Write What You Know or What You Can Imagine?

Many years ago, the most common bit of writing advice doled out to aspiring authors was “write what you know”. We all became so familiar with that advice, even third-grade children considered it when choosing topics for their creative writing assignments.

However, Frank Herbert certainly never visited the barren and dangerous world of Dune prior to writing about it so convincingly. Obviously writing what you know isn’t exactly the be-all-and-end-all of writing advice.

Perhaps, write what you imagine, would be more accurate—because if all of us wrote what we knew, the world would be filled with books about ordinary people living out simple lives in boring towns and cities around the globe.

But our minds and imaginations are remarkable places and writers in particular are blessed with the ability to imagine such places as if they lived there, breathed the air, tasted the dust on their tongue. And readers are hungry to be transported from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Your challenge is to become so in tune with the world around you now, that you can imagine your invented world. Take the time to study the world around you—people, places, even conflicts. Get out of the house, people- and relationship-watch, visit a working lab, study a biology textbook, learn.

If you’ve never felt snow melt on your skin, sand sinking away from your toes as the tide rushes out or the thrill of driving a car very, very fast, how can you write it in such a way that the reader can feel it, too?

You don’t have to have experienced every little thing life has to offer, but you do have to live, study and experience.

As writers, we’re naturally inclined toward reclusiveness, but that’s a shortcoming we have to overcome. Get out there. Experience as many things as possible. That way, when you want to write about a world where moisture clings to the air like floating dew, you’ll know exactly what that feels like (and all the accompanying trials of such a place) because you spent a few days in Maine during autumn.

Write what you know … in ways no one else can imagine.


Frank Morin recently released his latest book, Memory Hunter. Buy it here.
Memory Hunter is a thrilling alternate history. When Sarah is targeted by enhanced assassins, she’s drawn into the epic struggle between the mysterious facetakers and their ancient enemies. Romance, deception and constant action make Memory Hunter a fast read. This is the first book of a trilogy which spans the globe and delves deep into the past as history becomes the battlefield.

Fem~Machina: short stories volume 1 and 2 by Sylvia Heartz are now available on Amazon Kindle.
A psychiatrist manipulates patients’ dreams to cure their mental hangups, a pillow floats a girl safely to the ground, a loyal faery aids her dragon, a middle school bully vanishes into a fae locker, a woman escapes a life of abuse by merging with a horse, and a shiny white pot the size of a toad has the power to end the world – and more. Each volume contains six pieces of art and nine stories; each story is accompanied by a short introduction.

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