25 May

Live to Write, Not Write to Live...


I get it.

As a writer, sometimes the only freedom you feel, the only way you feel alive, is behind the keyboard, saying on the screen what you might not be able to say in person.

If that fact didn’t exist, doubtful books would have ever become a thing.

But, as a new writer, often obsession takes over reason, and you end up thinking the only way to live is to write, abandoning your life away from that keyboard.

Das ist nicht gut, as the Germans say.

It’s living your life that enables you to be a writer, for if you didn’t experience, if you didn’t participate in this global human experiment we call life, no words would spring to mind, no issues to analyze, no emotions felt.

That obsession to hole up and live with your keyboard will, sooner more than later, have you dive into deep Writer’s Block, as paralyzing as writing yourself into a corner with nowhere to turn.

As you schedule your writing life, remember to pencil in your worldly life.

Visit family, friends. Listen to what they have to say about their slice of this human experiment.

Grab a coffee at a shop, and overhear others’ conversations.

Take a walk, hike a mountain, go fishing with no intention of catching fish.

Hit the road, make no plans.

Breathe. Be.

For in those living moments where your keyboard has no place will be when ideas spark, sentences come out of nowhere in your mind, sensory feelings give birth to opening scenes, closing scenes, firming up mushy middles.

And above all, keeps that writer mind of yours from slowly going insane. We know insanity is a thing with scribes. Maybe not always the drooling, padded room kind, but a slow narrowing of one’s life. I could list renowned writers whose worlds imploded because they simply forgot to go out and live, but I’m sure you have your own list.

HOMEWORK: In your writing week, schedule at least one or two times when you close that laptop and be a normal person. Engage your ears and eyes and fingers. Listen, look, feel. Or, as one of my profs said years ago, Be a Sponge. Soak up the world around you. Try NEW things, and be gleeful you’re lousy at them!

Only through a rich personal life can you produce rich prose. Anyone who tells you different is a four-star idiot, who is hole up under his rock, inside his cave, only to peek out every now and again, and gripe at those who have the courage to climb out from underneath, and find reasons to write spectacularly well when they return.

No comments: