Sunday, March 28, 2010

And Don’t Forget to Live Your Life

I’ve talked a bit before about the importance of writing and writing a lot, and I’ve talked, too, about the importance of not writing sometimes, of actually living your life to make sure you have something worth writing about. I hope you won’t mind if, this week, I touch on the latter idea again.

Something very emotionally painful happened to me a few days ago. I won’t get into it here, but I will say that this occurrence was totally unexpected and knocked me over with the force of a hurricane. I spent the past few days with family, which was a much needed reminder of the good things in life, and I ended up spending the second half of my Spring Break not writing.

But here’s the thing: I think this is exactly as it should be. I think sometimes some of us get so caught up in the writing life – in the importance of setting goals and writing regularly and submitting and on and on and on – that we forget that it’s also important to be a human being: to live and love and feel pain and feel regret, to not just live through our word processing programs but to open ourselves up and taste life, savor the bitter moments along with the sweet.

Writing is an essential part of being a writer, but it is not the only part, and even if it were, it wouldn’t be enough to comprise a full life. In order to be a good writer you have to practice your craft, yes, but you also have to read (a lot!), and you have to be alive. You have to really experience life, to get to know and understand a wide range of people, to appreciate and explore the strangeness of this vast universe we live in. Writers don’t lock themselves in their basements and write all the time. Writers live, and if sometimes that living gets in the way of your computer time, well I say so be it, no excuses required, because this is what it is to be alive.

1 comment:

PancakePhilosopher said...

I couldn't agree more. This is something my writing profs here have told me, in different words. Writers write, but we've got to have something to write *about*. And if you think of it, some of the best writers led really interesting lives (either positively or negatively) which gave them lots of writing material.