n moments of community crisis there are countless opportunities for extraordinary response. Opportunities, which at their core, are made up of immeasurable human instinct, courage and action void of hesitation.
Opportunity – seize it.
One single tweet brought a crushing blow to my heart with the news of “8 dead community members” on the morning after a night’s tornadic fury. Never could I have foreseen how this would present an opportunity so armed with people ready to conquer the world (ok, our community). It even proved to possess more momentum than the “most organized” local organizations. The opportunity was simply a response of action in the midst community crisis – a powerful and organic response. It was not a thought-out response from board rooms, coffee shops, and in no way was it grounded in research. “Retreat!” was not an option that morning after instinct and courage took control of a few of us. These two elements made it possible to seize the opportunity. When there is opportunity to be seized, do it then! Remember, in most situations, crisis response didn’t fail because someone acted too early. It usually fails because someone acted too late.
Watch what you put into your body. We’ve all heard this adage when reading or talking about health and nutrition. The simple idea that if you continue to eat McDonald’s and Pop
Tarts your body will act accordingly by becoming larger, slower, and easily fatigued.
This concept is fluid throughout the world and can be used in any situation. “If… Then…”
The same applies to writing. If you spend a disproportionate amount of time watching college football (guilty), listening to the static “Top 40”, and/or subjecting yourself to simple shock and awe movies (Hello, Transformers 2), then, you will begin to see your writing become tiredly repetitive, needlessly fatigued, and lacking insight.
And if you are young and cash strapped like myself, television, movies, music, and books may be your only opportunities to travel and experience different people and different cultures, hear fresh exotic words, and intake the multitude of themes, characters, and ‘left hooks’ surrounding story. All the more reason to push yourself to dig outside of your comfort zone and consume foreign pieces of content.
Thankfully an over-whelming number of blogs and online magazines, Netflix, and iTunes along with a number of other resources has given us the ability to experience the strange and different every day.
I’m not great at intake - as with everything surrounding writing - it’s a work in progress, but I will let you in on a few of my “tips”:
Pick a genre of music off iTunes that is outside your wheelhouse and choose one of the featured artist and plug them into Pandora. My wife has spent most of her life rocking to Kelly Clarkson and Hillsong United but the new staple in her life is The Middle East station on Pandora. She says she loves the way it makes her feel.
Check out the Featured Content section in Wikipedia. If you’re like me and have never viewed a list of the counties in Kentucky, read about the origin of crepes, or looked at a photo of the rope trick effect, Wikipedia will open you up to a host of new content experiences.
Pick a documentary off of Netflix. Transparently my que is full of these damn things but I have the hardest time saying no to The Office and Breaking Bad. So while I may not be practicing what I preach all the time I can say the few times I have partaken I have come away pleased.
And when you do have the funds travel, eat different foods, and talk to people. Maybe instead of that $130 cable bill you should save up and kayak the islands off the coast of Georgia or go canyoneering in Moab, Utah.
The story you are living will bleed through onto the pages you write.