I'm reading Dwight Swain's magnificent Techniques of the Selling Writer again. I've thumbed through it a few times and read a few chapters, but never really dug into the meat of it.
In his last chapter, entitled "Preparation, Planning, Production", he offers advice on how to stay productive throughout your writing career. One tip in particular really struck me:
Swain writes, "Life is a writer's raw material. Successful writers immerse themselves in it. To that end, you read. You travel. You shop. You loaf on street corners. You go to ball games. You visit friends. You attend parties. You work in church or civic club or Boy Scout troop. In other words, you contact people. All kind of people, without regard to age or sex or social stratum; the wider the range, the better. No aspect of your work is more important."
I admit, I am a hermit. There are some weekends when I don't go anywhere and just stay home. I do this because I am gone every day for work, and I love being in my cute little house.
But doing this too often isn't good. There is simply too much life to experience. But I love how Swain defines "staying alive." You don't have to take a trip to Europe or to the East coast to live life. You can sit in the mall and people watch. You can take a walk in part of your neighborhood you've never been before. You can attend a local author's book reading. You can take an afternoon to drive down a country road you've never been on before. You can read a book that isn't in your comfort zone.
This is staying alive. This is absorbing the things that make the world go 'round. This is what we use as fodder for our writing.