When I was in college, all I wanted to study was writing. It made sense at the time: Writers need to know how to write in order to write. So I didn’t study anything else that would distance me from my writing.
I only read the classics to study the craft of the story. I only read nonfiction books that elaborated on the art of writing.
These are great things to do as a writer. But it’s not the only thing you should be doing.
I went straight from undergrad to grad school (in writing, of course). When I sat down with my cohort for the first time to read our stories aloud, I had a reality check.
One peer shared his story about living at Yellowstone and hitchhiking back home. Another shared his story about balancing fatherhood and a full-time job. A third shared her story about finding her biological mother.
They were all doing something that I wasn’t. They were living life.
It seems simple when put that way. But writing books zoom in on adding alliteration and commas, not getting the writer out of one’s comfort zone. Novels and classics are screaming about it from cover to cover, but writing students are so focused on a specific scene that we miss the whole concept of plot development.
What makes writing so enjoyable to read are the experiences brought to it. Creative writers need to understand human interaction, see new places, and try new activities in order to create well-rounded characters and climatic plot arcs.
Nonfiction writers also need to apply life experiences. Historical writers visit ancient landmarks, technical writers practice building and medical writers watch surgeries and studies.
I had my eye on the prize to become a writer. I put my life on pause and went to school to bring myself a step closer to it. But I didn’t have any experiences to write about until I pressed play.
So this is my blog post explaining why I have been absent for three weeks. I was experiencing life. Life didn’t get in the way of my writing. Instead, life called me to step away and absorb what was happening in the moment in order to bring perspective to my writing.
I packed up my car and drove 2,000 miles across the country. And I saw this.
How does this story end? I can’t tell you that yet. I’m only in the middle of it myself. But I can tell you that I’m not afraid to live the story.
How has living life impacted your writing? Share your story below.