“Write what you know.” It’s the first advice given to new writers, but it’s invariably bad advice if you take it literally. Write what you know doesn’t mean your story has to be a carbon copy of your life. Nobody wants to read that, trust me.
On the contrary, ‘write what you know’ means you have to examine what you know, and also what you can research or learn. Because once you research or learn something, then you know it. Write what you know means you can literally write about anything, so long as you prepare.
Write what you know it also about experience and emotion. So yes, write about your dad’s red Ford Cortina estate with the traffic-light air freshener. Write about the fear of walking into your first gay bar. Write about the gut-wrenching pain you felt when that first woman broke your heart. But also, write about women from 1958, as I am in my upcoming lesbian romance, Big London Dreams. I wasn’t alive then, but I know how it feels to kiss a woman for the first time. To dance with a woman. I can put a magnifying glass on those emotions to hold the reader in the story, then shade in the period details once I’ve researched them.
Don’t be scared to write eras you haven’t lived, jobs you’ve never done, a gender you’ve never lived. Do the research, put yourself in the character’s shoes and truly feel their life. Then you can write what you know, because you know.