In the past, solid writing advice would be to write what you know. The implication was, if you worked as an A & E nurse, write about hospital life. You fought in a major war? Write about it. But….. is this advice now obsolete?
John Grisham was a lawyer so has excellent credentials for writing court room dramas but does experience matter?
I don’t think so.
Stephen King has probably never encountered a murdering clown or vampires.
J.K Rowling has never been to a school specifically for witches and wizards.
J.R.R Tolkien has never lived as a hobbit.
But……..millions of people have bought and enjoyed their books.
Technology has made it easy for us to gain knowledge in a few clicks. Anyone can obtain knowledge about any subject now without any real life experience and write a believable story about it. I understand the need to be factual if something has to be real – matters of law, for example – but otherwise I think it’s time to say goodbye to the old, stuffy advice to write what you know.
It has probably always been obsolete advice, doled out by self-obsessed authors who thought they belonged to an elite group.
These days, anyone can join the party. Bring your imagination and something to write with and you’re in. If I read enough about it, I’ll bet I can convince you I’m an astronaut.
Tonight I have been reading various articles on the lives and deaths of famous writers. Perhaps it is a little ghoulish to be reading such things but it is also fascinating at the same time. The first link takes you to an article about alcoholic authors. I have read On Writing by Stephen King in which he stated that he used to believe drink and drugs made him a better writer. Nowadays, he sees things differently. Anne Rice has also posted a video on YouTube urging writers not to drink.
Personally, I would agree with them. I have sat down with a drink in the past and the writing gets forgotten about. The drinking becomes a distraction, a time-stealer. That time could have been spent writing. Thankfully I’m not an alcoholic but I can understand that brief feeling that you are saying/writing something meaningful while under the influence; the false belief that drinking makes you more intelligent and talented.
Top 15 Great Alcoholic Writers
This next link is slightly morbid but fascinating at the same time. A writer dying from cocktail stick injuries is not a common occurrence, I’m sure!
Weirdest Writer Deaths
It certainly made me think about some of my habits. I will be careful about what goes into my mouth from now on. I am guilty of holding pens in my mouth but after reading that article, I will not be doing that. My imagination has me choking on a biro. I want to be known for living by the pen, not dying by the pen.