It's natural I suppose when starting a voyage, to first pack the basics; the essentials, the boxershorts of the craft of illustration.
Howard Pyle, the granddaddy of American Illustration, had the essentials down pat:
"Paint ideas, paint thought."
He preached to his students to simplify, to pare things down so the idea dominates.
"They will never shoot you for what you take out of a picture."
My daughter who is now 10 has instructed me: "We can't just draw what is real, us artists have to draw what we feel!"