As writers, we create stories. Hopefully fabulous ones. But it’s easy to forget we are the authors of our own lives too. And how many of us can say hand-on-heart that we are living lives that are even half as exciting as the stories we make up?!
Personally, I blame this on my computer and its mysterious vortex-like powers. It sucks me in and spits me out, dazed and bedraggled, eons later. A whole day can go by in the vortex, unnoticed. Weeks and months can fly by in the blink of an eye.
In the vortex, I’ll have some brilliant adventures. But they will all be online or in my mind.
Where are my adventures in real life?
I think it’s easy for writers to get stuck in a rut. We love reading. We love writing. We love tapping away at the computer, immersed in our own little world.
Sometimes we’ll emerge just long enough to register that it’s 3 O’clock and we really should get some fresh air… ‘But I’ll just finish writing this blog post first…’
Or we’ll get to the end of the day and think, ‘I must phone X tonight, it’s been ages since we last spoke’… but then we realise we need to cook supper, our eyes are all googly from staring at the computer screen, our brain is fried, we need a drink, and besides, our favourite TV programme is about to start.
And so another evening passes with barely a blip on our storyline.
Not every writer is like this, obviously. This might not apply to you. But if you’re a writer and an introvert (or you’re not an introvert, but you’re not exactly gregarious either), I think it’s an easy trap to fall into.
Thankfully, if you’re lucky, serendipity steps in.
Last week I was pondering how much time I spend in front of the computer (as opposed to being out there, actually living) when the perfect email plopped into my inbox and sat there glaring at me.
It was from John Williams of Screw Work Let’s Play and it was enticingly entitled, What story is calling you in 2015?
I read it straight away.
You really need to read the full post, but in a nutshell, it tells the story of Donald Miller, an author whose life had gotten into a bit of a rut:
“Donald realises he has been spending too much time sitting at his computer, or on the sofa watching TV. This is not a good story for a movie – or for a life. So he sets out to live a better story and takes on some big challenges. He gets in contact with his father who he hasn’t seen for decades, he hikes the Inca trail (despite being quite unfit), and he cycles across America. He learns to notice whenever he feels “a story calling to me”.
As a writer, this instantly appealed to me.
I’m aiming to create a great story for my book, but how about creating a great story for my life?
I love the idea of following the stories that call to us. Surely THIS is how to stop our lives from turning into some meandering literary novel (plenty of waffle but nothing ever bloody happens)?
So, I have decided to follow a plot line that has been calling to me for years: dance.
Yes, I have signed up for a salsa night in a dark sultry bar, with real people, and real music, and not a computer in sight.
The class starts on Monday.
I have my outfit sorted.
I’m telling you this so that I don’t chicken out and come up with some ingenious reason as to why I shouldn’t go. Which is highly likely seeing as entering a dark bar and dancing with strangers is a little daunting. But then again, I’m thinking, screw it…