We have all heard this advice but what does it really mean?   Looking out your window perhaps?   I see the same people walking past most days and if I studied them a little more closely they could become characters. 

What about your own friends and family?  Well I decided not to go down this route.  If,  by some chance, I ever get published, I wouldn’t want anyone to recognise themselves.  I might steal a few quirks though – do your own relatives recognise their own idiosyncrasies? 

My setting  is real but tweaked to suit my purposes.  I have moved it to another town because  I wanted a smaller community.  I have a place in mind to help me keep a sense of the size and atmosphere I am after. 

Some of my character’s traits will be my own – after all we know ourselves better than anyone else – but my book is in no sense autobiographical.

If you think about it, though, you can know anything if you put your mind to it.  

Writers Workshop advises spending several days and covering about five pages building each of your main characters.  By the time you have finished you will know this person inside out.   

Similarly you can research almost anything and learn enough to be able to say you know about it.

So write about what you know but always remember you can expand your knowledge.