Write with authority or don’t write at all.
TThis is a motto – Not my sole motto but one I use as a guideline when writing.
Why? Because I do not want to write something and have someone reading it thinking – ‘Well they clearly don’t know what they were talking about because I have experienced that and it was nothing like they describe.’
Obviously everyone experiences things differently but as a writer it can be easy to think you know everything – Yes, I do quite often think this….as my close friends will tell you.
Before I was married I sort of made a rule that I would not write about a marriage in any intimate detail as I had never experienced being married. I confined myself to the world of courtship, which I love, and, now I am married, I am only just starting to explore writing about marriage and man alive is it hard!
That is not to say you can’t write about what you don’t necessarily know a great deal of but it is an area of danger and you must be aware of that. As a writer you do tend to write about things which you haven’t always experienced – it’s called imagination, however, know your limits. Be careful when tackling large subjects like abuse or death when you have little experience of them. The reasons for this are:
1. For the sake of your writing which could potentially be poor or simply wrong as a result of your lack of knowledge.
2. For the sake of your readers who may well have experienced these things and be offended or think you are trivialising isssues which are sensitive to them or they might just generally think your work is poor quality.
On the positive side of things; always remember to glory in the subjects which you do know.
I used to work with horses. I know horses. I know what it feels like to be kicked, stamped on, dragged, squished against a wall, sit a bucking horse and have a horse rear with me on top. I also know how it feels to get to know a horse, to understand what they’re scared of and where they like being scratched, I know what it feels like to work together with a horse in beautiful synergy maintaining that perfect collected canter. Finally, I know what it’s like to feel the pent up energy of an excited gelding explode into a gallop beneath me while the rain pelts my face, praying with every bound forward that the horse won’t slip while at the same time grinning like a maniac from the adrenaline rush!
I can use my authority in that and write about horses with it (something I want to do at some point). So, now I’ve yammered on about myself, what are you an authority in?
Remember, when you are an authority in something, it usually produces the best writing. Never forget your strengths – Exploit them instead – It’s so much more fun 😉
Philippa Jane Keyworth – Author