“Write what you know” is common language in our writing community. Taken in its most general form, many new writers stick to their guns. They write about X and only X, never progressing or growing their horizons.
Break that phrase into sub-segments. Think of all the things you know. For me, that list is extensive: softball, college athletics, grad school, nutrition, running, cats, IT, marketing, business, writing, editing, minimalism, self-improvement, exercise, graphic design… and that’s just scratching the surface. All of those elements can be expanded upon, combined, broken apart, and more. There are a million different options and ideas to choose from. So, write all the things you know.
Now, what happens when you’ve exhausted that list? FYI, it’s never going to happen, but for the sake of argument, roll with me. You can’t move on to write about the next topic because you don’t know it. We are stuck back in square one, writing XYZ and only XYZ.
But what’s stopping you from knowing new things? I am a firm believer in learning out loud, which is where you embrace the “I don’t know” and be willing to share your discovery experience. There’s one more thing you can write about.
When you’ve reached the end of that topic (again, not going to happen, but roll with it), revisit everything you’ve learned and write it all again. What do you wish you knew when you started? What things or opinions changed as you gathered more information? Question certain processes and see if you can do it better. There’s a ton more content right at your fingertips.
But… you’ve now reached the end of the internet. There’s no more information out there to write about. You’ve exhausted the list of things you know. It’s time to hang up your writing tools because there’s nothing left.
Of course that’s not the case. There are always things to go back to, and now that you know everything, you have everything to revisit. So, which are you going to choose?
This is the time to “write what you love”. Find the topics you just couldn’t stop writing or thinking about. Passion and excitement about those topics will bleed out on the page. Readers will feel what you write, information will flow from your heart rather than your brain, and you will find growth in yourself and your writing. Write for yourself, first and foremost, and write what you love, because that’s what makes you unique.
Turn the phrase “write what you know” into an endless stream of writing ideas. Use it to your advantage and develop yourself. Learn to write what you love and fill your heart with the creative spirit. Discover what other people love and learn to love that too. Share your learning and spread the knowledge so others can profit too. Never run out of things to write about.