Write What You Know… Or What Your Cowriter Knows


Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

If you haven’t experienced the country lifestyle, you probably can’t write about it believably.  Write what YOU know – don’t try to out-redneck a redneck.  However, if your cowriter is a legit country boy or girl, draw from his or her experience.  This expands what you can write about believably.  Teamwork.

God Bless,



Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!  Are there any topics  you’d like to see addressed in a future MvR post?  Thanks!


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6 thoughts on “Write What You Know… Or What Your Cowriter Knows”

  1. I respectfully disagree. I believe it was Guy Clark who goes down as the first to say “write what you know”, but in recent years even he has crawfished a little on that statement. He’s clarified by saying (I’m paraphrasing) you can “know” something by learning it from a book or hearing it from someone or even seeing it in a movie (I.e. Cash’s Folsom Prison). Being careful with the details can allow you to pull it off believably. Ive written on subjects that I know nothing about but learned of them while writing. Sometimes research is a great cowriter. Even still, a missed detail can be overlooked in a great song (again to use Mr. Cash’s classic as a reference-why did he go to prison in California for shooting a man in Reno?). Anyways, just my thoughts. Thanks for the post Brent, looking forward to more.


    1. Great points, Mike. Yes, you can “know” something without having lived it. And I guess it also depends on how strong your craft is. Empathy and observation can allow you to step into another person’s shoes. I think the trick is (whether you’re writing something you’ve lived or not) to drop in details that are believable and not cliche. Add details that “only” a person who has been there would know, yet ring true to the average listener. The danger for young writers in writing what they don’t know is that they’ll write something cliche or not believable. Thanks for adding to the conversation, Mike!

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