“Write what you know,” they say.
Because, if you’re being reasonable, writing about things you know makes perfect sense. Who knows about that? You do! You should write about it so other people can know it, too!
Which is great if you’re writing a memoir. Or a non-fiction book. Or a historical tome. Or a collection of recipes.
But if you write fiction?
Fuck that noise.
Write about shit you know nothing about. Write freaky, fantastical, crazy, spooky, quirky, painful, emotionally eviscerating oh-God-please-don’t-let-this-ever-happen-to-me stuff. Write out every single thing that scares you or makes you question the universe or turns you on.
But while you’re busy throwing it all out there, writing what you don’t know and seeing where it takes you, remember this important caveat:
Write who you know.
Because you know these characters you’re writing about. Maybe one is you, in whole or in part or just who you’d like to be. Maybe one is your mother or your ex or that high school teacher that you just knew had a secret life. Maybe one is that elderly woman you saw sitting by herself in the park, or the kid wearing the superhero cape in the grocery store.
You’re a writer.
You’ve already put them together in your head the moment you saw them, or as you grew to know them. Make them a world and make them figure it out. Wound them. Scare them. Thrill them. Make them laugh and cry and fall tumbling into the dirt, skinned up and bloody and make them get up and get knocked down again until they spit blood in someone’s face.
Be just as excited as they are because, like them, you don’t know exactly what’s coming until you get there.
And for the love of all you hold holy, don’t leave those people, those wonderful people, moldering in your head because you’re consumed with writing the world as you know it.