Aisling edits ‘Write what you know’

This is me – my other identity, if you will. My writing name, and a different angle on blogging.

Aisling Edits

It’s a phrase that haunts the teaching and practise of writing, and I’m not sure it’s correct. I’ve heard it said so many times, and yet I’m not entirely sure what it means. ‘Write what you know’ suggests that your experience as a person is necessarily going to inform and improve your writing, but it doesn’t seem to suggest it in the right way. It also ties directly into the modern fad* of realism and ‘literary fiction’ somehow being more valuable and meaningful than genre fiction, because to ‘write what you know’ is, actually, not to conduct thought-experiments about alternative futures or to look for meanings in stories about worlds with magic or different systems of government. It undermines the power of imagination and the point of research.

In fact, I would argue that the books I dislike the most are the ones where writers have written ‘what they know’…

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