Monday, June 22, 2015

Make time for adventure

You know what movies never really quite give you? The real thing. Every writer can tell you that research sometimes can only happen through experience. Things like experiencing traversing a secluded* river in wild countryside can only be truly understood by trying it (*secluded besides the pair of trekkers who caught up and passed us during lunch, or the group that goes every weekend--hey, it was a weekday). Overcoming the danger of a raging river (okay... fairly calm mountain spring) and clambering over unmarked trails (please ignore the experienced guide) while fighting off wild mountain animals (wetsuits are great for not getting leeches) is a powerful experience, and if I ever use it in book, I know I can now describe the experience well. (What? No, of course writers never use "research" as an excuse for a fun adventure).

Glamorous and beautiful
river-trekking photos.
I love books, but no book has ever given me the sound of water pouring rocks, the icy grip of mountain river, the sound of crickets and cicadas and frogs singing around you and birds above. Nothing ever matches the real experience.

It's easy to forget to make time for things outside the normal routine, and yet it's important to do so. A future father-in-law with a taste for extreme sports helps, but you don't have to try anything extreme to enjoy the world. A walk through a beautiful garden, a flower photo shoot, the game Ingress, a hike at a popular hiking trail... anything that gets you outside and into the world.

I joke that adventures are great for research, but the truth is, they're good for the soul and body, too (as long as you're careful and use proper safety equipment). Creativity involves combining real-life experiences with imagination, and the more things you do, the more you get out, the deeper your pool of experience to draw on. And sitting around writing all day... well, it's no secret sitting all day isn't great for you.

And it's fun. That's pretty important, too, because mental health is part of your whole health. The more good times you make time for, the more good memories you have to buoy yourself through the rough patches. Because everyone has times when life just sucks. Make sure you remember to make time for more good moments than bad ones.

River trekking goes on the list of "good" moments for me. What are some of your best adventures?

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