“Write What You Know.” So, What Do You Know?

by Suzannah Windsor Freeman

Woman writing on laptop

You hear it all the time: “Write what you know.”

I happen to be one of those people who doesn’t feel comfortable writing about the unfamiliar. I prefer to write what’s real to me, things I know for sure.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. There’s always the sinking feeling that one doesn’t really know all that much–not in comparison to how much the world has to offer. Take a look through your bookstore or library, and you’ll see hundreds of books you could never have written.

Still, I think it’s counterproductive to dwell on all the things we can’t write about. Instead, try this: take 10 minutes and list things you really know. Be as random as you like.

Here’s are some things I know for sure:

  • I know the glow of a life growing inside of me.
  • I know what it’s like to have so much snow in one’s front yard, your house disappears.
  • I know that Lake Superior never looks the same twice.
  • I know what the sunburnt Australian grass feels like beneath my bare feet.
  • I know what it’s like to leave everything you’ve ever known behind, in search of a new life.
  • I know the powerful connection between my fingers and a piano keyboard.
  • I know how it feels to miss the senior prom.
  • I know what it’s like to have to sell one’s most prized possession.
  • I know the way watercolours bleed when you blot them with a wet brush.
  • I know Hamlet’s soliloquy by heart.
  • I know the smell of barbequed hot dogs and mustard in the summertime.

Once you get started, you might find, as I did, that you don’t want to stop. I could have gone on forever.

I know relationships, I know experiences. I know music and art.

What do you know?

I guarantee, you have more stories in you than you think.

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