Plumbers & “Write what you know”

Piers YoungNotesLeave a Comment

I’ve heard the statement, “Write what you know,” probably like a million times, but only a handful of times did that make any sense to me.

Teacher says, “Write what you know.”

Student begins to write. On the planet Jupiter robot warriors called Jenturions launched a . .

Teacher corrects, “No, write what you know and it needs to be real.”

Student thinks 4pm is what I know. It IS real to me.

The realm of reality offers many topics on which to write; I’m not knocking the personal narrative (not much). But it’s not the only harvestable crop. Stephen King urges us to broaden the statement of “write-what-you-know.” In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft he writes, “If you are a plumber, you know plumbing. But that is far from the extent of your knowledge; your heart knows things and so does your imagination.”

When I say to students, “Write what you know,” there are no strings attached. Stories are everywhere in the kid-mosphere. Kids love movies, video games, cartoons, and toys. The energy is incredible. Why not transform that energy into writing? Teach your students what I never was taught: to write down your imagination. It’s all there. It just needs to go from brain to paper with guidance.

From: Fantastical Enlightenment for Elementary Students


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