It’s that time of year when there are lots of events and chances to hang out with others. From Halloween to New Years, it may be easy to turn down small events to catch up on writing or make that deadline, but should you? Don’t blackout your calendar with every get-together, but putting your writing first all the time can keep you from all the benefits of socialization. Here are some of the biggest few:
It’s very common for writers to form groups to help workshop and discuss ideas and scripts, but surrounding yourself with writers can easily dull your feelings toward writing. Having friends outside the writing or even the creative artistic circles can really refresh everything from conversations to new experiences. You can get other perspectives that can help you write more believable and interesting characters.
Have this great sci-fi idea, but not really sure how nanotechnology works? You can always check out books or ask an engineering friend who can warn you about the gray goo scenario. Things you may never have thought of can be common knowledge to them and you’ll find most people love to share their knowledge about their passion.
New relationships lead to new experiences. I would never have gone bouldering or tried fencing without making some friends who encouraged me to go with them. You don’t have to compete or commit to a practice schedule, but dipping your toe in the water can open the door to other amazing experiences. Some activities can change your entire perspective on the world and other people. Mountain climbing, scuba diving, building something from scratch, and making a quilt are all great examples.
“Write what you know” is so commonly tossed around and debated, but there really is no argument that having a taste of a different experience can change the way you see the world and thus how you write your worlds. New friends could introduce you to something as simple as a new cuisine or a new film genre you would never have tried on your own. The more friends, the more chances for experiences.
Someone Else’s Stories
Stories are constantly on your mind. Writing, outlining, character sheets, dialogue, you name it. While watching film and reading books are great, there is no match for listening to someone narrate what happened that one time with the 5 Alarm hot sauce and a hot dog eating contest. Hearing those interesting moments of someone’s life elaborated like a great play can be a soothing balm to the mind always trying to spin another tale after another. Going to friend or family gatherings can be a source for laughter and maybe even silly storytelling.
Of course, you could be in writer mode, jotting down ideas from these stories or how they’re told and the delivery. That could be just as fun. Oral stories are the birthplace of storytelling and having a few drinks and appreciating the art form is a good way of honoring it. Everyone tells stories differently and each one has something new to learn.
How often do you turn events down? Maybe your writing isn’t the only excuse you use. Not all events are created equal and there may be some that can do more harm than good, but social events can be relaxing if you’re not hosting them. There’s food already made or brought and activities already set for the night. All that’s needed is for you to enjoy it. Play a few card games, enjoy the finger food, and try not to think about how this would be a great setting in your story. Forget the writing world and settle into having fun.
This is easier for some more than others. In fact, some people may not like huge parties. Scrap the parties, then, and just have a nice relaxing day at the park with a friend or at a museum or beach. Maybe try for a new experience, but one-on-one so it’s not as overwhelming. Painting (if you’re not sure where to start, try an episode of Bob Ross) or hanging out with some hot chocolate around a fire in the backyard.
Any distraction from writing can help refresh and renew your brain so the next time you sit in front of that bright screen, you approach it with fresh eyes.
Your stories matter, but so do you! Make sure you are taking care of yourselves and having fun this holiday season! Enjoy the company of others and remember – personal experiences often make the best stories!
Beverly Peders is a Screenwriting graduate from Drexel University. She loves all visual writing mediums and has experience in writing plays, comic books, screenplays, TV sitcoms, and video games. World building is her favorite and she obsesses over anthropology and linguistics. In her spare time, you may find her trying to get over her fear of heights at a rock wall or adopting yet another plant because she can’t afford an actual pet.