As writers, we are privileged to be able to create our own adventures on the pages before us. Want to take a camel ride across the Sahara? Have a car chase down the unrealistically empty streets of New York City? Join a triskadekaphobic group of dwarves on a search for lost treasure? All you have to do is pull up a Word document and you’re set!
However, this becomes a problem when our writing takes the place of adventure, when real life experiences start taking a backseat to written ones. When we start justifying the lack of excitement in our own lives by saying that we’ve created a rich and exotic existence on paper, there is something wrong.
In his blog, Warnimont says:
“There is a valuable area that tends to go overlooked while developing an effective writing platform: experience. When I say experience, I don’t necessarily mean writing experience or schooling, rather personal experiences that make life enjoyable, while making you more cultured and strengthening your writing inspiration.”
If we fail to get out of the house and actually live, not only are we cheating ourselves out of the adventures we crave (and therefore write about), we are cheating our readers out of vivid and honest stories as well. If you do not experience the rush of adrenaline, feel the wind in your hair and the cramp in your side, smell the tarmac burning under the hot sun, and taste the salt of your own sweat running down your face, how can you relate a breathless, seat-of-the-pants chase to readers who expect and deserve nothing less?
“Getting away from your computer and experiencing the world around you is an important factor in becoming a great writer since credibility is built through these experiences. Also, you are given the opportunity to have some fun!”
Not only is this beneficial to your writing – getting out of your chair and engaging in activities can also reduce the risks of becoming trapped in a sedentary lifestyle – an issue that every writer has to deal with. Living most of your life in a sitting position is, believe it or not, something that can substantially shorten your life. Here are just a couple of the risks that people who live sedentary lifestyles face.
How do I go out and have adventures?
True, it’s not as easy as Hollywood makes it seem. Adventures are shy things, and don’t just stand there on the side of the road with their thumbs out, waiting to be picked up. You have to go out and make them. And no, I’m not talking about finding a ring of power to destroy, or applying to a secret agency, or holding up a bank (please do not hold up any banks!)
You can have small adventures anywhere – and then expand on those small adventures to make them something worthy to be written about. For example, in this article on How To Be Adventurous , one of the suggestions is to
“Put a new twist on the same old thing. Come into your house through your window instead of your front door.”
This is a good way to start. See how it really feels to come through a window, and then go and write about exactly how you were scared the pane was going to close on you, or how you had to remove the screen first and then figure out how to put it back on once you were inside, or how the window was too high to reach so you had to drag a garden bench over to give you a boost. You might even want to incorporate the looks of alarm your neighbors were giving you, and how you had to explain that yes, you did live there, you were just trying to be adventurous. It will add credibility to your writing, and make it easier for you to write about, because you no longer have to sit there and agonize over what it might feel like.
Here are some other ideas on how to be adventurous:
- Borrow a shopping cart from a store parking lot, fill it with something strange (like books or apples), and roll it along the highway.
- Go on a setting hunt. Take a camera and drive around to places you’ve never been, looking for good ideas for settings. Get out of the car, take pictures from different angles, but be subtle about it so that no one thinks you’re casing the place.
- Walk to a place you would usually drive to.
- Make a picnic lunch and go somewhere green – preferably somewhere that is new and relatively secluded.
- Wait for the next rain storm, bundle up, get your iPod out, and blast some epic movie soundtrack while you walk in the rain.
- Hitchhike somewhere.
- Dress in something ridiculous and go to work like that.
- Talk to strangers, ask them their life stories.
You get the idea. Adventures are everywhere, if you look. And any one of these things could potentially be developed into fodder for your next novel.
A few last notes:
- The first step is to get outside of your comfort zone. If you’re still in it, you’re not on an adventure yet.
- If you’re feeling less than motivated, imagine if your favorite fictional hero or heroine had said “I’m sorry, I can’t be bothered.”
- Never do anything unsafe or illegal!
- That being said, don’t be afraid to do things that are stupid or take risks (within certain limits)
- DON’T FORGET TO BRING A NOTEBOOK ALONG WITH YOU! You will need to jot down things right away to avoid losing them.