Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There’s this writing mantra out there that really has had me thinking lately.

Write What You Know.

Writing what you know is considered one of the best ways for a new writer to start. The information is familiar, so generally research is at a minimum. You can craft your story world based on your own experience.

But, I’m going to propose something different.

Why not start by writing about what you don’t know? Okay, that doesn’t mean go out there and write about something that is completely opposite of you. Write about something that appeals to you and you don’t know everything about.

Because sometimes writing about what you don’t know helps you focus on what matters most.

I’m a nurse by trade and I’ve written stories that take place in hospitals, clinics, have medical themes, etc. But, it’s my non-medical stories that seem to come alive. Or should I say the characters seem to be more three-dimensional.

If I’m writing a medical story, I tend to write as if I’m there, an observer making sure the facts are correct, the setting is as I see it. And I’m overlooking one of the most important part of the story: the characters.

Sometimes not knowing what your write will force you to focus on the characters. How would she think in this situation? What would he do?

Sometimes taking a leap into a completely different story will free some writing blocks from the past or help open up a plot point from a different story.

Being different isn’t a bad thing. Expanding your horizons and that of your characters is what writing is about.


Abbi ☺


  1. Interesting thought, Abbi. It must be difficult to drop the role of detached observer and get into the emotional head of someone at the centre of the scene when all you're thinking is about it getting the details right. Especially difficult with Medicals I would think.

    And the thing is, we all know so much. Not just what we do in the day job. We've all had the holiday from hell, or cooked a dinner that was a disaster, or learned how to do something new.

    Good luck with the writing!

  2. I agree, Liz. Thank you so much for stopping by!

    Abbi :-)

  3. Great post Abbi!!! Especially cos most of the time, I don't feel like I know much AT ALL!

  4. Wow, Abbi, that's such a great point! I never thought about it like that - I try to write what I know or I drown in research. Or I fret too much about getting all the facts right. I wonder if I can find a happy medium?

  5. Hi Abbi,
    I think you're onto something here. Maybe by writing about your day job you're getting away from the romance and focusing on the detail of the work aspect. As soon as you mentioned what the characters think and do in a situation you hit a chord with me. I remember noticing I was doing that a lot more and it made my stories much more vivid and emotionally alive. For me that came with not trying to plot in as much depth, so I could let the characters evolve as I wrote. It's different for everyone I suppose. Good luck with this new approach!

  6. Thanks, Rach!

    Kat, I'm not sure if there's a happy medium. I just think writing something where you don't have to think too much eases the stress.

  7. Thanks, Annie. I'm always willing to try new things. ;-)