June 4, 2019•441 words
I read some time ago from a recently accomplished author that the best way to write interesting things is to do interesting things. A writer trapped in a white box for several months will, after having gone completely insane, have absolutely nothing more to write about. If you don't do interesting things, you won't have interesting things to say.
While not a white box, trapping yourself in the same confines day-to-day will not yield much in the way of creativity. If you want to have interesting writing, you need to have interesting thoughts. And I've found that my brain's churning runs at its highest capacity in a day when I've done any of the following:
- Read an interesting, long-form article
- Read a chapter in a fiction or non-fiction book
- Listened to and ingested a podcast
- Taken a long walk to reflect
- Tried a new experience or restaurant
- Talked with or visited a friend
- Challenged myself to take on a new project, or reignited an old one
Of course, any novel input will do, however mediocre. I like to think of the brain's algorithm as akin to a blender that's always spinning. Whether the resulting smoothie is delicious or bland depends on the inputs you've fed yourself. Any book you read feeds thousands of unique inputs in your brain's blender, and is bound to produce some thought with a distinct shade.
I've also found that when it comes to writing, my style tends to reflect the average style of all the input I've ingested over the last month or so. If I read a historical thriller, my writing tends to be more adrenalinous. If I read science non-fiction, my thoughts, and thus my writing, tend to come out more grounded and physical.
For writers whose format tends to be autobiographical, doing or ingesting novel things is essential. But, it doesn't have to be dramatic. While quitting your job and traveling to South America is sure to produce some excellent content, traveling with your mind will suffice plenty.
If writing frequently is important to you, reading frequently can be of no less importance. As you read, your mind enters into and absorbs the world it encounters. You put the book down, but your mind still churns its contents, believing it were real. Your world and the fictional one you consume begin to blend, at times into a mystical concoction that takes days to wear off. During this haze, your writing is most ripe. It bears endless fruits, often yielding an end result that will surprise you. Did I really write that?
No, your mind did.