Write what you want to write – Stephanie Elliot
By Stephanie Elliot
I’m a strong believer that people should write what they want to write. Some might shake their heads and say, “Oh no, you can’t do that, you have to ‘write what you know.’” I’m not saying not to do that, but make sure you write about a topic or story that you feel passionately about. And if you have to do some research into it, do some research. But don’t pigeonhole yourself into only writing what you know.♥
If that was the case, I’d be writing about a middle-aged woman sitting in a coffee shop, wearing no makeup, drinking a green tea, wondering what the hell she was going to write about, and trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
That book would also be about a mom who raises three kids who all turn out to be pretty good but kind of average. They don’t get into much trouble and stay away from drugs and alcohol. Not to mention that mom has been pretty happily married for twenty-something years but wishes she could travel more.
That book… well, that book sounds really exciting, doesn’t it? But that’s what I know, so isn’t it what I should write about?
See where this is going?
Don’t write only what you know, unless you want to. Write what you feel like writing. Write about what you care about. Write about what interests you. Write about your dreams. Write about what you think others might want to read. Write about what you might want to read but haven’t read yet. Write about your passions. Write about what hurts you. Write about what scares you. Write about the things you’ve always wanted to write about!
Nobody has the right to tell you what you can or can’t write. People are saying, “You can’t write about that, because you haven’t experienced that.” Has Stephen King murdered all those people he writes about? Does Anne Rice interact personally with all her vampire characters? Does E.L. James… well, never mind what E.L. James may or may not do!
But if you do want to write about a topic you don’t know about, do your due diligence. Research the heck out of your subject matter! Make sure you ask questions, the right questions, in order to ensure you’re writing your characters true to life. If you’re writing about a real destination, make sure you research that location. Bonus: Maybe that means you have to take a vacation.
When you’re a writer, you have to believe in yourself fully and wholly; you have to know that you can do what you set out to do. You have to be honest with the storytelling. Write truthfully, and make your reader believe what you’re saying.
But also remember, it’s fiction. You also get to pretend and have fun. You get to play, and make stuff up. You can create worlds and people, and you can embellish, but you have to make sure to be truthful to cultures, races, customs, and the history of people who are real in the world. You have to be respectful of the people you are writing about and to.
Writing should be fun and if you’re not having fun while you’re doing it, find a way to make it fun. Because this is your story, your words, and you’re allowed to tell it any way you want to.
Stephanie Elliot is the author of the YA contemporary novel Sad Perfect (Feb. 28, 2017; FSG). She has written for a variety of websites and magazines over the years and has been, or still is, the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper and the author of three self-published novels. Stephanie currently lives in Arizona with her husband and three children. They are all her favorites.