When I was starting out most writing mentors advised: ‘Write about what you know.’ I echoed the same when I was teaching short screenplay writing.
In contrast-in my ad writing, I daily conjure up the dreams and voices of those unlike me. But I usually have a deck of stats and demographics close by.
There’s no research department for my solo writing projects (or proofreader so be forgiving). Probably why it’s taken me so long to accept that my main character and I have very little in common, except we’re both hetero females.
In the tumultuous tango to finish this new narrative-I’ve had to reprogram myself. Forget what you know! Just make it up. If it feels right for this character/story, then go with it.
When I find myself struggling to connect to my experiences, I remember August Wilson. I was blessed to know the two time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize when I lived in New Haven. He created a lot of rich characters in his quest to document each decade of the African American experience. One of my most vivid memories is running into him outside the corner diner and he rattled off something from one of his budding characters. She was over a hundred years old.
Considering how prolific he was in his short life, I’m convinced he didn’t obsess over relating-he created. Hopefully I’ll become more prolific if just let go of what I think I should know.