I think it’s a disservice when phrases make the rounds without proper context.
I experienced this when I was aggressively pursuing my fitness goals. I’m pretty methodical, and don’t deviate from what I know works: lift weights, sprint, eat real food (but not too much). But, I have friends on fitness forums/blogs confused by every “new” thing they hear on well-meaning news outlets and reality shows. Things like:
“Good carbs, bad carbs”
“Say NO to Cardio”
“Calories in, Calories out”
Within the fitness community, these phrases have context and when used and understood correctly, can help you achieve your physical fitness goals. Otherwise, these phrases can seem vague, meaningless, or contradictory and ultimately, can frustrate someone who really wants to achieve lasting physical changes.
Write What You Know.
I know most writers treat the phrase “Write what you know” cautiously, and have learned to deal with it in their own way, whether through modifying it, defining it, or defying it. I know writers who have defined the phrase broadly, such as researching more or tapping in to another person’s experience. I know others who have defied it by saying simply, “Just Write”. I kinda did all three when I chose to rephrase it as: “Write what you can dream.”
The crux of the statement that may hinder anyone outside of the writing community from taking that leap of faith into the writing world is that pesky “know”. But once you can overcome the limits you place on your definition of the word “know”, you will begin to feel a sense of freedom. Almost like you’ve given yourself permission to write as freely as you want to. I know I felt that way. I have often thought, “well, what’s the point in writing about that because I don’t know everything there is to know about it?” Once I changed my hangup around the word “know” and started believing in “write what I can dream,” my motivation and drive to accomplish my writing goal increased exponentially.
I will be talking more about inspiration sometime soon, but when it comes to “finding inspiration” (or what I call, filling up my dream well), I think Stephen King said it best: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” The more stories you consume the more fodder your subconscious has to work with. Snippets of your everyday will form great landscapes and endless worlds. All you have to do is feed your muses. Keep them entertained and eventually, they will deign to give you a few golden threads you can follow as you navigate your writing path.
SO TELL ME: What are some writerly phrases that you think send mixed signals outside of a writing community? Are there phrases that you have redefined along your writing journey that inspires you better? Thank you for commenting