But what happens when you want to write about someone whose experiences don't resemble yours in the slightest?
I actually think sometimes this isn't as big a deal in fantasy and sci-fi. Because, sure, your MC might be a bipedal green half-cat-half-human (or, more commonly, a nominally middle class human used to hanging out with bipedal green half-cat-half-humans). But you get to make up the whole of that world, so you can make up circumstances that feel right to you.
Then there's contemporary fiction with not even a hint of the speculative. And that, to me, is where things get really tricky.
Because I can yodel on all day about the malfunctioning magic of my half-sprite hero, but when you're talking about a person who has experiences that real people will relate to and be able to verify or dismiss as outrageous... that's scary.
I prefer to sit at the keyboard and smile as the words stream out of my fingers like those zoom lines in Tron.
But my last novel (coming soooooon...) has not been like that. It's been a lot more of sitting and agonizing over each. 500. Word. Increment. Because this heroine whose experiences and character are so different from mine, what would she think? What would she do?
There's nothing wrong with writing what you know. I'll be back to it shortly and gratefully. But, as difficult as this has been, I'm glad I did it. I think I'm a better writer for it.
P.S. The Hard and the Easy is also the name of an album by Great Big Sea! Have a song that iTunes tells me I have replayed an embarrassing amount of times.