I read a really interesting article in The Writer magazine about how the concept of writing what you know makes very little sense. In his article, “Write what you know—and be sorry,” Kris Saknussemm drew comparisons to Mordor and bullet ricocheting around in a shootout and asked what author’s really knew what that felt like. I think the article raised some very valid points.
This phrase of “write what you know” is bandied about without taking the time to examine what it means. If you strictly adhere to it, you will be sorry because the scope of your story is severely impinged upon.
But I think the concept is valid in terms of emotions. If you have never had a moment of fear, can you really do the emotion justice? I think it should be: Draw on your experiences, but always leave room for the imagination.
What do you think? Should a writer stick to something they know, create something without any ties to this world, or aim for some middle ground?