a blog scheduled for a week or two from now, but it's basically about fake it til ya make it. Push yourself. Shove all those doubts aside and persevere. That might sound cheesy, but you HAVE to do it. You have it in you, Jon. That's one of the things that *I* know :)

  3. I feel this way too.

    I agree with Sara (and our wise friend H), fake it til you make it.

  4. I hear you, brother. I know nothing about confidence; I have ZERO. Part of my problem is I spend too much time comparing myself to others. Another part is I find it completely unfathomable that anything I write is worth reading. But, if others have confidence in us, then I say write it for them, haha. When did our own opinions really matter that much? ;)

  5. Fake it till you make it! That's my theme song!

  6. It's an oft stated axiom and I'm not sure where it came from, but as I commented elsewhere yesterday where the same topic had been raised--if you do research on the topic then you know about it, right? You don't have to have been through the actual experience.

    Tossing It Out