January 20, 2012

Write What You Know

NOTE: This post has been revised slightly since publication. Images and formatting have been updated.

Your anxious fingers are tapping the end of your pen against your temple. On the ground next to you is an expanding mountain of crumpled paper that you have ripped out of a notebook, balled into your ink-stained fist, and chucked onto the floor in frustration. Every time you thought you had an idea and jotted it down, you as quickly changed your mind. 

“It’s not good enough,” you growl.

Just not good enough to be the book that you want to write!

Take a long deep breath through your nose and expel it slowly out of your mouth. Your fairy-writing mother is here, and she has come to wave her wand before you and remind you to be patient. If you don’t have an idea for your story yet, don’t sweat it! Think about what you know and go from there.

I know, I know. Writers hate the phrase "write what you know," because it sounds restrictive. Often the things I write about I know in some form or another, and sometimes that's just from watching TV. Yes, really. 

When I say “what you know” that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a cop to write a story about one. You could know enough about police work from watching popular television shows to be able to right a convincing book with a cop or detective as your main character.

I write urban fantasies where the main character is a tough crime-fighting woman. I am not a cop/detective nor do I have a degree in criminal justice, but I have a knack for this kind of writing. And I have published several stories with detective character. Perhaps I was in law enforcement in another life? Hmm…

If you do have a degree, (GREAT!) use that valuable knowledge to write your book. A degree in the medical field can help you to write a thrilling book about a doctor’s life (or if you’re a huge fan of Grey’s Anatomy, that can help, too).

You can even turn a hobby into a story idea. Do you know how to knit? There are many heart-warming stories about women in knitting clubs. If you love to cook, could you write an interesting novel about a chef or baker?

Even your memories and experiences can be used in your story. Or what you've seen a loved one go through. These things count as things you know. 

The possibilities are endless!

So, search far and deep to find a subject that you are passionate about. This can lead to a story idea.

QUESTION: Other than writing, what are your hobbies and interests?


  1. You are a talented writer, Chrys Fey. And your advice is great! Thank you!

    Other than writing, I love to garden. A book about a gardner? Hmm... I'll have to think about that one. :)

    1. Thank you very much, Stephenie!

      Good luck on your book concept!

      Your writing blogger,
      Chrys Fey