This weeks topic is a great one for writers, I think. Do I write what I know or what I feel? Like JD, my answer is a YES on both counts.
There is a famous quote that says "To write well, write what you know." That is very true but only half of the equation. Knowledge is important to make your characters, plot, setting, etc believable in a story.
But you ask "Anastasia, as a fantasy writer, what do you need to know? You can just make everything up right?" WRONG! Writing fantasy requires just as much research, if not more in my opinion. And sometimes it might seem like the research I do has nothing to do with my story, but it does. I do a lot of research on government styles, cultures, traditions, etc. - all of them. Why? So that when I do go to "make everything up" I can present a believable world to the readers. Sometimes I even base my fantasy worlds on traditions and themes in our own. So I need to know about them before I can bend or break the rules for my new world.
But that's only half of the equation!
If you don't FEEl what you're writing - connected to it, love it, enjoy it - you're readers won't either. So while I know a lot about the Medieval Ages (technology, traditions, etc) if I didn't ENJOY or LOVE the time period, it would show in my stories. Or when writing my sci-fi, I think one has to LOVE space or technology and adventure to pull off a great sci-fi story. (Then again, that might be me.)
Regardless of the specifics of whatever genre you write, you have to love it. Feel it. I enjoy reading mysteries and crime novels but I don't think I could ever write one. I love to read them sure, but I don't love the minute details of the trade enough to write what I feel. The story would lack in my opinion. Sure, someday that might change, but right now, I'll stick with what I know I love - fantasy and sci-fi adventures.
So do you write what you know or what you feel? I say both are needed to create the best stories. Don't stress about the small details too much as you're writing people! That's what editors are for! Focus on your love for adventure and the seeming useless knowledge bouncing around in your head. My favorite quote is "I'm not dumb, I just know completely useless information" Well guess what? As a writer, none of that information is useless! Put it into a story! I promise if you put knowledge and feelings together, it makes for a great story - and you can always edit your grammar later!