This link was shared by Annette on the CBC course.
I think what’s behind “write what you know” is emotion. Like, have you known happiness? Have you ever been truly sad? Have you ever longed for something? And that’s the point, if you’ve longed for an Atari 2600, as I did when I was twelve, all I wanted was that game console, if you have felt that deep longing, that can also be a deep longing for a lost love or for liberation of your country, or to reach Mars. – Nathan Englander
When I taught creative writing at Princeton, [my students] had been told all of their lives to write what they knew. I always began the course by saying, “Don’t pay any attention to that.” First, because you don’t know anything and second, because I don’t want to hear about your true love and your mama and your papa and your friends. Think of somebody you don’t know. What about a Mexican waitress in the Rio Grande who can barely speak English? Or what about a Grande Madame in Paris? – Toni Morrison
So for a young author who says “I don’t know what to write about,” I’d say, what have you always wanted to know about? Go learn about it—if you want to know about it, probably someone else wants to know about it, and let your learning process be the catalyst for you to take other people on your learning process, through your novel. – Dan Brown
A great danger, or at least a great temptation, for many writers is to become too autobiographical in their approach to their fiction. A little autobiography and a lot of imagination are best. – Raymond Carver