Write What You Know

We get new writing assignments almost every week in English and the first thing we all do is wonder what the heck we’re going to write about. We usually spend the entire class period when we were supposed to be writing trying to come up with something to write about. We complain and drag on about how we have no idea what we’re going to do and basically just waste time. But once we get home and actually get down to it, we just decide on something to write about and let the words flow. And usually what we choose to write about is something we know; something we know better than it knows itself.

In the past, I’ve written about mock trial, my brother, and my favorite song; all things I know extremely well. The rest of our publishing house seems to end up doing the same, writing about siblings, pets, and extracurriculars. I find that this makes sense; we write what we know. We write what we love. We write what we know we can write.

And why wouldn’t we? We all know how tough writing can be so it makes sense that we try to make it easier on ourselves by writing what we know we could go on for ages about.

But what if tried to write about something we didn’t know so well? What if we took the time to research something knew, just so we could write about it? Or even if we went in blind and made some inferences and maybe we were completely wrong but at least we tried, right?

Now that would be an experience. Writing what you know is great but just throwing yourself into something you know only some or absolutely nothing about–that’s pure bravery. I’m not sure how great the writing would be because you don’t actually know much about what you’re writing but you can always throw a paper away or delete a document. The experience— something you can’t ever lose–of writing in the dark, I think, would allow you to be completely unafraid whenever you write. After having written about something you’re not too sure about, how hard can writing about something you know all too well be?

And who knows, maybe through your writing you’ll discover that you know more about something than you thought. Maybe you’ll write about biking even though you haven’t ridden one since elementary school and still aren’t too sure about how they work but discover that you do know about them because of that one time you had to ride to school and it was raining that you remember so vividly.

So I dare you the next time you write to write about something you really don’t know anything about. Let the words flow just like the would if you were writing about your bedroom or your favorite club; act like you know exactly what you’re doing. And when you’re done, read what you’ve got. Reflect on what you’ve learned, or what you knew but you didn’t know you knew. Then try writing about something you know you know and see just how easy it is.

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