As someone highly imaginative, I’ve always been confounded that people urge you to only “write what you know.” I grew up as a white kid in the South and the first play I wrote that got some real traction was produced in NYC several times throughout high school in various festivals and about two cleaning ladies in the 1950s doing an overnight cleaning shift. One was Black, the other white; it was a poignant play about class, their past, and finding common ground. What facilitated me writing that was a fascination with what that conversation would actually be like and digging in that world to try to find some structure to it–not that I had clearly ever (in any way) experienced that firsthand.
Granted, I was in high school, and I’ve moved on to write some pretty wild pieces that don’t have anything to do with my own direct experiences.
Always curious about this topic. What do you all think? Here’s an (older) Atlantic article urging us to discard the “write what you know” adage. Thoughts?