Insecure Writers Support Group. If you're not familiar, the IWSG was founded by the incredibly cool Alex J. Cavanaugh, sci fi writer, movie geek and rockin' axe man. Here writers can air out all of our frustrations, insecurities and fears. We also encourage each other, share our triumphs and pass along any advice that we found helpful.
Today I'm going to have at that old adage "write what you know." I do not even know where this started, but it is probably one of the worst pieces of writing advice I ever received. Now, I know that this probably was meant to encourage me to get out those stories I had brewing about my personal experiences. It's also meant to urge that biologist to write that text book that had been brewing in her brain since she started at her local university. That's all well and good, but...
Why write only I know? Research and world building are part of the joy in being a writer. If you write only what you know, why bother researching? Learning? Why create a whole new realm? Creativity is a limitless gift, don't allow the words "write what you know" to curtail that power. Instead, use it as a stepping stone, maybe write about the alien invasion of your town. I created werewolves in my own neighborhood. Don't be afraid to write about fighter pilots or samurai because you don't know those worlds. Write what you want, what you'd love to read about. Your voice is yours and is only limited by you.
What was the worst piece of writing advice you ever received?