I posted the basic concept of this article a few years ago. In revisiting it, I found it at least as true now as it was then, if not more so. You may have observed something similar.
Life gets in the way of writing. Frequently.
Interruptions. Intrusions. Disrupted plans. Upheaval. Kids. Grandkids. Aging parents. Work. School. The news. Global events. Medical appointments or treatments. Volunteer responsibilities. Ordinary and relentless home maintenance…
Memories, good and bad. Failures and victories. Challenges met. Opportunities lost. Times of plenty and times of want.
Life gets in the way.
And life is what we write about.
Both statements are true. Consider how your portfolio of writing and your research files are growing because of the very things that sometimes frustrate your writing plans.
An afternoon I’d planned to devote to hunker-down writing turned into a short road trip with my husband. By the time we returned home, I’d collected two pages of legal pad notes, a dozen photographs, insights about a quirky character who’d had me stumped, and scenes already developing in my head. I’d had to push away from my desk in order to gather the raw materials for constructing the story.
If you’ve been writing for more than a few months, you’ve probably already discovered that your sentences are filled with scent and taste memories, with a flash of recollection from decades ago, with a depth of color you noticed in your walk yesterday. That’s how we write. We walk through life observing, listening, asking questions, collecting, filling our pockets with experiences and sensations and impressions.
What is it about life that informs our writing?
Work history and relationships in the workplace.
Books we’ve read.
Loves won and lost.
And, yes, interrupted schedules.
We recently had houseguests–two young people–for a month while they searched for a different apartment. It might have seemed like a disruption, but the conversations we shared while they lived here are priceless and will no doubt inform devotions or stories or a nonfiction proposal one day soon. Because the truth is…
Life is what we write about. And sometimes we have to live it to write about it authentically.
The next time your writing intentions are interrupted by life, grab your notebook and a pen. Gather all the tidbits of sight, sound, taste, texture, emotion, color, and fragrances interwoven in the interruption. The information may not be needed for the book or article you’re working on right now. But it won’t be wasted.
What life experiences did you not realize at the time would influence what or how you write?