Life is weird. You already knew that. But if you are a writer, you owe it to yourself to make it weirder. Go out of your way and end up in the strangest situations you can manage. Most people already say to “take a chance,” to “expand your horizons,” and any other of those cookie-cutter platitudes.
But no, that is not what I am telling you to do: not specifically. I am telling you that as a writer, you might be so blessed as to be a weird magnet, and if you’re not, you should act like you are. Because you are one of the few types of people who can take such raw material and do something better with it than occasionally entertaining dinner guests.
To go more personal: my life is absurd. Being a professional writer will do that to you by its sheer nature: but also, I end up in situations which other people would consider downright strange.
Off the top of my head, I could mention how I once toppled a childhood rock-based economy. Or how I attempted (under instructions to do so) to remove all the toilet paper from a toilet paper and water soup with nothing but a friend to help and goldfish nets—for at least a half hour.
Every month or so, I find myself in situations which baffle those I bother to tell about them. Situations in which the usual, standard wisdoms are laughably inapplicable.
This oddness I attract has been annoying, and joyous, and I’ve learned to lean back and just laugh—even when it really was not appropriate to do so. But, out of all of it, I think the main takeaway is it made my life interesting enough to try to tell stories.
Somehow, by some whim, I must share the oddness. It spurns me to tell the stories I tell.
And that is why I am instructing you to end up in weird, strange, and unorthodox situations for the sake of your art. Sure, appealing to universal concepts and talking about things people all experience in life like love, loss, stress, and the slow creep of maturity is invaluable advice for a student of creation, but: you also want to be memorable. You want a tale which contains details readers have never seen before.
I’ve stayed up until four sitting next to a bathroom with a clogged toilet so no one would use it in the middle of the night. I’ve sword fought with wooden swords, plastic sword, ceramic water pipes, and with actual swords. I’ve broken a fence by accidentally slide-kicking into it. I’ve fallen into what may as well have been a stone well, along with a children’s toy baby stroller.
Take it from a natural born weird magnet. Embrace any moment like that. Commit every weird thing to memory. Revel in the strange and absurd, and then tell readers the meaning of those days, even if not the precise facts.
Life is a lovely chaos. Flashing beautiful lights in its maelstrom. And a creative person, by the nature of being a creator, carries the power to replicate splendid madness for all to see.