In last week’s post for the Crime Readers’ Association, I encouraged folk to read around the edges – straying into genres where they would not normally roam in anticipation of finding new jewels to discover.

Today, I’m looking at you, writers – what have you done to “read around the edges” this year?

The old, overused maxim “write what you know” looms large in the mind of the author, but it is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that we are static creatures, incapable of growth or new learning, stuck in some pot of knowledge gained up until the age of eighteen.

This is, of course, bullshit.

If you want to write what you know, get out there and know it! When I embarked on writing this period fantasy mystery, I knew my Victorian London knowledge was all but absent. So I enrolled on a distance learning course about The Victorian City, I bought and borrowed a few light history books, and I learned.

To say that knowledge is incomplete is an overwhelming understatement, but now I know what I don’t know, which is good position to start from.


If you’re writing about mental health but don’t know where to start, our monthly #psywrite Twitter chat can help. The last chat of 2014 is TONIGHT (December 16th) at 8pm GMT, so I hope you’ll join us. You can find all the storifys from previous chats on the Facebook Page.

I’ve seen a few writers already writing their New Year’s Resolutions (procrastination, much), so why not think about adding to yours:

Read What You Don’t Know.

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