Everyday life provides countless opportunities to make us better people—and writers. Use these three tips to make the most of them.
Take in the situation
I’ve got this neighbor. A beautiful soul at the ripe age of 89. A Holocaust survivor. A mother and grandmother with a million stories and tribulations that show her strength. But she almost died last year, and she tells me that a lot of her friends are already gone. She’s tiny and wears purple eyeshadow and calls me “my Lindsey.”
I’m a new grad—I’m going to keep calling myself that until I’m not allowed to use it as an excuse or because I’m the CEO of a huge company and no longer just feeling my way around life—and living alone for the first time. It feels like my friends are gone (friends, if you’re reading this, I know you aren’t gone. I love you and love how we’ve managed to stay in touch).
This old woman and I are in completely different life phases but we connect. I’m there to hear her stories and make her feel less alone. And she’s there to remind me how magnificent it is to live a full life. Still, though, we both have these feelings of loneliness and a—sometimes—crippling inability to move on.
Savor the details
It never struck me just how much more there is to miss as life goes on. Even though I miss a lot now at 23, I thought this nostalgia is something I’d grow out of. It’s hard to move on at any age. Whether you’re reminiscing on last week or the last decade.
Life has so many beautiful moments worth missing. And how we decide to look at those moments—as debilitating or as wonderful glimpses into a great past life—says something about our character. Not good or bad. But how we cope. What our specific lenses of the world are like, regardless of age.
Apply it to your writing
Getting behind that lens is how we can make beautiful characters that remind us of the people we know in real life. Don’t be afraid to borrow from the beauty of those around you. Because writing about people, time periods, and experiences is the only way to keep them going.