Experiencing As the Opposite of Writing

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After writing last week’s troubled blog post about my writing-not-writing situation, two quotes came to my mind.

Somehow, it seems, my brain thought it was time for me to do some changes so it picked these quotes from the long shelves of thoughts and memories, giving me a perspective on my current writing situation.

Funny enough – the quotes have made a difference.

Let’s just dive in and start with the first one. The quote is by Benjamin Franklin and goes like this:

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

If you have read my posts from the previous two weeks, you know I’m longing for writing something worth reading. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past year and half, writing almost daily – fiction, journal entries, blog posts. It’s what I know and love.

But now, as Mr. Franklin/my brain conveniently reminded me of, I’m doing something worth writing.

Or am I – really?

Learning About Prioritizing

Because –

I wonder if one can travel great lengths without actually doing anything worth writing about. Just linger, wander, pass curious details and interesting human beings without really seeing them and taking in their existence – and if I’ve done just that.

You see –

During these past months of travel, I’ve been looking for opportunities to write and been disappointed when day after day I haven’t had the possibility to do so. I’ve been having many negative thoughts of what I should be doing and what I’m not and, to be honest, it has consumed me and my energy.

And as I’ve been in this gravel pit of negativity, I wonder if I’ve actually given myself the chance to enjoy and experience, to take the days as they come.

However, the thing to realize here is that in the mode of experiencing, to write or not write becomes more like a side product of that mode. You have to be willing to ease on the writing part of being a traveling writer and focus more on experiencing.

But I haven’t let that happen.

I’ve kept writing as my main mode, my first priority, and that just may have hindered me from it’s opposite – experiencing.

Experience Requires Patience

This is where I’d like to introduce the second quote my brain reminded me of. It’s from a film called Stuck In Love I saw earlier this year (a movie recommendation for those looking for films about writing – it’s not a super awesome movie but it’s about writing and that’s the best thing about it).

A writer is the sum of her experiences.

When I was little, I read a fantasy book called The Prophecy of the Gems by Flavia Bujor. It was Bujor’s first (and only) book but the thing that made it cool was that she was only 14 years old at the time. I was amazed by her young age and, as I already at that point had my dreams of becoming a published author, thought I could do the same.

But the thing is, it is very hard to write about themes such as love, loss, freedom and loneliness if one has never experienced those things. No matter how much I would have wanted to write a publishable book at the age of 9, I don’t think I could’ve done it because I didn’t have enough experience of the topics that make books feel real.

Becoming experienced in this thing we call life takes time and waiting out time takes patience. And during that time you shouldn’t just sit and wait but experience, instead.

And even then, you’re not done.

Even though I feel I’m somewhat more experienced than I was at the time I read Bujor’s debut and could put together a realistic novel, at the same time I realize I’m not done experiencing.

There’s so much more to learn about life’s quirks that I haven’t gotten to yet.

I believe one of those quirks has been presented to me during these last couple of days.

The Lesson To Learn

I don’t think it’s too late for me to switch my focus and re-organize my priorities. Even though writing is one of the most meaningful things in my life, I can let it rest for a while – that doesn’t mean I will never get back to my writing routines and never become a published author.

I just have to be patient, give time to this period in my life. Remember that experiences give me something to write about.

And even though I’ve been obsessed about writing-not-writing, I think I’ve squeezed in some experiences and observations:

I have used my senses in the desert landscape of Northern Australia: seen the drought, felt the heat and sweat in the small of my back. I’ve heard the wind rustle through the dry hay, smelled the smoke coming from forest fires, tasted the refreshing water after a hike.

During the long days of driving, I’ve had time to listen to audiobooks and in the evenings, listened to audiobooks or read fiction. Thought about my own works of fiction, the characters and what makes a book feel real.

I’ve had time to think of who I am as a person and as a writer, thought about what life’s meaning really is about and if it’s necessary to find something that feels meaningful or if the meaningfulness of things already exists there or here, I just can’t see it yet.

So I’m already on a good path here – I just need to be patient and forgive myself for not writing.

It won’t be an easy switch to just ”forget” about writing and only write when the opportunity presents itself. And I need to be careful not to put too much weight on experiencing and instead just take the experiences as they come.

This road trip might be about learning to enjoy, to experience without stressing out about experiencing, and write when the opportunity presents itself – but not force myself to do anything.

If I learn that, I might have an experience on my hands really worth writing about.

4 thoughts on “Experiencing As the Opposite of Writing

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I can relate to so much of what you wrote. I often struggle with finding a balance between writing and experiencing. I sometimes wonder if I’m stressing out too much about trying to write when I need to let myself just live for a while. Let myself take in the world and expand my knowledge and experience and then let the writing come when it does. But that also requires a balance…not letting myself get too apathetic when I should be pushing myself to write even when I don’t feel capable or experienced enough to do it. It’s a fine line we writers walk. 🙂

    Liked by 1 henkilö

    1. Hi Heather, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I feel your struggle – for me, it’s like trying to find a balance with three different things: balance in experiencing, balance in writing and balance between writing and experiencing.

      However, when it comes to writing about things I’m not experienced in, it’s better to just give it your best shot and hope for the best, that you make it sound real. That’s what imagination is for, right?

      (Although… nothing beats real experience. Aand we’re back in the beginning – it’s almost like a vicious circle!)

      Liked by 1 henkilö

  2. A few thoughts came to mind while reading your blog post.

    First, I -too- have read Bujor’s book when I was little and thought that well, if a 12-year-old can do it, so can I! I was 9 or 10 -I think- at the time. I still believe I can do it – but not because of my age number but the person I’ve grown into and the lessons I’ve learned. Writing a book is so much more than just coming up with an idea and writing it down. It takes hard work, many edits, learning to get better, and accepting that you don’t always know everything about anything. It takes patience and it takes perseverance.

    Secondly, you don’t need to push aside your writing hobby/career because of traveling! Just today, I was researching of ways to come up with new story ideas. One video suggested your should go out, observe people, experience life, to come up with new ideas! And I think that’s just what you’re doing! Don’t put yourself down for not writing because your brain is stacking information and ideas for you to use later. You’re actually writing constantly even though you’re not always typing or taking notes.

    Thirdly, I’ve struggled a lot with the thought of my stories not being ”worth reading”. The story I’m currently working on is nothing special. I’m not writing it to change the world or the minds of people. But I’m slowly coming to terms that making people happy and ”feel all the Feels” is enough. That I’m here to entertain, and sometimes that’s what the world needs. And if it makes ME happy, it’s all good.

    Liked by 1 henkilö

    1. I wonder how much help Bujor got when it came to edits and doing everything to get a book ready for publishing because the aspects about hard work you mentioned do require some experience that comes with age, I think.

      Thank you for your kind words about experiencing. I like the idea about ’constantly writing’ in my mind although I’m not putting pen to paper – I think you’re very right with that one! And this road trip has already sparked so many new ideas, now I just have to hold on to them until I find the time and space to start planning and writing them!

      And your third point: I think it is very important to be okay with being ”just” an entertainer. If the reader’s get something more out of your work than just entertainment, that’s just added value 🙂 And definitely: the most important thing is for you to be happy with your work! Otherwise, how will anyone else enjoy it?

      Thank you for your wise words and for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 henkilö

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