Write what you know (hereinafter "WWYK") ... ahh, the fickle relationship we have. Sometimes we hate each other, sometimes we're best friends.
Hate: I start something new, w/some plot line that involves medical issues. It screams: "What ... are you a doctor? No. Then you can't pull that off. Write what you know!" I give it the middle finger and (a) give up, (b) change the plot, or (c) do some research.
Love: When I'm in the middle of some scene/chapter/whatever, and suddenly this scene pops into my head from where I did this-that-or-the-other last weekend ... or when I have an idea for an MC in my head, and something I've learned about from my work adds another element of intrigue to my character. WWYK? H-E-Doublehockeysticks-YES!
Sometimes, the caveat "WWYK" holds me back, makes me feel like I can't do this-story or add this-subplot or give a character this-personality b/c it's not something I have a lot of experience with. Other times, I'm so intrigued by whatever it is that I DON'T know that I go figure it out so I can write about it.
For instance: I know a little bit about witches, at least through popular media. A month or so ago, a male MC popped into my head. He's a witch. Or a wiccan. Or whatever you want to call him. I did a little research just for kicks and moved on. About 2 weeks ago, this little convo happened.
Voice in my head: "Hey! Yoohoo! I know you're trying to sleep and all, but I'm running for my life and bullets are flying at me. Are you going to write about that or what?"
Me: "Umm ... You're a dude. I don't know dudes. Go talk to someone else."
Dude: "You being serious? My life is in danger and I chose YOU, and now you're telling me to find someone else?"
Me: "Uh, yeah. Channel someone who's not a chick laying in bed who's already in the middle of another WIP about other chicks."
Dude: "La de da ... doo doo dum dum ... doo be doo doo ..."
Me: "You're not going anywhere, are you?"
Dude: "Not until you get me out of here."
Me: Sigh ... "What's so interesting about you, anyway?"
Dude: "Remember that witch stuff you were looking up the other day?"
Me: "You were spying on me?!?"
Dude: "Who do you think led you to the website?"
Dude: "Yeah, kinda. But no worse than talking to yourself."
Me: "I'm not talking to myself. I'm talking to you."
Dude: "Well then pick up your laptop already."
Me: "Sorry. I don't really know witches."
Dude: "What? Yes you do."
Me: "Not really. Just what the media tells me is right."
Dude: "Well I'm not one of those Charmed weirdos. I wouldn't mind looking like that Covenant guy, but I wouldn't be caught DEAD in a speedo, so don't even think about it."
Me: "Are you at least interesting?"
Dude: "Hellooooo ... Miss the whole bullets flying at my head memo?"
Me: "Gahhh ... FINE. I give."
And I did. I wrote a brief intro to get Dude's thoughts onto paper--what he felt about his pursuit, why he was being pursued, whether he was going to get away. And then I did a little more research.
What I know so far: My MC is definitely a guy--no way around that. He's dark. He had a messed up childhood, a screwed up present, and a future that is going to be a blast to create.
Write what I know, you say? Fiddlesticks! I'll research what I need, and the rest is coming out of my messed up brain. And I have to say ... I'm kind of excited.