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Writing what you know – Part two

I do write lots of nonfiction books on topics that may not always be my favourites and which involve considerable research but that’s a little different, more like writing magazine articles or being a business writer or journalist.

I probably wouldn’t write a book about fishing, sailing, mountain climbing, farming, most sports, horses, and several other topics, although these things might crop up in a book as part of the plot. I prefer to stick with what inspires me, which makes the writing process much more enjoyable.

I should clarify that this doesn’t mean that you have to pigeonhole yourself. If you come from a small town does that mean you can never write about life in a big city? If you live on a farm in a rural area, can you never compose a gritty crime drama set in New York? You should always strive to stretch yourself creatively. Everyone develops as a writer as they work on their stories and most writers usually become more proficient at their craft as they continue to create new work.

Writing what you know refers to what interests or intrigues you rather than what you’re qualified to do. As I mentioned, my nonfiction work has often been on topics with which I’m less familiar and involved considerable research, similar to that conducted by journalists when completing an article for a magazine or an online publication. Yet research also has to be completed for most books that aren’t merely very simple stories, even if it only involves creating a plausible character by studying someone’s profession, the type of clothing they might wear, or their general outlook on life.

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