I once spent a year learning the art of chopping in China.

Why you ask? Why not! Actually it was a misunderstanding as I was under the impression I’d be learning to make Chinese food. You can imagine my horror when my teacher brought in a live duck and slit its throat it in front of us the first week of school. This was not what I signed up for.

There’s a lot of things in life we don’t sign up for. Injuries. Failed tests. Freak accidents. Broken hearts. But there are good things we didn’t see coming too. A lot of these accidents can enhance our writing too.

While I can’t say learning the proper chopping technique has proven useful in any of my writing yet, other obscure hobbies/life experiences have. This goes back to my post about writing believable action. In order to write believably, you have to have lived first. You create your own repository of experiences you can incorporate into your writing. You’ve heard it said, “Write what you know.” You can’t truly know unless you experience.

The first author I ever interviewed gave me invaluable advice: “Live life to the full. Experience as much as you can. Try new things! Then write.” I took her advice to heart. I’ll almost always try something—once.

Break dancing class? Hold on, let me find my shoes. Bacon wrapped donut? One order coming right up! Survival class with gory videos and learning to use a tourniquet? Good thing I didn’t eat before class. . .

From these things, I have a plethora of emotions, experiences, places, and interesting characters I’ve met over the years to draw from.

Don’t stop writing.

Make sure you start living. It will improve your writing and change you as a person.

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