I used to think that I had to write 24/7.
Even when I was doing research for my current novel, short-story or magazine article, I felt guilty that I wasn’t tapping away at my keyboard.
I resented my j-o-b, and I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes my children when they were toddlers, because they all kept me away from my destiny.
I’m wiser now.
I’ve learned the best thing I can do to improve my craft when I’m not writing is to…
But, Writers Write
Of course, they do. The only way to make your literary dreams come true is to work hard. Shut up, sit down and write. That takes time — hours and hours for weeks, months, or even years.
However, one of the best things about writing is that EVERYTHING happening in our lives can be used in our stories. Fiction or nonfiction.
That means when my family zip-lined .25 miles over Palo Duro Canyon (the second largest canyon in the U.S.) this summer — that helped my writing.
That means the knock-down drag out I had with a friend over her marital affair — that helped my writing, too.
This first scenario invigorated me. It took me out of my comfort zone, and fueled my creativity.
The second frustrated the hell out me. I felt both helpless and angry. Someday, one of my characters will use those emotions in a fictional situation.
A Tale of Two Writers
I know two authors who’ve each been paid over six-figures for their books. Multiple times.
The first woman does pretty much nothing but write. She can’t talk much more beyond books, writing or publishing.
The second gal is equally committed to her career, but also loves to ride horses. She keeps them on their farm and makes time to ride almost every day. She even competes in barrel racing when possible.
Both have enjoyed great success, but writer #2 seems to have a richer life.
What That Means For You
After you’ve put in your writing hours, don’t feel guilty about experiencing your world.
Enjoy dinner with friends.
Take a walk, or a bike ride through your neighborhood.
Read a different book than your favorite genre.
It’s okay that you don’t have a perfect life. Nobody does. Remember, everything can be used in your craft — the good, the bad and the ugly.
A Writer is the Sum of Their Experiences
My husband and I recently watched a movie with Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connally. Stuck in Love is about a family of writers who undergoes heartache and happiness in the course of one year. It’s much more about dysfunction than writing, but three out of the four main character are writers.
To me, this scene says it all:
Dad (Greg Kinnear): “Your sister’s a great writer and it’s because she’s courageous in her life.”
Son: “She’s promiscuous, Dad, it’s not the same thing.”
Dad: “Rusty, a writer is the sum of their experiences. Go get some.”
Now, you don’t have to be loose like Rusty’s sister, but you do need to get life.
How will living more fully help YOUR writing? Leave me a comment. If you like this post, please pass it on to friends.
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