Sometimes, I need a little reminder about why I write. This usually comes after a period of a few weeks of limited content, in which I’ve become increasingly frustrated and depressed by my lack of creativity, banging my head against the wall and wondering why I can’t come up with any original or interesting ideas. I always come back to the same answer: write what you know.
‘What I know’ doesn’t mean you’re going to get an essay on insurance law in the Philippines (thanks day-job) or a research paper translating Sumerian curses (thanks degree). I know a little bit about lots of things, but, for me, what ‘write what you know’ means writing about life as I am currently experiencing it. While I might be wishing that I was holidaying in Mauritius, or skiing in the Alps, or wandering the snowy streets of New York (can you tell I need a holiday?), my reality is very different. I could write a wistful, wishful fantasy travel piece, or I could put together a lookbook for the office Christmas party they forgot to invite me to, but they don’t reflect my real life, and are likely to sound as fantastical and unrealistic as they are.
My actual life at the moment is full of contrasts. I have a hole in my sofa and can’t afford to buy a new one, but I can afford to spend a small fortune on Christmas presents for my nearest and dearest. I have better friends than I ever have, but I feel isolated and unable to talk about some parts of my life. I feel more at peace with my decisions and standing up for what I want, but I’m less sure than ever about what that is. This is what I should be writing about. As with every post like this, every time I give myself a written reminder about what it is I want to be writing, I think this is it. I’ve solved it. The reality is that these reminders are a cycle, and I drift in and out of love with writing as I forget what it is I should be writing about. Here’s to the next cycle, and when in doubt, write what you know.