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Write About What You Know
- Your Passions/Interests

by Robyn Opie Parnell

If you're 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 don't know?

I've been fascinated by various subjects for many years. In the last twelve months, my favorite interests 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 firsthand knowledge. I had to spend several months 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 and, well, because I was fascinated by these subjects. The more I learned, the more passionate I became, and 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, because I became passionate about them. What I lack in personal experience and firsthand 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?

Once upon a time, I knew nothing about these subjects. I couldn't have written about them.

Okay, let’s go back about eight years. This is the first time I saw a psychic/medium on TV. He was amazing. His accuracy astounded me. From that moment on, I watched every TV show I could that featured psychic mediums.

Next, like many people, I became interested in the law of attraction. For the last twenty years, I’ve been a big fan of the power of positive thinking, so it was natural for me to investigate the theories of the law of attraction.

For the last two years, I’ve known I wanted to write a novel that involved the paranormal because of my interest in this subject. But I didn’t know what to write. I had a few ideas but nothing that really grabbed me.

Instead, while I waited for the idea that would inspire me, I wrote a non-fiction manuscript on the law of attraction. I’m hoping this work will be published soon. Fingers crossed!

Still, I didn’t have the right idea for the paranormal novel.

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 (250 AD to 900 AD). 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 got married. I forgot about the Maya.

Or did I?

Late last year, my partner and I sat down to watch a documentary. After the documentary, my interest in the Maya of the Classic Period was reignited. I started reading about the Maya and once again became passionate about this ancient civilization.

An idea began to smolder in my mind. The Maya, the spiritual side of the Maya, their relationship with life and death, their beliefs about deceased ancestors, their system of calendars, the end date for this period 21st December 2012…

So, I found myself plotting my novel. Then I was writing my novel.

My final plot involved my main interests, my passions: the paranormal, Quantum Physics and the Maya. 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 instance, 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.

So when people say to "write about what you know", you don't have to be limited to your own personal experiences. You can write about what you know in regards to interests, passions, even if you don't know these things from firsthand personal experience.

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.

Once upon a time, my three passions were what I didn’t know. They became what I know, though, I readily admit I still have a lot to learn. But, as these subjects are my interests/passions, I'm happy to continue learning and as much as possible.

I also hope to keep writing about my passions!

Copyright Robyn Opie Parnell. All Rights Reserved.

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