Today’s post comes to you from French Polynesia! Well, sorta – I wrote it while we were there, but I’m publishing after we’ve returned. Does that count? When I wrote this, I was surfing on the back of a wild dolphin, and the dolphin was wearing sunglasses, and was
probably TOTALLY my new best friend. Yes, that sounds factual. *nods*
Craig and I are relentless wanderers, ever thirsty for the faraway. So we decided to celebrate our five-year anniversary on the Polynesian island of Mo’orea. Travel not only nourishes my soul, it betters me as a writer by providing my mind a rest as well as material.
But you don’t need a passport or even cool dolphin buddies to live your story. Anything that gets you away from the notebooks and making your own narrative is enough. An excursion into life itself: trying a class on falconry, learning how to fix a carburetor, attending an awkward office party, even just walking down an unfamiliar street… All of these fill your well of experience, the well you draw from when writing stories. They acquaint you with new knowledge and new ideas.
That weirdo on the bus wearing two hats? Put him in your story. That time your sister’s baby spit up all over your shoulder? Put it in your story. The embarrassment you felt when your barista turned you down for a date? Bummer, man… Put it in your story!
As Ben Franklin said: “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”
Even if you don’t use your experiences as direct material, simply being in a new environment helps, because it churns up all those stagnant juices and gets the brain flowing. Creativity loves novelty.
And if nothing else, the vacation from your keyboard is important too. The brain is not a machine that pumps indefinitely as long as the button is turned on. Humans need rest. Sometimes not writing your story helps your story.
In conclusion, here’s a photo of my dolphin BFF sipping a Mai Tai.