a writer, I'm sure you've heard the advice to
write about what you know. Makes sense, doesn't
it? I mean, how do you write about things you
I've been fascinated by various subjects for many
years. In the last six months, my favorite
interests and a new discovery came together to
form my latest manuscript - a 42,000 word novel
for young people aged 10 to 14. I don't claim to
know everything about these subjects but I'm
reading, experiencing and learning.
Therefore I'd like to add my own modification to
the above advice.
Write about your passions!
When I wrote my latest manuscript, I didn't draw
on great personal experience or first hand
knowledge. I had to spend a month reading and
researching the gaps in my knowledge - and there
were plenty - before I started writing. I wanted
to learn as much as possible, so I could write
about what I know. The more I learned, the more
passionate I became about these subjects. I'm
still devouring these subjects through books,
television and the internet.
Passion inspired me. I found things I didn't know
and turned them into things I know, and I became
passionate about them. What I lack in personal
experience and first hand knowledge, I make up
for with passion to learn and explore.
You can write about what you know but if you're
not passionate about it, who cares?
To me, passion is the extra ingredient. Passion
can help you turn what you don't know into what
you know and then into a manuscript.
Another thing writers often hear is: "Where
do you get your ideas?"
The question isn't always easy to answer because
sometimes ideas seem to pop into our heads out of
the blue, as if from nowhere. In my opinion
"nowhere" is actually the subconscious
Our conscious and subconscious minds absorb
everything around us. Our experiences and
memories become part of the subconscious mind.
When an idea seems to pop into our heads, it's
the subconscious mind that gives us the idea from
our stored experiences and memories. The
experiences and memories may be new or they could
Apparently we don't forget anything. Everything
is stored in our subconscious mind. The problem
is our ability to recall information.
Can you remember a time when you simply couldn't
think of an answer to a question? Perhaps you had
trouble recalling the name of a movie. It was on
the tip of your tongue. Later, the answer popped
into your head. The problem wasn't the loss of
memory but rather a problem with accessing the
My latest manuscript was a different experience
for me. No popping into my head, though I'm sure
my subconscious mind was still involved. The plot
came slowly and, when it finally did, I realized
my life's experiences and interests came together
in this one story.
Okay, perhaps not every one of my experiences.
But my main interests, my passions, were evident
in the story. My subconscious delved back into my
childhood to remind me of an earlier interest.
When I was a child, I loved reading the Nancy
Drew, Hardy Boys and Famous Five series, as well
as other mysteries. I remember reading a Hardy
Boy's novel called "The Mystery of the Aztec
Warrior". This novel got me interested in
the Aztecs and, through further reading, I became
interested in the Inca and the Maya. At the time,
I was particularly intrigued by the ancient Maya
of what is known as the Classic Period. For some
reason, I felt a connection to the Maya.
Time went on and my life changed. I grew up, left
school, got a job and married. I forgot about the
Or did I?
Fast forward approximately 25 years.
The ancient Maya are a passion of mine. Once
again, I feel a connection to this amazing early
civilization. I read everything I can about them.
They fascinate me and I believe we can learn a
lot from them.
However, the ancient Maya didn't inspire my
latest manuscript. My initial idea had nothing to
do with this classic civilization. In fact, when
I first started thinking about what I wanted to
write, I'd still forgotten my interest in the
Maya. I had no idea my passion would resurface
after approximately 25 years.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, my
passions came together to create my latest
manuscript. The ancient Maya are one facet - one
passion. Who knew I'd include them in a plot?
My other passions, which are also part of my
latest manuscript, are newer interests. Mainly
because times are changing. We've become more
accepting, open-minded perhaps, and science
continues to advance.
My final plot involved at least three of my
passions, and they are my main interests. I've
immersed myself in these subjects, learning
everything I can about them. Hence, my advice to
write about your passions. I know about the Maya,
for example, because of my passion for these
people and their history. Without the passion,
I'd have no knowledge. Therefore I write about
what I know - my passions.