The seemingly over-used advice, "Write what you know," is a mystery to a lot of young writers. What on earth does that mean? One objection I always raised to it was something along the lines of, "Well, I don't know about fantasy creatures, but I sure do write about them. So that advice is kind of dumb." Recently, I realized what it actually meant.
It's not kind of dumb. It's really kind of awesome.
I honestly don't feel up to giving a discourse on when we can truly know something (I'm on break, classes don't start for another two weeks), but what I can say is this: you can't read that advice at face value. Expanded and paraphrased, it actually means this: "You can't write everything, so know your limitations and write what you write best."
That may be as cryptic as the original advice. <sigh> Okay. Personal example time!
For years, I couldn't figure it out. I tried writing in many different genres and forms. I tried writing serials, I tried fantasy and time travel, I tried essays and so on ( may or may not have even tried fanfic. But those were dark days, my dear readers). However, after many fruitless efforts and self-evaluative therapy sessions (with Ally, of course), I came to realize that just because I could write didn't mean that I could write anything.
Boom. I felt like a failure. So for a while, I gave up creative writing altogether. I suppose I thought it a superfluous and childish thing. But then I realized that although it was a crushing revelation, the fact that I had limitations was actually a very liberating thing. If you know what you can't do, it becomes quite clear what you can do.
So children's literature - good, wholesome literature - is what I'm going to be focusing on in my writerly life. Pretty much from now on, too.
Except when I have to write papers. Thems gotta be written too.