I know the title of this post may sound a little dramatic but think about what the statement is saying. I’m not saying we should do nothing else but write, live inside our own spaces (physically or mentally), and dismiss all opportunities to get out and be a part of society. Actually quite the opposite. I’m saying that in order to write, we must live. Live as in sometimes we have to abandon our literary pursuits to experience the world not according to our imagination. The secular world as it were. Which is to say living is writing.
I know writers are naturally introverted beings, but we cannot write accurately enough to engage those who do not prefer our way of life without going out and being part of another world.
I touched a little bit on this in ‘Your Wants VS. Character Wants‘ and was so struck by the idea that I had to flush it out in its own post.
Living for writers can allow us to gain a fresher view on the world we live and the one we create. Much like method acting for dramatists, living can give writers the opportunity to interact with our environment not as we would naturally. We could quite literally become our characters, behave in similar ways to them, and walk in their shoes. Perhaps when using this to those close to us we shouldn’t deviate too drastically from our normal habits. If our friends or family notice us behaving out of the ordinary, unwanted suspicion and investigating into why we are acting that way might be triggered. And we don’t want that. That might lead to undesirable conversations I talked about in ‘”Muggles” Always Meddle’. Instead we can just move throughout a space as a particular character would. Simply think like them.
But we don’t even have to go as far as being the character; we can just be ourselves. The best example I can think of is when I’m lifting. I keep going back to the gym not only to benefit my body. I return because of the valuable insight I get when I push myself. When I’m feeling beaten down by the weights. In those moments I think of why I personally want to persevere and finish the set. Later on, I look back on those times and am able to translate those feelings of determination to my character’s own conflicts. Sometimes I even think about a certain character in their time of strife when I’m in mine, and how if they can pull through, so can I. I believe if I can understand my own wants for myself, then I can (hopefully) make Arthur and other’s struggles more believable to readers.
You see. Living teaches me how I can make my characters as real to others as they are to me. By interacting and going about my own life without actively including my writing (which is hard considering how much I’m thinking about them), I can learn so much about myself as an individual. What I have to offer others as a role model and a writer. I learn what I value and the complexities of others, even though this can sometimes irk me when I can’t be in control.
Living lets me embrace chaos and empathize with others. Because of this, I can put my efforts into writing when creating characters that become their own minds eventually. So go out and live as only writers/artists can. It may be for an afternoon or a year. When we return from our adventures, we’ll have plenty of material to do what we love: create.