Write What You Know
Somewhere out there in the cosmos is a person who understands the magic number of 83168 equals 44 and damn doesn’t that just sound old. Just saying it out loud makes me feel like a mere babe in the woods. This post you are reading and the words that comprise it are part of what some people call free association.
I have no plan, outline nor map to use here. This is not a coup-deblog or anything all that special. It is merely the words of the man who is silly enough to call himself TheJackB even though that is not my real name. Stop gasping, all that air sucking is unbecoming and will give you a bad case of the hiccups or worse. Hell, you could end up in cleveland singing Weekend in New England or Somewhere Down the Road.
Not me, no sir, no ma’am. Me I am going be standing right here preaching the good word to write what you know and what you feel. Know and feel are key elements in writing, parenting and life. I use write and know to feed my fire and add fuel to the tanks. They are part of the practical tool kit that I carry with me…always.
For example, when I work on Fragments of Fiction I rely upon several simple elements.
- 1) Every story has a piece of my life in it. That personal experience provides the know in the story.
- 2) I try to inject some action and or emotion that my readers can relate to.
- 3) Accessorize- that is a little girly sounding for me so maybe I should say that I try to add some spice to whatever I am working on. It is the marinade if you will.
- A Father Describes Parenting
- Donâ€™t Look for Death Because it Might Find You
- Almost 6000 Words of Wisdom
- Writers Write Right
- Song Sung Blueâ€¦And Other Colors
- She Dances
- Mean Girls Come From Mean Moms
Every one of those posts contains those basic elements and every one of them has won more awards than your blog has. Ok, I haven’t a clue where that last comment came from and will plead exhaustion. Really, I am exceptionally tired and in need of a vacation.
Ok, quick intermission to share the last five songs on my iTunes:
When Angels Sing– Social Distortion
Cosmic Love– FlorenceÂ & The Machine
Hot For Teacher- Van Halen
Sorry, I changed my mind and decided to share just three songs. Just didn’t feel like going further with it. But in the very near future I think that it will be time to revisit cars. Been a while since we talked about them here. Been a while since I shared some of the cars that have served as my chariot and it is about time to rectify that. Can’t live in LA without having some good car stories and I have more than a few.
I need to clarify something from my open letter to Triberr members post. I am always concerned about quality. I always pay attention to the posts that I produce and am well aware that some of them don’t meet the mark that I wish to set. But unless they are truly horrific I publish them.
I refuse to let myself be paralyzed by fear of failure. I won’t not publish because I think that a post is subpar. I am the publisher here. I make the rules and I set the tone. This place is my home, my cyber refuge and the place I use to practice my art. Writing is an art and there is no way to improve without practice.
Sometimes your feedback helps me in ways that I cannot predict. Sometimes you catch things that I don’t and point out details that I miss and I find that to be quite helpful. Sometimes you love the stuff I hate. Good content is of paramount importance but when I write about what I know I usually come close enough to the mark to not be embarrassed.
TheJackB September 3, 2011 at 10:11 am
@3HatsComm Hi Davina. The feedback is both useful and interesting. A good commenting crew really makes the post come alive. I probably should do more to facilitate that than I do.
Forced writing is tough. It often sounds stilted and awkward- time away can be very helpful for recharging our batteries and/or gaining new perspective.
3HatsComm September 3, 2011 at 9:08 am
Thank you Jack.. the feedback does help in ways we can’t really imagine. Think it’s why I enjoy commenting so much, it really does bring the conversation forward and keep me thinking. When I struggle to post, it’s because I am forcing it and not writing what I think and feel.. and it shows. I also need a break and luckily my vacation isn’t too far away; hope you get some time soon. FWIW.
TheJackB September 3, 2011 at 7:57 am
@LetMeStart Those descriptive words in a piece should provide the spice and the flavor…..
LetMeStart September 3, 2011 at 3:28 am
“the marinade”: I frigging love this. Love it. I have always felt that the descriptive words in a piece moisten, soak the story with weight and color. So marinade is perfection!
Came from the weekend linkup…
outrageousblog September 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm
Put me in the hate it column, I guess. I think a little bit of self-editing isn’t a bad thing. But, hey, it’s not like you have to buy ink, so go on with your bad self.
<a href= “www.outrageousfortune.net”>www.outrageousfortune.net</a>
TheJackB September 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm
@JustinIiams Justin, I love that line about the red X- it is so very true. No one is forced to read a blog, it is entirely their choice to stay or go.
TheJackB September 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm
@marianne.worley I relate very strongly to your comment about words feeling and forced and losing their power. Here on the blog I play fast and loose but professionally, I just refuse to that. I don’t want to sound ignorant or foolish.
JustinIiams September 2, 2011 at 11:29 am
@TheJackB This is why I don’t blog all the time. I will only write about something that sticks in my brain for more than an hour and I can’t shake off. I don’t want to write about the big poo my son just did… That’s for facebook…
I write about what’s important to me. If people don’t like it, I give them an open invitation to hit that cute little red X at the top of the screen.
Some will love your content, Some won’t. I move on. Great stuff man! love reading your blog!
marianne.worley September 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm
I always try to write about what I know. When I break this rule, my words feel forced and lose their power. If I get a new business writing project on a subject I’m not familiar with, I dive into the research. I do the same thing with blog posts–I’m actually researching a topic for a new post now.
I think readers can sense if a writer isn’t writing about what he/she knows. Words need to evoke emotions, and if they don’t, the reader won’t connect with those words.
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 10:15 pm
@MSchechter I think that I read that book but I can’t quite remember. If I didn’t I certainly have been told about the story line because it is awfully familiar.
I love to write at night for all of the reasons you listed.
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm
@Faryna Aye aye captain- swinging is how you will find me but not forever. One day the battles will end, the fires will be extinguished and sleep will come.
We should all assumpted into the places we seek to reach and find the fortunes and rewards that we dream of.
I have never seen It’s A Wonderful Life. Caught fragments of it but never the whole thing.
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm
@AdrienneSmith I like that you share your experiences. It feels more honest and real than some of the webinars I have seen. I don’t buy the informercial crap because it comes across as fake and dishonest.
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm
@NancyD68 Readers are fickle and funny. You never can tell what they’ll love/hate. It is part of why I blog for me first. I can pour my heart out and write something that I think is incredible and no one replies.
And then I’ll produce something ridiculous and find a million comments on it.
If I were king of the world I’d tell everyone to do what you said, write what you know and care about.
KimDavies September 1, 2011 at 7:15 pm
@TheJackB Thanks for the confirmation, Jack. I am just glad though because I am learning from the best guys online. 🙂
MSchechter September 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm
@TheJackB there is a great line in Mother Night by Vonnegut. I’m actually tempted to re-read it just so I can remember exactly what it was. But the gist was there was this playwright who copied everything, except for this one thing he wrote and when his original work came out, it got him killed for treason. Vonnegut has this great line about the most dangerous thing in the world being an original idea… damn, going to have to break out my copy of that now.
I do a TON of my writing at night, great time and a great way to clear the mind.
NancyD68 September 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm
I agree Jack. What often strikes me as odd is how fickle some readers can be. yesterday, I did a fun post about The Blues Brothers and today I blogged about fear of commitment. Both are straight from the heart., yet one is doing far better. 🙂 Oh well, such is life I guess.
I do my best to post good stuff, but every now and then I post one and go – that was not my best. As long as it doesn’t totally suck, I will probably publish it.
I write what I know, and what I care about. There is not much else that I would blog about really.
Lori September 1, 2011 at 11:06 am
@TheJackB Same coin for sure! Equally fun to deal with too! LOL
AdrienneSmith September 1, 2011 at 9:10 am
I agree with you Jack which is why I’ll continue to stop by your place and see what you’re sharing with us another day. I like that you write what you feel, what you know and don’t worry if it will be accepted or not. Then again, you’re a writer where I’m not.
I just blog to help others learn but because they are my own experiences, I write what I know. I certainly don’t claim to be something I’m not which is why I think my blog has gone over so well. The same reason we are all drawn to you.
I love the way you write, the way you share what’s on your mind, the way you slap us in the face when we need it. I love the reminders to just be real because we really only want the people in our corners that appreciate what we share anyway right! That’s my view on this at least.
As always, enjoyed the post so keep them coming Mr. Jack B or whoever the heck you are! 🙂
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 8:53 am
@BetsyKCross “Loopy.” I like that word and I suppose that it probably describes me, at least sometimes. 🙂
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 8:48 am
@Lori Hi Lori. The quest for perfection and the fear of failure are opposite sides of the same coin. Either one of those can create issues for you. You are absolutely correct about the beauty of writing from a place that we have intimate knowledge of.
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 8:42 am
@KimDavies Hi Kim. I’d say that you are definitely heading in the right direction. I have had a lot of assignments where I didn’t know much about the topic so I can appreciate how challenging it can be to try and produce something solid.
The more time we spend practicing writing the easier it becomes to develop our voice and produce work that has more substance in it.
TheJackB September 1, 2011 at 8:39 am
@MSchechter I liked that post, there was a lot of truth in it. That line about nothing being original makes so much sense to me. Writing what we want to know is a smart idea. It stimulates our minds and fuels the fire and that is critical.
Late night stream of consciousness is a big part of my writing- just feels good.
Faryna September 1, 2011 at 5:18 am
I’ve come to appreciate how that guy comes out swinging – a chain saw whining in one hand, a cattle prod tucked in the pants, and combat boots ready to leave a beastly mark on someone’s face. I especially like how those combat boots are splattered with house paint and maybe yesterday’s lunch. Those boots belong to a daddy.
I didn’t come here for enlightenment. I come to see the guy (who wants people to call him Jack) come out of his corner swinging like a mad man because I know that the daddy in him is fighting for his life (actually, it’s a quality of life for him and his two kids). And I want that daddy to win. And win big. I want his kids to grow up in awe of their daddy.
Thank God that guy doesn’t dole out bad advice about how to be a blogging rockstar. Like him, I have no stomach for that post-apocalyptic pot of cream of mushroom soup that came out of tin cans that expired 10 years ago – not to mention the generous add of piss-tasting acid rain to feed all the growling stomachs. Jimmy (Stewart) would have turned in his grave if the smell traveled – if Jimmy hadn’t be assumpted into heaven this summer.
I’m not quite sure assumpted is a word. But assumption is and my English is crapping out because I speak broken English over here (almost every day) to get my point across.
It’s almost time for me to watch, It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ve watched it a hundred times. Or more. I don’t know many lines from it. And I can’t sing the song. But every time a bell rings in real life, I do think of Clarence.
BetsyKCross September 1, 2011 at 5:09 am
You made me laugh Jack. At first I thought,”HAHA! Jack’s getting loopy!” I love that word and use it when I feel thoughts and feelings flow; when they’re so close to the surface and I’m in the frame of mind to “tell it like it is” because it’s fun.
Lori September 1, 2011 at 2:25 am
I like the elements you include in your work to make it powerful (secrets revealed – thanks!) Years ago when I was writing my first book (never published) my professor said it was important to write about something you really know about. My next book (coming soon) is just that. What a difference both intellectually and emotionally, to write something out of your own experience.
Quality – yes, but that quest for perfection will paralyze, I think, like the fear of failure, or is it the same thing!?
Always nice to come by here Jack and talk about writing with someone who knows and cares about the art!
KimDavies August 31, 2011 at 9:59 pm
When my boss agreed for our company to have a separate blog and that I was to write for it, I expected to write purely about 3D rendering. I don’t know much about 3D rendering except that it amazes me and I love the images that our 3D artists produce because they really do look like real photographs. So, I had to do a lot of research before I was able to come up with the first few articles that I came up with for the blog. Then, I learned about writing with a voice, with a personality and with honesty.
So, I changed the course of my writing and introduced more of my personality into the posts. Although I still mention 3D rendering into my posts, I do so by relating them to personal experiences or to other stuff that makes life what it is because that is what I know more about. And, I think I am more comfortable hitting the publish button now than I did before. My posts may not be as good as others but at least I know that it is me talking there, there are no pretensions, just me and of course, my love for 3D renderings.
Thanks for sharing this, Jack. Made me breathe a little knowing that I am headed to the right direction. 🙂
MSchechter August 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm
“Write what you know and what you feel”
Now there are some words that constantly get me in trouble, but they are the only way I manage to get words down on the paper. Although after reading this: http://www.austinkleon.com/2011/03/30/how-to-steal-like-an-artist-and-9-other-things-nobody-told-me/, I’d have to add, “write what you want to know” as well.
Enjoyed the stream of consciousness. Used to be obsessed with the beats back in my heyday, put me in mind of that. Just working things out on the page, one word at a time with no road map or destination in mind. Thanks for the late night snack.