As writers, we feel it’s our job to constantly make observations about the world and then work those observations into our writing. Each person has a different way of viewing the world. That’s how we get distinct voices, tones, viewpoints and the like. How one thing looks to one person could be drastically different to another because everybody looks at the world through a lens smeared with their personal judgments and experiences.
In this context, judgment is not necessarily a bad word, much like the word consequence. There are good and bad consequences just as there are good and bad judgments. It is not a bad or good thing, it just is. You could say judgment grows from experience (how you were raised, what you saw/did). For now I am going to focus on writing and experience and, more importantly, writing from experience.
I am an experience addict. There have always been and will always be places I want to see, things I want to do, people I want to meet. I am constantly restless. There is a great and grand world out there, one to be learned, and through learning, loved.
Occasionally a little voice creeps into my head as I’m about to do something new: “Wouldn’t this make a great book?” the voice coos. “Won’t it be great to write about this?”
Right thought, wrong time.
Not the experience, heck no. I firmly believe experience is the lifeblood of all expression and the greatest way to learn in life. As C.S. Lewis put it:
‘Experience: That most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.’
No, experience is an ally to creative thought. But the thought, the inkling that experience can be translated to another form or medium, should not come in the middle of the experience itself. This is called living through the lens. In my case, my lens being my thoughts that I do things primarily for writing fodder, and this shouldn’t be the case.
Living through the lens is when people are so focused on cataloging their experiences that they miss the very experience entirely, instead focusing on getting as many pictures, the best angle, etc. We/I cannot let that happen.
So yes, explore, dream, do that crazy thing you’ve always wanted to do. Expand your horizons, scare yourself, get lost and then and then get found. But don’t miss the now, right now, when it’s happening. Stop peering out from behind that phone, or camera or thought. Use them, yes, of course. But don’t do it for the sole purpose that you might someday share it with others. Do it because life is not something to sit on the sidelines and watch. Don’t worry, your experiences will be there for you to recall again. And by then they will be aged and fermented just right and be all the sweeter.
Live for life, and live it well.