Guest Blogger: Wendy Ely on Write What You Know

When I first started writing I read every craft book I could get my hands on. I read “write what you know,” over and over again. This seemed like realistic advice and a great approach to the newbie writer that I was.


As I became more and more experienced, I pushed myself into writing outside of the comfort zone of what I knew. Jesse’s Brother takes place on a ranch in a small Oregon town. Guess what? I’ve never been on a ranch before and I’m a big city kind of girl so I didn’t have the experience other than the occasional trip to the local petting zoo. But I learned and was able to pull it off.


The biggest lesson that writing taught me was that “writing what you know” isn’t the most important thing after all.


One day at a book signing, some authors and I went on a short field trip to an astrology store. I love fairies and the store had a fabulous display of them. Well, later that night I found a submission request in my in-box. I got all excited over the idea that popped into my head. A fantasy romance with a matchmaking fairy! I started writing with excitement for this genre that was new to me. You see, I don’t read or watch or write anything that has to do with fantasy. I wrote and wrote but then got stuck! I haven’t had writer’s block in so long and couldn’t understand why it happened at that moment.


After reworking scenes, trying to add stuff, and continued to be stuck I figured out the problem. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story or the characters. Both had promise. The problem was that I didn’t believe in the story. Even when I tried working on one of my other WIPs I continued to be stuck until I finally discarded the novel because I didn’t think I was the correct person to writing that genre.


Now I believe it isn’t “write what you know” but it is “write what you believe in!”


Confessions cover


A teaser from my newest release:


Jordan slid to the side so she could position herself in front of the monitor and keyboard. His hand brushed her thigh, sending sparks through her. It took effort to remind herself that the task at hand was much more important than his thigh resting against hers, or his hand moving to the back of her chair and his fingers playing with a strand of her hair.


Denying the temptation was a lost cause. She wanted Jordan, and wanted him bad, but she could only admit it to herself. Even though she was supposed to be looking for her daughter, every part of her body yearned for Jordan’s touch.


Author Bio: Wendy Ely is a contemporary romance author. She writes some romantic suspense, really hot stories, and the wonderful happily-ever-after. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her own real-life hero and her two teenagers.


You can find Wendy:



Facebook fan page:

Amazon author page:

Twitter: @wendyelyauthor




7 Comments on “Guest Blogger: Wendy Ely on Write What You Know”

  1. Brenda says:

    I can’t agree with you more. When I read this, I was shaking my head. It was as if I was writing it.
    I have experienced the same thing and feel the same way.
    I too love fairies, but don’t think I could write about them, unless it was how I displayed them in my ‘Fairy Gardens’. Anyhow, also feel that way about SciFi and Vampires, etc. I don’t believe, I can’t write, end of story.
    When my novel moved to a tropical island, I went to the internet, and along the way I found a man that lives on the island to answer all my questions I couldn’t find answers for, now we’re friends. #WhataGreatWaytoMeetPeople
    p.s luv the teaser.

  2. Wendy – You only THINK you pulled it off. You didn’t. When you venture into territory you don’t know anything about, you’re going to say things that will take the reader who DOES know the subject out of the story. This happens to me ALL THE TIME!!! Do I write and tell the author? No. Consequently, they probably think they “pulled it off”.

    This problem of writing what you don’t know is so rampant that, at one point, I thought about posting all the mistakes I find online. I didn’t and I won’t because I just think that would be mean spirited, but it’s not fair to me – the reader who bought the book – to come up against a detail that makes me think, “What the hell? Ohhhhh. She’s a city girl who’s pretending to know enough about ranching to write a book set in that environment.” I think… wow, thanks a lot for taking me out of the story into a personal blunder.

    One of the reasons why I write in an alternate universe is so that, should I make such a mistake, I can just say, “It’s different there.”

  3. Sharon Moore says:

    My first book to get published, Streetwalker, is about a prostitute and her character arc to self-awareness and positive self-concept. To my knowledge, I don’t even KNOW a prostitute, but Carrie poured her story out through me. I agree, if you believe in your story, it works! Another good post, Wendy.

  4. Great post! It definitely gave me something to think about. It’s easy to fall into a rut and write what you are only comfortable with, but with some research and (like you said) confidence, you can still write a solid story. Still, in my experience, little pieces of “what I know” seem to make it into my story — even if it is a character’s taste in music or their high school job. Mixing what you know with what you don’t makes writing fun. Will people think you get everything perfect every time? No, but that’s because each person’s experience and vision is different. When you believe in your story and write it well, you can still offer readers an awesome book. Thanks again for sharing.

  5. Wow, what a great post! Wendy, I love how you got out of your comfort zone and turned it into something great! My story, THE RIGHT DESIGN, is definitely out of my comfort zone because I know nothing about design. I think the whole “write what you know” is a good advice for new writers, but after the first book, I’d like for writers to be challenged and write what they don’t know!

  6. C. K. Crouch says:

    I always freaked out over the write what you know stuff because my life is boring lol. I’m thinking are you serious? So I write all over the place. I have dabbled with fantasy/sci fi and historical and military. Currently I’m working on a solid military story and I think it is like you said, believe in what you write. Thanks for posting and Pepper thanks for having Wendy. :-)

  7. […] Guest Blogger: Wendy Ely on Write What You Know ( […]

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