Comfort Zones

In contemplating the next book, one phrase keeps replaying through my mind.

Write what you know.

We’ve all heard it, but how accurate is it? If you write about what you know, what keeps you going? For me, part of the excitement of writing is learning about things I want to know. So a more accurate phrase for me would be, Write what you WANT to know. There are thousands of things I want to know, and because I’m a science nerd, they all tend to circle back around to some scientific topic or theme….archaeology, geology, medicine, and on and on.

My comfort zone includes anything scientific. The heroine in my WIP is a science teacher. I’ve included lots of little scientific facts here and there, and while most of them in this book don’t require a lot of research on my part (in this case I’m definitely writing about what I know), I’m still having fun looking things up and refreshing my memory from my teaching days. But I also stepped out of my comfort zone and added in a cop this time, which I generally steer clear of. Why do I steer clear of cops, you might ask? Because I don’t have any desire to learn about cops. I know I am law enforcement illiterate. There are lots of good cop-writers out there, and I’m smart enough to know I’m not one of them. I know nothing about procedure and rank and crime scene processing. And you know what I’ve learned? While I enjoy reading cop dramas, I have no desire to write them myself. My CP’s keep pointing out, “um…a police officer wouldn’t do or say this.” And all I can say in response is, thank God for CP’s! Because once this book is done, I’m not writing about another cop for a loooong time.

I don’t generally write about cops for the same reason I don’t write about lawyers or aliens or the Regency period. They’re all out of my comfort zone, I have no desire to research them, and writing about them causes more angst than they’re worth.

Hence, I will listen to the phrase, Don’t write about what you DON’T want to know. Because it will give you fits.

Of course, this may come back to bite me in the ass. My CP’s both write about cops, and they’re agented. I am not. Most of what you see on the bookstore shelves include cop or FBI dramas. Just look at what’s popular these days on TV…Law and Order, The Shield, CSI…all cop dramas. Does little ol’ scientific-topic RS writer over here in the corner stand a chance? I hope so. I like to think people want to read about things other than just cop dramas. Not everyone likes prime rib every night, all the time. Maybe I can be the rack of lamb they order once in a while, as a special treat. 🙂

So what is your comfort zone? What do you write about and why? And is there anything you don’t want to write about?