There is a lot of debate amongst the writing community as to how important Life Experience is to the process of writing. There are those who firmly believe that you can only write well if you’ve experienced things for your self and there are those who life vicariously through their characters using their imaginations to full capacity.
There are certainly valid points to both sides of the argument but what I have learned is that life experience is not necessarily proportional to number of years of life but rather it is related to years actually truly lived.
There are many adultier adults than me who live safely within their bubble wrapped lives never experiencing new things, and there are people in this world much younger than I who have experienced life more fully, some for good and some for ill.
The thing about experience is everyone’s is different and everyone is an expert in their own experiences. So everyone has something to say.
While it is true that you should write what you know, you can safely write anything within your field of passion whether you have actually experienced it in reality or just in your imagination, because let’s face it there are some things we really don’t want to experience. Does anyone remember the case of a writer who kidnapped someone because he wanted to know what it would feel like for his characters…
Breaking the law is bad people come on! Use your judgement, do you need to be a criminal to write one? Is the Internet not an awesome tool for information?
Use active imagination to put yourself in any character’s shoes. Feel what they feel and walk yourself through a scene in your mind…don’t go out there in the real world to experience it because breaking the law comes with consequences.
Having said that, if your character is an adrenalin junkie and you’ve always wanted to bungee jump great! Off you go for a safe thrill seeking rush that can help you understand how he/she might feel from more dangerous activities you can imagine!