Last month I made a commitment to write 500 words a day for 31 days straight. And for the most part I stuck to it. However, I stepped away from writing during a weeklong trip to Germany to see my brother. In all reality, I could have easily made my daily word count while on vacation. I had the time. I had the ability. I could have taken a lot more pictures, too.
But I didn’t.
I opted for a full vacation instead. I used my own two eyes to take in the sights. I allowed my fingers to brush against the leaves in the Botanical Gardens, my feet to feel the unevenness of the cobble stoned streets. I allowed my ears to take in a language that is made to sound harsh by Hollywood, but in actuality is actually quite soft and beautiful.
When we weren’t exploring, I allowed myself to read for enjoyment’s sake. I picked up a book I hadn’t read since my teenage years and reconnected with characters I’ve loved since early childhood.
I jumped in on games with my brother’s barrack-mates and learned a new line dance.
I climbed a mountain and then explored a castle while wearing Hagrid-sized house shoes.
I ate. I drank (responsibly). And (a few unexpected bumps aside) was merry.
Writing is an important part of my life, but I also recognized during that week that it isn’t the only important thing in my life.
I have a quote by Henry David Thoreau above my desk that says:
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
I don’t keep it there as an excuse to procrastinate, but as a reminder that I tend to lean more to the obsessive at times. Growing up, I would open a book and refuse to close it until it was finished…no matter how thick the book. When I first began my journey as a writer, it’s all I did. I ignored friends, I ignored family, and I ignored life.
When the rejections started coming in, I was devastated. I felt as if I’d wasted my time, my efforts, and I began to believe I would never be a real writer.
The day I discovered the quote by Thoreau it was like a locked door in my brain finally opened to reveal not a room, but a blinding summer light and the world beyond.
As writer’s we’re told to write what we know. If all I know is the rules of writing and what other writers have penned before, what good does it do me (or anyone who stumbles over my writing)?
But, if I take the time to engage in the world, to learn and experience new things, that in turn will translate into my craft.
So I didn’t make my 31-day goal. I’ve still got 31 days ahead of me to try again. I’ve also got some incredible goofy memories with three of my siblings that will somehow nurture the characters of my future work.
And look. It’s April 1st and I’ve already passed my goal for the month so far!