|Old Mill, Oil Painting by Irene S. Kierce|
That does not mean a writer can jumble together a series of episodes and expect it to be a book. A novel has to make sense. It has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most of the time, life doesn't make ANY sense, but fiction should lend the impression of reality. It is more real than real life.
When a writer has gone through a particular life experience, he or she can detail that time with such truth that it will resonate with readers. Writers are often told to write what they know. However, a writer doesn't have to break a leg to write about that type of pain. If the writer's sister broke her leg, the author would have a very good frame of reference to include that situation into his or her own story.
I don't have to get a divorce to understand the trial of that separation. I have friends and relatives who needed to vent when they were enduring the terrible dissolution of their marriage. I was a sympathetic listener. Really, that's all it takes.
Being a good listener is one of the best things an author can do to improve their writing. Everyone has stories to tell. If you want to put a mountain climber in your story, but you haven't climbed a mountain, find someone who has and would enjoy telling you about it.
Everyone's life experience can be your "grist for the mill." Keep your ears open. You could become a better writer.