Most writers have heard the old adage to "Write what you know."
It's a great piece of advice for writers, old and new. It reminds us that even though we are writing fiction, there is plenty of material in the real world we can draw from. We can use our experiences, relationships, and knowledge as a foundation to build our stories upon.
Personally, I know a lot about living in Detroit and its suburbs, in Texas, especially the DFW area, and even a little about Europe. I've visited a ton of different places as a kid and grown up. These are ready-made settings I can use whenever I want to.
I know what it's like to be an adopted child (my mother is my biological mom, while my father adopted me when he married her). I know how it feels to never know my biological father. I know what it feels like to leave everything behind and go to a place I've never been before and build a new life.
+ + = Leap of faith!
I know what it means to return home after being gone for many years to find somethings the same and other completely changed. I know what it is like to deal with many things (both good and bad) because of my relationships with others.
I've learned a lot about various subjects through studying and living. I know what it's like to be a youth minister, a librarian, a writer, and much more through my work-experiences.
However, these aren't the only things I feel comfortable writing about. I love to read and write fantasy (and sometimes science fiction). This is where the old adage doesn't always go far enough. My imagination wants to write about more than just "what I know." It likes to ask "what if this or that." It strives to create something original and unique and I do, too.
This is why I want to expand upon the old adage. If I was to re-write it for me it would be:
"Write what you can imagine!"
flowers that bloom into hearts!
bunnies wearing pancakes!
All of these came not from writing (or illustrating) what their creators knew, but from imaging something new!
So don't be limited to writing (or illustrating) just what you know, but strive to stretch those brain cells to imagine something no one else has. Try to see the world around you not only through the lenses of your real-life experiences, but also through those what ifs that have never happened to you, might never happen to you. Go to the places you can only visit in your head and find those wondrous settings you need for you story. Go out and explore the uncharted places of your own mind and find something special only you can bring to life because only you have imagined it.
So, what have you imagined today?