I could spend all day talking about the craft of writing. And, most of the time, that’s what ends up on this blog. I know. I’m like a broken record, with “scratch scratch, story arc, story arc, story arc” on endless repeat.
But today I have one piece of writing advice to you. It’s easy and difficult at the same time, though I can convey it to you in one word:
If you stay inside all day, fingers glued to the keyboard and a butt-shaped dent forming in your office chair, what have you got to write about? How do you write a good fight if you’ve never been in one? How do you write a good romance if you’ve never fallen in love?
Go out. Meet people. Watch people. Ride a bike. Ride a skateboard. Lie in the grass in a park. Go on a blind date. Go to a new bar and strike up a conversation. Try a food you’ve never tried before.
Join a volleyball team, even if you can’t play volleyball. Take a day trip. Take an overnight trip. Go hiking. Go camping. Go hunting.
Visit a family member you haven’t seen in years. Ask strangers questions. Ride the bus.
The experiences that influence my writing the most are the ones I didn’t expect. Reconnecting with an old friend and having it turn into something more; going out for dinner on a Tuesday night and not coming home until 3am, and having made five new friends; trying on clothes belonging to my friend who passed away, and marveling at how they fit perfectly (and then crying for a while); setting up a typewriter outside a coffee shop and showing kids who have never seen one before how it works.
Have you ever done a really intense workout and felt lightheaded afterwards–almost high? I have this every time I experience something wild and interesting and new and emotional, out in the real world. When I’m recovered enough to slingshot into a desk chair, creativity pours out like my mucous during this last cold season. My muse lands on my shoulders and covers me with her huge, batlike wings, and my writing is metamorphosed. It has a fluid, airy quality to it; something whole and thick it didn’t have before.
So go out. Try a Korean taco. Walk around in a new part of town. Introduce yourself to a stranger. Have a strong, loose-leaf tea instead of coffee. Push your writing to the next level.
If you spend your whole life writing and none of it living, what will you have to write about?