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Write what you really know

Our minds are treasure troves of inspiration.

Stop for a moment, sit somewhere comfortable and close your eyes. Allow your mind to wander, not to the things you must do or want to do, but to your memories.

Maybe you revisit your travels, return to hotels, beaches, cities, mountains. Maybe you are transported back to memorable events. Births. Weddings. Special occasions. Maybe sad memories float in too. The losses. The regrets. The things you can’t change. 

Now take a few breaths and return to the room.

Our memories, both the happy and the sad, are a powerful tool for our imagination.

When Mark Twain said ‘write what you know’, he didn’t mean write about a place you know intimately or a profession in which you’ve spent many years. Many people think the quote means writers must centre their words around deep knowledge or expertise. Don’t let this limit you. Knowledge is simple to gain, especially in the digital age.

What Twain really meant was for us to draw upon our emotions.

We know and understand our emotions most intimately. We know how it feels to love, to cry, to win, to lose. Drawing upon this enables each writer to write about even the most well-trodden subjects and places in a unique way.

When you need to show a character’s elation, draw upon moments in your life when you too have felt elation. Describe the feeling, show it in your character’s actions, show the impact on their world. You can do the same for darker moments too. This is why writing can have such a positive, healing effect. You process your feelings when you write and you get to use them in a constructive way, using life’s lessons to inspire your readers. 

You can use your memories and your emotions in other ways too, applying them across many forms of writing, using them to create mood and tone, for example.

Meditate to bring your feelings and memories to the fore or explore them in a notebook or journal. You may be surprised what comes up. 

Life is every writer’s ultimate source of inspiration. 

About Loretta Milan

Founder and Commissioning Editor of Lightbox Originals. On a mission to get the world writing and finding wellbeing through words. Loves books, tea, travel and art.


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