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It’s good to have skills outside of writing to draw on. I looked down on such knowledge when I was first becoming a writer. “I am creative!” I thought. “All I need is sufficient imagination and skill at writing to be able to portray whatever I wish!”

Yeah. We all go through it. Doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.

That “extra” knowledge, it’s actually really useful, and I kind of caught myself falling into that ol’ trap this week, so here’s some reasons why doing things other than write can be great.

It helps pay the bills in the interim. Because we would love to make millions at writing, but it’s very unlikely and there is another job out there with my name on it, at least for now. Having another skill set lets me do things that won’t drive me crazy in the interim.

It’s good to keep exploring different things, to inspire and inform. Who knows if reading that random book about bird watching might not inspire a crazy bird-like species for my next book! Or perhaps a calm moment of reflection while watching the birds, for those not inclined to sci-fi/fantasy. Expanding one’s knowledge set gives more options for the books we write.

Looking for more knowledge forces us to ask people about their lives and really listen, to learn what you can’t do yourself, or can’t experience. Which means being social, which personally is the one thing that is almost always awesome about writing. Less people than other jobs. Just me and my keyboard. Right up to the point where even my 90% introvert brain says enough is enough and forces me to get out for a while. This way you can fool your brain into thinking it’s actually part of writing, which makes it easier to get out.

It gives your brain a break to do something different. Because writing is hard work, and vacations are necessary. Trying new things can be that vacation. And again, if your brain is anything like mine, if you can claim it as “work-related” rather than “vacation”, it’s much easier to focus on what you’re doing. (Personally I keep thinking that I’m wasting time, even when I know I’m not.)

We need to explore other things than writing. It’s important, and it’s good, and it makes our writing that much better because we can give it that stamp of “been there, done that.” And isn’t that the goal? To make our writing all the more real, and moving, and engrossing?

Anybody think of any other reasons why we shouldn’t let our brains be completely totally consumed by writing?

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