“People are inclined to say I am Ramona. I’m not sure that’s true, but I did share some experiences with her.” – Beverly Cleary
If you are a writer, you have heard the saying, “Write what you know.” With all due respect, that is hogwash. What if you don’t know about something? Does that mean you can’t write about it? That seems unnecessarily limiting for a craft that is about constant evolution and experimentation.
I have always preferred John Gardner’s concept. Write in the style that you love. If you love science fiction, write it. If you love fantasy, write it. If you, like me, love a variety of styles, you will find yourself writing in many different ways.
I refuse to be confined by what I know. Instead, I liberate myself with learning. It isn’t difficult to pick up enough about any subject matter to give your writing a sense of authority. You don’t need to be able to write a dissertation on molecular physics to have a physicist appear in your story.
I am an artist, not a scientist. It’s a waste of time to become an expert in pointless things when I could be practicing my craft, which is writing. All I need is enough spice to make the story taste real.
That being said, I am addict when it comes to information. In fact, if I were to name a hobby, the search for information might be number one on the list. I will become enamored with various subject matters, and for a few weeks, I will immerse myself in the world of that particular pastime.
For that reason, I am a man of many half-baked skills. I began college as an art major and music minor, then changed to journalism with a theater minor, then changed again to English. I love education. I adore research.
I am interdisciplinary by nature, why fight it? I have taken classes in everything from watercolor to modern dance. My interests lie everywhere. I believe my writing has benefited from my diverse experiential and educational background.
That diversity has taught me that all experience is rooted in the same basic emotions. You have felt excitement, love, lust, hate, envy, pride, passion, and every other color in the emotional spectrum. You don’t need to have had an experience to know the feeling it produces.
With the advent of the Internet, and a constant connection to the rest of the world, knowledge is only a Google search away. Knowledge is, in fact, the power that drives literature.
Feel free to write what you know. It can be comforting to write about familiar things. Then stretch yourself out, find what you don’t know, research it, and write it. You will be a better writer for it.