Write what you know but also write to learn what you don’t know yet.

Repetitive writing advice is to write what you know. When applied to writing a book it makes sense because you want the story to invoke confidence in the reader. A reader doesn’t want to read about details that give away how the author has stumbled her way forward. They want to be absorbed with what seems like an effortless telling of a story.

However, as a writer, I often only come to know things through the act of writing them down.

And the stories I enjoy writing the most are the stories where I am still learning something new while writing them down.

So when it comes to first drafts and journaling, I leave room for writing down what I don’t know.

It falls into two parts. Factual and tangible stuff and the emotional layers of experiences.

Learning new things

The speculative fiction book I am writing is on hold while I am writing a draft for a memoir. But I jot down every time I come across something I can research later on for the world-building part. This week it was an article about the eight continent found underwater.

Apart from research for the book, I also revisited some study notes.

I used to study theology so, I have quite some knowledge in this field. Now and again, I like to brush up on what is going on in the area of systematic theology. This week I came across a topic I haven’t dived into before called astrotheology. It takes part in the conversation between theology and science and offers a discussion about the vast space and what theology can bring to the table if other lifeforms are to be found in the universe.

NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars on the 18th of February 2021 if all goes according to plan. This is to collect samples of rocks and soil and to seek signs of ancient life.

If this seems the most boring or out there topic, don’t fret, this is just an example of following your curiosity. What was the latest new thing you learned about a topic you are interested in? Please share in this post on Instagram. I would love to learn something new.

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Excavate new layers of emotions

While I wrote this post, I wanted to know if I could use the word excavate to describe what I wanted to say so I looked up the word.

And by doing so went down the rabbit hole of the meaning of words.

This confirmed my understanding of the word excavate and I then went on reading about the archaeological term stratigraphy. When on-site, stratigraphy is the process of going through the layers the right way when digging and a way to describe the relationship between the layers.

My mind went to emotional layers and, I liked the somewhat cliched comparison with archaeological. It is not just about digging deeper and deeper you have to understand the different layers and the interconnectedness the years have mingled in. This uncovering is what journaling does for me. But I also want to apply this to the memoir I am writing.

While writing the memoir, I have tried to apply the principles from Save the Cat writes a novel. It has helped me make it more story-worthy. I am now in the process of rewriting the first draft, which means adding more emotion to the mix and not just descriptions.

So I want to apply some of the things I am learning from another book about writing. The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Mass. The memoir is of cause, not fiction, but I want the reader to go on an emotional journey of their own as the author puts it on page 2 of the book.

I also think that is why a launch of an aircraft captivates a lot of people. The excitement and anticipation are so tangible. On the 18th of February, I will imagine the rover on Mars driving around like Wall-E. A main character that invokes a lot of emotion.

If this blog post seems a little bit all over the place, it is because it is an example of the practice of writing what you don’t know put into use. I picked a prompt card which, I brainstormed into being about writing what you know. Then I wanted to write down some of the new things I learned through the week, which led me to see how even if the projects are not related the life as a writer keeps it all related to each other.

So I can feel all over the place but what writing this blog post taught me is that it is all connected when I apply it to the understanding of myself as a writer. Life as a writer is a life of curiosity. Sometimes that leads from an underwater continent and all the way to Mars and back again.

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