Would you ever put yourself in a risky situation just to have something to write about?
Most writers in the 21st century write more through passive observation than active participation. On a general scale, we have more protection from external conflict than ever before, so it stands to reason that much of our understanding about unfamiliar situations is more intellectual than visceral.
But does that make our writing authentic?
This brings me back to a quotation a high school art teacher with really expressive eyebrows once told me: “Art imitates life.” Cliché, but true. Who wants to read fifty pages describing how you got up in the morning, made your bed (addendum: the protagonist is not a college student), brushed your teeth, got dressed…
Do you really want to put readers through the ho-hum of their daily routines?
I am not an advocator for self-harm, nor am I interested in inflicting harm onto others. But I am certainly not risk averse. Would I knowingly put myself in a situation—with a high degree of failure or adverse outcomes—simply to be more affiliated with the subject so I can write about it “authentically”?
I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Like Neil Gaiman said, “Go out and get your heart broken.”
Just come back and be prepared to write about it.