Spending three days at a basketball tournament with a bunch of junior high boys and their parents is not my idea of a great time. For some people this is a precious time to be treasured forever. For me, being a sports mom is part of the marathon/sprint that is modern parenting that I probably would avoid if I could. Yet, this weekend has been one of those occasions where I had unexpected opportunities to open my mind and improve my writing, that at first didn’t feel like moments to be celebrated.
By nature, we all tend to stay in our comfort zones unless we allow ourselves to try new situations. Of course, as writers, there are times that we need to shake up our view of the world.
This weekend I was reminded how boring, embarassing, and uncomfortable situations can strengthen our writing. Here are some ideas that can transform these kinds of situations for you as a writer:
- Write down the details of some situation that you hate, and imagine if that situation would never end. While I was listening to way too many kids running and screaming in a swimming pool that sounded like an echo chamber, I got the idea for adding a situation where people are tortured by never being able to turn off the noise. I may or may not use this idea in my novel, but it made an annoying situation into a more amusing experience.
- Talk to people you wouldn’t think to talk to and listen to their story. Today, I met a young woman who is about to graduate college with a degree in Spanish and Political Science. It turned out that she’s also a lifelong writer and poet. We ended up sharing the stories of our novels and creative work. As I told her the story of my novel, she suggested that I listen to a Uriah Heep song – Tales. It was one of those moments that I felt she was telling me something I was meant to hear. You never know where you will meet a “wizard” who can give you a key to growing your creative work!
- Leave behind expectations of which people to connect with and those you can’t. Sometimes we have to be patient so that we can gain the trust of those around us. Just showing up counts. This weekend, I heard stories of struggle and heartbreak that reinforced what I already know but sometimes forget that essentially we are all people just doing our best to live well.
Sometimes, in today’s polarized world we have so much trouble seeing past politics and even lifestyle to see the common struggles we share. Take the chance to be one of those writers who can’t be easily labeled. If you’re bored, embarassed or uncomfortable with a situation or experience in your life– congratulations, you have golden material for your writing.