Writers who are starting out are encouraged to write what they know. They are told that such an approach will lend an air of authenticity to their words, and will somehow be ‘easier’. It’s good advice, but it’s not great advice.
Rather than write what you know, write what’s important.
Research goes hand-in-hand with writing. If you’re a writer, you’re also a reader. You are also a researcher. You are the kind of person who can find stuff out – by talking to people, by networking, by using libraries, by asking questions.
No matter your genre, if you only write what you know, you’ll only write one book. You might publish several, but they will all be about the same thing, and get repetitive. The only way to grow as a writer, and to keep yourself and your readers happy, is to stretch yourself. The only way you can do that is by finding out about things you don’t know about, and writing about them in the way that only you can.
What annoys you? What intrigues you? What upsets you? What issue would you like to see highlighted? Write about that. Find the thing that fires you, that excites extremes of passion in you, and write about that. If you feel you’re not enough of an ‘expert’ on it, become one – or become enough of one to write authentically about it.
Then write. You’ll be following the advice of ‘writing what you know’, but you’ll be writing about what you know now, rather than what you’ve always known. You’re writing will, then, always be fresh, always ‘new’. It will keep you engaged, and be engaging for your readers.