A topic of discussion I hear again and again from budding writers, musicians, or artists of any flavor, is “How do I become great?” From the outside looking in, art in its various forms must look like a skill. I mean, if you learn to make the strokes or play a song, that’s all there is to it? If you did well in English class you should be good at writing, yes?
But if you decide to go down the maddening path of artistic exploration, you soon realize skill is only 10% of what you do. The other 90% is inspiration and self-expression, and if you haven’t done much with your life, you won’t have much to draw upon.
Here are some assorted suggestions to be human:
If you do, or have done, at least a few of these, then congrats! You’re human. Now go express yourself.
Talk to a stranger who makes you uncomfortable.
Wear the same shirt five days in a row and see if anyone notices.
Fall in love with someone you know you shouldn’t, then get out before it’s too late.
Take a trip across the country by car. Stop often.
Take a hike that lasts more than 20 miles and includes sleeping outside.
Every time you go out to eat, try and find something on the menu you haven’t ordered before.
See if someone will let you drive their car, but make sure it is the opposite of what you drive.
Make a friend with someone who has different beliefs.
Drop acid and go hug some strangers.
Take a trip to Colorado, Washington, Oregon, or Amsterdam. Partake.
Have one more drink with an old friend.
Pull out an atlas, throw a dart within one hundred miles of your home. Drive to the place and take pictures. No Google maps.
Make as many friends as you can, but don’t be fake.
Go be alone for a while.
Take a shitty job.
Work a year in retail.
Have a religious experience.
Give someone in the friend zone another try. Best friends make the best spouses.
Dance naked around a bonfire.
If you’re not Canadian, try poutine.
Explore some level of kink with someone you are close to.
Pretend to be someone else for an entire day. New accent and all.
Get in an argument with a friend over something that doesn’t matter and later laugh about it.
Try an aesthetic look that doesn’t fit your personality. You might find out more about who you are.
Give a band you don’t think you would ever like a serious listen.
Get to know your family if you are able, whether you like them or not.
Find your tribe.
Lay on the beach and let the ocean wash over you.
Wear hot pants to church.
Read a holy book you don’t believe in.
Give the vegan diet a shot.
Go a year without drinking alcohol.
Learn a new skill.
Take a missions trip with an NGO.
Leave a server a massive tip in March.
Put your phone away for a week.
Speak with the ghost of Bob Marley.
See the rains of Africa.
Go to a dance club and stay all night. Drink no alcohol. Go to the after party too.
And most of all if you’re writing, read some fucking books. If you don’t ever read, you are only doing yourself, and the time you are putting into the craft of writing, a disservice.