As a writer, I’ve heard this saying practically my whole life: write what you know. As cliche as it may sound, it’s true.
You may ask, what do you mean? Surely C.S. Lewis never visited Narnia or Tolkien Middle Earth. And you’re right. They didn’t. But they didn’t have too.
Those places were in their hearts and minds.
They wrote what they knew.
So really, to say ‘write what you know’, means write what’s dear to you. Write what your soul knows.
Every time I hear this phrase I think of Jo March in Little Women. She spent years writing thrilling and adventurous stories, but could not find success in the publishing world no matter how hard she tried.
Professor Bhaer helped her realize that she cannot be a truly good writer unless she writes what is most dear to her heart. It is then that she writes her masterpiece of sisters, simplicity, love, and home.
Like Jo, I’ve been writing my whole life. When I was little I wrote tiny picture books that I illustrated myself, and then in third grade, I attempted my first novel. (Yeesh… that’s not something we speak of.) From that point on I tried to write stories.
I had a thousand ideas but could never manage to finish any of them. I would write two to three chapters (once I managed five) and then the story would pitter out.
That was an ongoing cycle for goodness knows how long.
Until this last year that is.
During the spring of 2016, I started working on Meg and James. I had little in the way of plot, just an idea that had been growing for some years in my mind. But I really had no drive to finish it and saw it as nothing more than one of my other attempted, unfinished books.
However, God had larger plans in mind.
Over the course of the next year and a half, I wrote more than I ever had in my entire life. And I’m proud to say that this weekend I finished writing my first novel at 364 pages.
Honestly, this would not have been possible without the stamina God gave me to finish it. That stamina came not only in the internal drive He gave me but in the people He surrounded me with and the experiences He gave me to build me.
Those experiences drove me to keep writing. And without out those experiences, I would not have met my best friend.
This book literally brought me my best friend. If God had not given me the feeling that I needed to share it with someone, she and I would not have become friends. And without her, well, life would look a whole lot different.
Without the friends I have or the experiences God gave me over the past year, this book would not have been possible.
Because really, this book of mine is about what I know. What’s dear to me. It’s about family, friendship, love, faith, and the abiding love of God even when it seems the world is falling apart. I never would have finished this book if I had not written about what is in my heart.
God gives us the life He does for a reason. He gives us the experiences He has not only to grow us but to help others. When we share our struggles and triumphs we encourage those around us.
As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. ”
God uses our experiences for His glory and our good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
So, my friends, I encourage you to write what you know. Write what is dear to you.
Above everything, write from the heart.
(Both colleges are mine. The images are from Pinterest. The cover image was taken by me.)