Please follow this blog

If you are not yet following this blog, please click on the "Join This Site" button below to your right. You're not obligated to anything after that and won't receive emails or anything from me. It just makes my numbers look better. After you've followed, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to follow your blog as well. Thanks!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Write What You Want to Know

           I'll probably never be a sports writer.  I just don't know enough about the subject and I'm not that interested in it.  There are many things that I'll probably never write about due to my lack of interest in them.  

          This brings to mind the adage of "write what you know".   I'd like to perhaps expand that to include "write what you want to know". This of course doesn't include journalistic type assignments where writers may be given assignments to write about topics that they may know nothing about and have to gather the required information in order to complete their articles. 

          What I am referring to here is the writer who works on their own incentive--the freelancer or the book author.  Many of us will probably concur that in order to write about a topic you don't necessarily have to be an expert on the topic, but you want to know enough to write convincingly enough to make you sound like you know what you are talking about.  This involves research about the subject matter.  It also involves an aptitude in writing within your chosen genre.

             Next month's NaNoWriMo challenge will require coming up with a topic and more than likely those of us writing will be writing about a subject that interests us in a genre in which we feel comfortable writing.  I am pretty sure I will not be writing a romance.   There may be romantic relationships in my story, but I probably wouldn't feel very adept at writing in the romance genre.

             Whatever subject I do decide to write about will more than likely be something that I find very intriguing.   I'm leaning strongly toward science fiction this go around, but it will probably not be anything highly technological or anything concerning other universes.  I prefer staying here on Earth and I would rather deal with philosophical or spiritual ideas than complex scientific concepts.

             The theory that I'm proposing is that most writers would prefer to write about either what they already know or about something they have a strong interest in learning more about.   If a writer is going to immerse themself into a fantasy world where they will be living and creating over a period of time, they need to maintain an enthusiasm for this world and the characters that inhabit this imaginary place (or real place in some cases).  Doing something you don't like can be a tremendous drain on energy and creativity. 

            Do you ever write about things in which you have little or no interest?    Have you ever started researching a topic that you thought you would not like and found it interesting enough to change your mind, or visa versa?  Are there any genres that you probably would avoid?    Would you ever push yourself into writing in an uncomfortable genre?
           

31 comments:

Will Burke said...

My book neccessitates a lot of sailing, so I've done a little research there, and look forward to more hands-on.

Misha said...

I have never done research that I'm not interested in, since I have a mind for trivia.

But let me just say that my main character will never be a biologist.

:-)

Happy Frog and I said...

This is an interesting post and got me thinking. I don't think I could write a romance or horror novel, but I might give it a go after reading this, just to see. I like to try different styles of writing because you never know what you can do till you try. I'm attempting to write a sitcom at the moment. Something I would never have tried even 6 months ago.

Rae said...

My husband is always urging me to write politicians and manufacturers when he gets upset with their activities or products. I hate being told every word and phrase to say when it's nothing that interests or concerns me. Then he comes up with ideas for books or short stories and doesn't understand why I don't crank out pages and pages of his suggestions. Writing is harder than it looks- and especially if your heart is not in it.

DEZMOND said...

"Doing something you don't like can be a tremendous drain on energy and creativity."

oh, tell me about it :) I've translated 15 books so far, but among those novels there were a few which really turned out to be a torture for me because the writers were just to far away from my philosophical or moral convictions.

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't. I jave my hands full researching what I like to write about. There' enough there to keep me busy for the rest of my life.

Stephen Tremp

Arlee Bird said...

Will -- Research that's fun is the best kind!

Misha -- Well, never say never! You may come up with a briliant story for a biologist one day.

Happy Frog -- Sometimes it's an eye-opener to try something you think you won't like. But I don't know how far I would want to take something if it continued to be drudgery and never seemed like it would get better. But as in life, it's all a matter of attitude.

Rae -- Maybe your husband needs to take up some writing on his own. Tell him you'll be his editor.

Dezmond -- That's when writing becomes work, and questionable work at that.

Stephen Tremp-- It's good when you have a healthy bank account of ideas to work with.

Lynn said...

I've been reading about NaNoWriMo lately. That is a challenge I don't think I will ever want to do, but maybe I'll change my mind one day. Same with genre. A short story for a school assignment turned into a romance. Another writing turned from realistic fiction to SciFi. Who knew I had it within me? Writing vomits out the unknown in my unconcious sometimes. Other times, I'm searching for answers, trying to work things out in my life through my fiction. Sounds kind of crazy, I know!!

Gregg said...

I am not a writer, however, when teaching or preaching I am researching vigorously topics, subjects, words, principles, and theological concepts. I love to study, research, dig out the meaning of a passage.

To properly understand a passage a set of hermenuetical rules are employed that involve observing the text, interpreting the text and deriving proper application based upon sound interpretation.

Most of the time the topic is pleasant but sometimes I would rather pass, but I am charged with teaching the entire council of God's Word; not just the good parts.

As far as what genre I avoid when I read - I don't like sci-fi, horror, romance, or most philosophical dribble. I like crime stores, biographies, and westerns.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I seem to write topics that I have expereienced in my life or things I'm about to do. However I did my homework a few years ago on Percy Byshee Shelley and his family as the area I reside much of the land and the Manor along the road was once owned by Shelley's son also called Percy. I found it most interesting.

Yvonne.

DiscConnected said...

Lee-

I always wondered how writers stay fresh, even when they're in a field they are passionate about.

I'd started a My Space blog a few years back for CD reviews, and I was gung-ho at first, but then just ran out of things to say.

Now I am not a writer by trade, but I could see where even those with the most loquacious typing fingers would hit a brick wall eventually.

As an accountant, you get embalmed before entering the profession, so staying fresh is not a problem!

LC

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like that adage - write what we want to know.
I probably won't stray from speculative fiction, but one never knows.

Carol Kilgore said...

Only for non-fiction that actually pays me to write it. Fiction always lets me explore things I want to know more about.

notesfromnadir said...

Yeah, I've written about subjects that don't fascinate me but at least I got paid for 'em. I also learned more about them so I may end up using the knowledge when I least expect it.

The Golden Eagle said...

I used to dislike science fiction, but now it's one of a few genres I write, nowadays. I probably will never be able to throw myself into romance, chick lit, horror, or even mystery, but a challenge can always be fun to try and tackle.

Diana said...

No, No, Yes and No. I mostly write what I know. Occasionally I like to throw in a little fantasy for fun, most know when I do this. Mostly I write about an everyday, ordinary housewife!
Love Di ♥

Arlee Bird said...

Lynn--Sometimes a story just has a life of its own--no matter what you think you want to tell, the real story might be something else entirely.

Gregg-- The research can be so interesting and involving that it can lead in other directions than it was originally intended.

Yvonne -- Shelley and his cronies were an interesting bunch. I recall when my youngest daughter was in 6th grade she had to do a paper about Lord Bryon and I got so fascinated when I was helping her that I read several books about Byron and Shelley.

Larry -- That's why you need to blog and keep an avid interest in music and other things -- a breath of fresh air to enliven you after work.

Alex -- Most authors pretty much find their place and stay in it for the most part. If it works, why change?

Carol -- When you're getting paid then it's a whole different story. But the fiction is like a vacation from the paid writing job.

Lisa -- If you have to research, it's still knowledge deposited in the memory bank.

Golden Eagle-- Accepting a challenge can open new doors.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

I've written articles on subjects that don't interest me. They were adequate, but lacked the passion that can only come when an author loves the subject she is writing about.

My geekier side may be showing here, but I really enjoy research. Learning about new subjects is enlightening.

I don't think I could write romance. My work-in-progress has some romantic overtones, and writing the scenes was like pulling teeth.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I think it’s OK to write about what you don’t know as long as you are willing to do the required research. I might try a short story in an uncomforable genre, but probably wouldn’t attempt a novel.

Karen Lange said...

I've expanded my writing horizons a bit - sometimes it's a good venture, other times not so much. But I always learn from it, so this is a good thing.
Have a great week,
Karen

Arlee Bird said...

Diana --Apparently what you write about works because you have a lot of readers who love what you have to say.

Andrea -- I think we all have to dabble in some realms we care less about just to add more interest to what we write.

Jane -- A short story is probably the best place to experiment. A novel becomes quite an investment.

Karen -- It's good exercise to stretch beyond one's comfort zone.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. I definitely fall into that category .. writing about things I want to know about .. or things I find that are so interesting .. or I think will interest others - then I gather info for the post .. amazing what comes up! Thanks - Hilary

Margaret Duarte said...

I most definitely only write about subjects I find extremely interesting. Otherwise I'd never finish a novel. In fact, my novels are like research projects turned into stories. My search for answers becomes my protagonist's search for answers.

Vatche said...

If there's a story, there's a way! At least, that's what I tell myself.

I feel as though, if there's a story that gets me interested enough, then I will write it out, regardless of whether I'm comfortable in the genre or not, because if I do get myself into it, in no time at all, I'll be interested in the genre.

And if I want to write something, I want to write something usually that I have an interest in...unless it's a stupid homework assignment for a class then, I'm kind of forced to write it, but maybe I'll end up liking the paper in the end. I can never know until I write it.

Write on!

kimberlyloomis said...

Interesting post, Lee! I think you're ultimately right about writers gravitating toward writing about the things they want to know about, possibly simply what they do know about already. For my part I like writing in the uncomfortable for me. The discomfort, however, can simply be because the plot is unsettling (that's the case currently) and not just because it pushes me. I feel no compulsion in pushing myself to write in a different genre or what not, but have found myself doing so simply because the story I wanted to write wound up going in that direction. It's always a push that furthers my craft so I'm staying open to the possibility of writing in just about any genre. Except YA. :)

Powdered Toast Man said...

You should write about writing about what to write. A nonsensical book that goes nowhere.

Karen Peterson said...

I really like writing about things I want to learn about. It's great for learning and experiencing new things. It's one of my favorite parts of being a writer.

Arlee Bird said...

Hilary -- The researching can be such a fun learning experience.

Margaret -- Writing a novel would be like work if you had to plod unpleasantly thru it.

Vatche -- I with you on that. If you're interested you can make the topic and the genre yours.

Kimberly-- It's good to push oneself sometimes. That's how we get better at anything we do.

PTM -- I love it! Now that sounds like the type of writing I like.

Karen -- Writing, like any work or vocation, should be enjoyable, otherwise why do it?

Paula Slade said...

Do you ever write about things in which you have little or no interest? Yes, but I always keep in mind that I'm going to learn something new in the process.

Have you ever started researching a topic that you thought you would not like and found it interesting enough to change your mind, or visa versa? There have been many times that in gathering research I would find myself wanting to know more.

Are there any genres that you probably would avoid? I'm not adverse to any particular genre, but would be to certain topics.

Would you ever push yourself into writing in an uncomfortable genre? I will try any genre once.

Donea Lee said...

Hi Lee - thanks, so much, for stopping by my blog! Glad you liked my pictures. Wasn't that gourd one awesome? :D

I thought I'd do the same and check you out - :) I like the concept of "write what you want to know." If research is involved, it certainly helps to do it on something you're actually interested in. I was actually thinking about this today. I was rummaging through some writing notebooks and ran across a story idea I'd jotted down at some point, because I didn't want to forget it. It's a good idea, I still believe that, but for some reason I'd made the intended MC a police officer and I realized... I just wasn't sure I could pull off an entire novel from that point of view. Or that I'd want to. I'm still mulling it over - but, I believe that your best writing comes from an idea your personally invested in and excited about! Just my humble opinion. :)

Arlee Bird said...

Paula -- Trying something new can be an adventure and definitely a learning experience.

Donea -- It can be interesting to look back on old writing to see what you were thinking at that time in your life. When you look at something like that you might realize you now know what you didn't previously know.