If you don't know your own character and can't get into its head, heart and soul, I doubt you should bother.
Booksquare posted this most hilarious article from The Onion: First-Time Novelist Constantly Asking Wife What's It Like To Be A Woman.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and literary critic John Updike agrees.
"Someone should have thought of asking these questions earlier," Updike said. "If only Tolstoy had thought of this, Anna Karenina might have been a more memorable novel."
Despite the hilarity of the piece, it is a problem many beginning writers struggle with. They wonder if their portrayal of a character from the opposite gender, a different religion, different cultural background etc. is accurate or realistic. To that I say that authors must trust their own individual understanding of humanity. Just like humanity is diverse, so are writers and their writing.
Of course , it's always beneficial for writers to be able to see, hear and feel the people around them. Writers should be as sensitive to people as they are to their surroundings. And sometimes, especially when it comes to cultures and religions, some research can be most beneficial.