Don’t ‘write what you know’, it’s boring. Be a little daring, my children.
‘Write what you know.’ always makes me grin, but then again I mostly write about an interstellar mercenary cult. If I were writing what I knew, I’d be dead. Of course, according to any sane standards (or at least a jury of my friends and peers, who may or not qualify as sane), I should be dead several times over anyway. And have the good sense not to laugh about it (I digress).
It’s something authors and wannabe authors hear a lot. ‘Write what you know.’ That little oft-cited piece of wisdom may well be the white fluffy pillow applied to the mouth and nose of many a promising fiction career. One of the problems with writing what you know is that a lot of other people probably know it too.
“Writers should not be in the business of propping up stereotypes.” ~ Douglas Adams
I’d prefer to tell new authors to step out of their comfort zones. Write something that’s going to diagonally-park someone’s brain in their humdrum existence of parallel lines. Write something that’s going to make them run away to join the Space Marines and leave their resignation nailed to their office door with their lunchbox.
I’d advise taking what you know, spreading it out flat, cutting it into interesting shapes, reciting the names of a few demons over it, shaking it vigorously in stardrive lubricant, and then give writing about it a shot. If nothing else, the fumes from the stardrive lube should have woken your Muse up.
Of course, enough research to be clear on the fact that there is no black hole between Earth and Mars is a good idea (true story). Research never hurts. Well, unless you’re one of my friends, who mislaid their bag with one of their notebooks in it, and got picked up and questioned by the police because part of their plot was notes on how to dispose of an unwanted ex. (Seriously, you can’t make this shi*t up.) Or…I digress again.
Instead of ‘write what you know’ coming in on every channel, let’s try a little ‘write something new and different’, or ‘write whatever you can’t stop writing.’