Writing Prompt: Write What You Don’t Know

Shutterstock / Salinee_Chot © write what you don't know

At this week’s Writing Hour on Twitter we asked, “What popular piece of writing advice do you ignore?” Write what you know made up 30% of the answers!

Writing what you know is good advice and can, of course, make for brilliant stories. Perhaps you enjoy writing stories based where you grew up. There are limitless storylines to explore there. As long as the characters and scenarios are different, there is nothing to stop you and nothing wrong with this.

There will always be a little bit of something you know in a story – love, loss, family dynamics, friendship, etc.

I think the issue some writers have with this advice is that it can sometimes become a box the writer can’t escape from. It can trap writers into thinking that they can’t write about anything else which can sometimes start to make their stories feel stale.

If you feel the need to shake things up, then hopefully this will encourage you to try it.


What job would you love to do? If you hadn’t become a writer, or if different opportunities had been available to you, what path would you have gone down?

Detective? Scientist? Astronaut? Ballerina? Athlete? Pirate!?

Live in your dreams for a while and write a story about a character who went down the path you never got to explore!


What’s on your bucket list that you haven’t yet ticked off? Would you love a trip to Australia? Try out bungee jumping? Meet your favourite author or ride in a hot air balloon?

Send your character off to do it for you while you wait to do it yourself!

An interesting experiment would be to write a story about an experience before doing it and then write a story about the experience after.


Take a look at the characters in your stories. If they were all lined up, would they have the same age, look, mannerisms, personality, life experience?

Identify similarities and try something new.

The key to writing what you don’t know is research. Go into it as though it’s a story set in the Victorian era. You don’t have first-hand experience, but you can read up on it.

Let your imagination run wild!

Click here for more writing prompts from the Fiction team.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.