As far back as I remember people said to ‘write what you know’. They’re still saying that today. Hmm….
I agree with this statement, depending on the genre you write. If you write historical how can you ‘write what you know?’
In this case I believe write what you know means a lot of research so you’re familiar with the genre, the clothing, the architecture, the language, occupations, the morays of that time. In other words, immerse yourself in that genre until you feel part of it. Then write it.
If you’re writing contemporary anything, you should be comfortable with your location and setting, occupations, language and age, beliefs and our culture and challenges. I've read books where Hotel is in Victoria, on Vancouver Island in BC. You have to take a ferry from Vancouver to get there. And if you’re going to commit a murder, learn about guns, poisons, fighting techniques, etc.
Westerns and horror genres can fit in with historical and contemporary. The author then needs to know about the genre and research the addition information on the addition. For example, learning about ranching, horses, guns of the time, etc.
When it comes to other genres, sci-fi and steampunk, I don’t write these, but I believe the author must create a world where they set the story. Like the historical genre, they fit in with the statement of ‘write what you know’. Instead of researching for a historical for example, the sci-fi author develops their own world. They need to develop and be familiar with the clothing, architecture, language, occupations, religions, and morays of the world. They become familiar with the world they develop.
Targeted - A ranch in Montana, a Native American, and a paranormal touch. I researched the Blackfoot Tribe, mostly on line. Also at a museum, (part of the Nation is in Canada), and in an online class. The ranch life I posted to a loop and got info from people who live on cattle ranches. And I have a friend is is a psychic.
So, an author should ‘write what they know’ or know what they want to write about. Your thoughts?