This is advice which is often given to authors, and it’s great. If you write what you know, you give it the depth of your experience. You can describe it more succinctly, draw your readers in. But there’s one drawback – if you only write what you know, what happens if you want to write about life in another planet? In a Fae world? There must be some room for flexibility.
I have also run into another piece of advice: write for yourself, first. If you enjoy what you’ve written, chances are that your readers will too. I like this philosophy, and it really works for me. The more I get caught up in the story emerging, the more I enjoy it, and I find my friends do as well. Plus, if I tell myself that it’s just for me, I’m more likely to finish it, to see where it ends.
Outlining, I do, but my outlines are also flexible, dynamic, constantly being reflected on and revised. I enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Finally, a good piece of advice I read once was on Stephenie Meyers’ website, I think — write your favorite scenes first, while you are inspired. I have tried doing this, and find that it is definitely helpful. Margaret Mitchell did this too. I don’t need to write in sequence, but I do find that I end up with more editing in the end. That’s okay, except I don’t like editing my own work. I recently had some tips on a draft I shared with friends, that work is needed on a few areas of inconsistency, but I think I need to finish the novel before I go back and fix it. Otherwise, I may get bogged down, and never see the end of it. And I soooo want to see the end, I know how it’s supposed to go, but when you see it taking shape on the screen, it’s so exciting!