Wednesday, September 23, 2009

are we having fun yet?

With the fall publication season upon us, I am currently lining up my author Q&A schedule so stay tuned for more great Wednesday interviews. I’ll post the schedule of authors asap!

Today, though, let’s talk about fun things. Oh, yes, sure this blog is ever so serious (ha!) and we are all serious writers and readers here (ahem), but perhaps one day of frivolity won’t hurt. Actually, it might do us all some good.

I don’t want you to think about this; I want a quick answer (in your head is fine, you don’t need to share): when was the last time you had fun?

Yes, when was the last time you had a seriously good, fun time? Or, put another way, when was the last time you laughed so hard you nearly cried?

The importance of having fun is sometimes shoved to the side as we all aim to get things done, be more productive, work harder, work faster. Lately, I’ve had a few blog posts about the ever-popular to-do list, how to be a productive writer, how to tap into that creativity we all thrive on. But in order to relish in the creativity, we need to free the mind and let ourselves live a little. This is where the fun comes in.

In writing – and in life – there must always be a time to breathe, a time to play, a time to let our minds relax. Otherwise, in a congested brain, how else can creativity break free from rules, restraints, and crazy to-dos? Our minds (and hearts and souls and relationships) need some lighthearted moments to be real, to be loose, to be open to what’s out there in the world.

For writers, it’s especially important to embrace opportunities for socializing with people we may not usually consider our crowd. Being that writing is such a solitary profession, it can be especially beneficial to get out of the house and have a good time. Interact with others. Be social. Not only does stepping outside the brain give us a mental break, it can also provide an opportunity for inspiration when least expected.

By doing something out of our comfort zone we gain new experiences, new insights, and new perspectives. We feed our creative brain by taking in new information. The inspiration may not come that same day, or the next day, but when we feed our brain new information and experiences, we build on what we know. When it comes to writing ‘what you know,’ then, isn’t it best to know a good deal? Or to be open to experiencing what others know?

Here’s an example: last week I took an unexpected opportunity to go bowling. I’m not a bowler, by any means, but a team I know needed a sub for their league for one night. I thought… sure, why not. Without much knowledge of what was required of me, I went for it and… apart from not doing too shabby, I also managed to have a heck of a good time. Not only was this a great escape from my monster to-do list and not only was this a great social break out of my usual realm of interaction… I also managed to surround myself with a few interesting characters. In fact, I bowled on a team made up entirely of cops. Yup. Cops.

What made this interesting, however, was not their profession. Because - as is the case for most of us - cops aren’t one-dimensional. They aren’t wholly defined by what they do in their day jobs. They also happen to be people with real lives, real families, real ups and downs like the rest of us. So, while it would be easy to say my team talked shop all night, it simply wouldn’t be true. In fact, I don’t think the topic of work came up once during the evening.

As a writer, this was a good night for remembering the importance of character development. In reading fiction, isn’t it much more interesting to learn about a three-dimensional character than seeing a cookie-cutter stereotype? It’s easy and cliché to have a cop be work-focused and hard-edged; a waitress who is working double shifts to support her kids; a woman who’s closed to relationships because of all the bad break-ups she’s been through. These are obvious and overdone clichés. In real life, any of these characters would be much more than that. As readers, we want to know more. We want to know the person.

As writers, it should be our goal to dig deeper and get real. However, there is only so much enlightenment to be found at our desk. There’s a large and complex world of characters out there just waiting to be discovered.

Inspiration comes through experiencing life outside of our own bubble. Inspiration may not always be something we can find when we want it, but it can come to us unexpectedly so it’s important to break free from our routines and get out of the house. It’s important to experience life. It’s important to have fun and open the mind to opportunities. And, sometimes, that means putting on a pair of rental shoes and bowling with a team of cops.

1 comment :

  1. Very thoughtfull post on enlightenment. It should be very much helpfull

    Karim - Mind Power