It may be advice often given to writers, but is the idea to “write what you know” always understood, and valuable for creating good work?
In his post “Write what you know” – the most misunderstood piece of good advice, ever., Jason Gots comments that writer Nathan Englander “says that ‘write what you know’ is one of the best and most misunderstood pieces of advice, ever.
“It paralyzes aspiring authors into thinking that authenticity in fiction means thinly veiled autobiography. If you’re a drunken, brawling adventurer, like Hemingway, no problem.
“But Englander, who grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community of West Hempstead, New York, says he spent a lot of his childhood watching TV, playing videogames, and dreaming about being a writer. Was he required to write about the Atari 2600?”
“Write what you know” isn’t about events, says Englander. It’s about emotions. Have you known love? jealousy? longing? loss? Did you want that Atari 2600 so bad you might have killed for it? If so, it doesn’t matter whether your story takes place in Long Island or on Mars – if you’re writing what you know, readers will feel it.”
Continued on The Inner Writer site: Should You Write What You Know?