Have you ever seen the movie, I.Q.?
There is a great line in it where Tim Robbins asks Meg Ryan, "When was the last time you went wahoo?"
It's a great question. Here's my answer:
Okay, guess what I did on Saturday! If you know me, you'll probably never ever guess, because I tend to be pretty aware of my mortality. If you don't know me, I tend to be pretty aware of my mortality.
I went longboarding!!!
What is longboarding? It's skateboarding on a longer skateboard on a downhill road. You should probably go back and read that sentence at least ten times. And then check out this video on Youtube: Longboarding Let Go
First off, doesn't that look awesome? Second off, I did not look like the person in the video. Far from it. I looked like a cross between a giraffe and a mom trying to board. AND we went down a MUCH MUCH more level road. We're talking gentle slope. And I've only been on a skate board once before in my life, and that was for about four minutes. Inside. On a very flat surface. With someone to hold my hand.
This was different. And guess what? It was sooooooo fun. Beyond fun. I went Wahoo! With a capital W. And even though I fell and roadrashed my palms, I still got back up and longboarded some more. I may be limping and sore, but I'm going again as soon as the swelling in my knee goes down. Why? Because I felt ALIVE! And feeling like that is worth losing some skin and taking stock out in icepack companies.
What does this have to do with writing? So very, very much. As a writer you must be able to put emotion on the page. You have to imagine what the character feels like. It doesn't matter what you're writing, you have to pretend to be that person.
Now, I've pretty much been in hibernation all winter, maybe even a little longer, as I polished up my last novel for submission. It took a lot of time, and I'm happy with it, but it also took something from me. I kind of stopped living there for a while. Yes, it was winter and cold and covered in snow, so most of us that don't ski disappeared inside for the duration, but the combination of a winter of intense writing and lack of living took it's toll. I became cautious in my actions--and in my writing. I didn't want to make mistakes. I didn't want to have to do huge revisions. I didn't want to get hurt.
And it showed. One of my critiquing friends emailed me and asked me why I wasn't loving this new book. I didn't know. Now I do. I wasn't loving life. I wasn't living it, and my emotional stores had empty shelves. How could I write exhilaration if I hadn't experienced it in so long that I couldn't remember the FEELING? How could I write adventure? Fear? Danger?
Boring? I had that one down pat.
Now, I'm not telling you all to go longboard down a mountain, but we do need to leave our houses and computers behind and live for at least part of everyday. We need to stock our emotional shelves so when we write people believe our words and can tell we've yelled Wahoo recently.
When was the last time you went Wahoo?