Today, are you weak and heavy-laden? If so, let me introduce you to the best friend you could hope for. One who can and will bear your griefs, trials, temptations, and troubles. One who can and will bring you joy and happiness, and provide a safe haven at your beck and call. Sorry, I’m not referencing an old gospel song. Gladly, I bring you something more powerful and enduring. It’s nothing more than the lowly pencil.
More particularly, the pencil is a bridge to life, one of meaning and purpose. As you know, The Pencil Driven Life is my blog. You’ve also figured out I use the word pencil symbolically, to represent all writing instruments, be it pencil, pen, stylus, or keyboard (physical or digital). Dictation via voice recorder along with smoke signals are included though transcription to paper or e-book form is required for both!
The instrument itself is of secondary importance. The point (ha) is to transport your thoughts, ideas, and words all the way from your brain to your notebook or hard-drive. This journey illustrates the pencil is a bridge to life, one of meaning and purpose. But, it doesn’t happen automatically. You have to walk across the bridge. Better still, grab your bike and peddle across the bridge. Take note, I didn’t promise the bridge was short. You have a lot of peddling to do.
Hopefully, I haven’t muddled things so much you’re not getting the idea. The pencil, the actual writing, is analogous to the walking or peddling across the bridge from where you are to the place you want to be. That place of joy and happiness, of meaning and purpose (I didn’t say a land absent trials and troubles), that place where you find that friend you’ve always wanted, one who will never leave or forsake you.
Think of writing as peddling. Do a little research. Peddling a bicycle can produce electricity. Of course, the setup has to be properly engineered. Thank goodness you don’t need to be an engineer or other type technical genius to produce the electricity that powers your life across the bridge to real life.
Let’s look at four benefits you’ll obtain if you’ll commit to peddling, uh, writing. You could think of these as way stations along your journey across that metaphorical bridge.
I’ll cover the first leg of our journey in this post, followed by the other three over the next couple of weeks.
By writing you’ll travel far and wide, gaining experiences you’ll never have in real life. Here’s my title for this phase. Electrify your life: Secret yourself for eventful experiences.
Before we proceed, let me clarify a couple of things. I’m speaking of creative writing, AKA, fiction writing. My ultimate aim is to convince you to write your own novel, but to start with short snippets count. Second, you’ll never become a writer unless you are a reader. Think about it. At a minimum, you’ll read and reread what you’ve written. But, you must read more broadly than that (again, I’m speaking of novel reading).
Here’s the point. Experiences change us. Your own personal experiences, like the one you had the other day out walking when your foot slipped off the rock and you got all wet when you fell into the creek.
Further, the experiences we have by reading about them are just as good. Research seems solid in concluding our brains make no difference in these two types. Whether we got all wet literally or figuratively, it’s the same.
So, what’s the importance of gaining experiences through reading. It puts us in the place of the character. Studies have shown readers become the protagonist or other key character in a novel. They hurt when he hurts. They laugh when he laughs. They’re afraid when he’s afraid. However, at little cost or threat to life or limb, the reader learns what he or she would do in a similar situation.
Want to know how Rachel feels as she rides the train into London and looks through the window at one particular house set back from the tracks and imagines the lives of Jessie and Jason (Rachel doesn’t know their real names) the current occupants? Want to know how you would feel and act if you were living Rachel’s life: divorced, dissatisfied, childless, virtually homeless (she rents a spare bedroom from former classmate Kathy), and mesmerized by Jessie and Jason who live a few houses from where she (Rachel) used to live when married to Tom? If you really want to know, then read The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.
Of course, this is just one of a zillion novels you could read. Want to know how you’d act and feel in a certain situation? Then go find a novel that provides that or similar scenario.
The more you read, the more your brain will change. Why? Because you will have been more places. You will have had more experiences. Do you think you’d be the same person today as you are if you had gone to Yale Medical School, followed by a residency in neurosurgery at Stanford? Read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi if you want a new experience. Note, I never said you cannot read nonfiction!
Now, back to your lowly pencil. Your own writing is a massive gateway to an unending line of wonderful and horrible experiences. You decide which type today, which type tomorrow. You have the power of the sword in your hand. With every alphabetic slash and jab you create or destroy lives and worlds, you bring sadness or happiness, you foreshadow events that ultimately connect Jess and Jason, a love affair like no other.
Wield your sword as you see fit. At 9:00 am you can be enjoying a mocha latte at the Caféothèque of Paris and by 10:00 you’ll be exiting your plane in Jackson Hole, Wyoming readying yourself to meet your father to discuss why he’s giving your sister his ranch in Dubois.
Never forget, experiences change us.
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