As writers, we constantly hear 'Write What You Know'.
really, what do we know? Sure, if you have a background in the
military you might be able to come up with some awesome political
thrillers. Or if you're a lawyer, you could write a believable legal suspense. Or
if you're a baker, you could write one of those cute mysteries with
recipes at the back.
Personally, my life is pretty
boring. If I wrote only what I knew, I'd never have a chance to get
published. I mean, sure, I did things out there in the world before I
started writing. But even then, that stuff was bland. Who wants to
read about a manufacturers' representative for electronic components? I
mean, besides the occasional funny anecdote about the engineer who
spent every one of our meetings talking to my breasts. Or the story of Suicide Squirrel. It's all cute, but there really
isn't a book's worth of interesting in any one of the things I've done.
that I'm totally trashing the whole 'write what you know' idea. It's a
perfectly valid suggestion. When you know about the things you're
writing, it lends authenticity to your work.
Still, I think there's something the people who use that as a banner are missing.
We can know things without knowing them. If that makes any sense. With the right amount of research, we can know a boatload of information without actually experiencing any of it.
That's right, folks, we can fake it.
We writers are masters at creating a false world. Did Jules Verne 'know' anything about time travel? Did Orwell ever experience a dystopian society? Was Anne Rice hanging out with vampires in her spare time? Nope. They faked it.
And you can, too.
I think what the phrase 'write what you know' really boils down to is getting to know your subject matter inside and out. Like I said, there's research to help with that. Beyond that, there's creating your world in your mind until you KNOW it inside and out. Plus, if you have little experiences you can sprinkle around, it makes your fakery feel all the more real.
Take a hobby you enjoy and make it your character's. Use an interest and give it to your MC. Find a memory and weave it a bit to make it someone else's.
So, don't sweat the 'write what you know' mantra so much. Write what you write to the best of your abilities and no one will doubt that you KNOW your subject.