He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write.
He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.
Last Saturday night I attended a party as the culmination of the Woodward Library Summer Reading Program. I read a couple of my old favorites, Jack London’s White Fang and Michael Crichton’s Prey. I also read Bob Dylan’s and Woody Guthrie’s accounts of themselves and their lives. I stepped into an Amish romance and science fiction about regenerating body parts.
I also ventured into new waters and stretched myself, delving into new reading adventures. At the same time I was busy formatting my books for ebook distribution, studied Nancy Kress’s book, Dynamic Characters, dusted off an aging manuscript and started a new book collection of columns such as this one.
Writing this down, I suddenly knew where my time went over the past couple weeks. A friend wondered where I got my recent energy. I can’t account for it but am glad it arrived when it did. Immersing myself in reading and writing stirs my creative energy and keeps me moving ahead. A far cry from my first high school writing assignment which I considered a form of torture.
I started writing seriously for my own amusement. Then I wrote as a marketing effort. As I moved into middle age, I started wondering about my experiences and those of people I encountered. I found that writing about adventures (of others and my own) helped me make sense of them and gave me a framework in which to begin understanding the world and its inhabitants, myself included.
Along the way I have spent years following Thoreau’s advice to start each day with a list of things which give me a sense of gratitude and Julia Cameron’s suggestion of writing three pages a day about whatever comes to mind. Both have helped me with my writing, the first is keeping a positive attitude and the second with honoring my creativity.
So now what? Am I going to suggest that everyone become a writer? No. Some people think they could write a book if they only had the time. Others would like to write but never put pen to paper. Still others acknowledge that they could never write anything of substance. I don’t know which if any of these people are right. I do know that you never know if you don’t try.
Even if you don’t aspire to write a great novel, writing might help you gain some perspective on your life and the world around you. On a smaller scale, you might get to know yourself a little better and might learn to pay more attention to what is going on in your life. Why not give it a try?
Life Lab Lessons
- At night or in the morning, write down what made you feel grateful over the past day.
- Write someone a letter rather than a text or email.
- Write a love note to someone you love.
- When you feel down, write about how you feel.
- When you feel up, write about that too.