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Journaling for Creativity.

Life On The Right Hand Side Of The Menu

09-04-29a Augapfel, chinese menu

In my earlier post where I discussed the focus required by successful writers to make time in their lives to actually sit down and write “Sorry but I am too busy writing”.
I made a reference at the end that there is a negative flip side to the quality of your writing when you bury yourself in your work.

If you spending more time living at the keys than in the real world, then when do you get to experience all the pleasures, woes, tastes, textures, colours, aromas, pongs, pain, joy, sounds, emotions… When do you experience life?

And if you have limited life experience then what effect do you suppose it will have on your writing? We all write best about the things we know, the more experience we soak up from living life, then the better our writing can be.

Do I hear cries of woe? After all, the previous post detailed where life occludes our writing and it suggested a useful technique to push life aside for a short while. Yet now I am advocating you experience more – where are you to find the time?

Any suggestions?

We are all conditioned to squander the opportunities presented to us, I don’t know why; it is just something that people do. I call it “living on the right hand side of the menu” and what I mean by this is simple.

How often, when you go to a restaurant, do you scan down the right hand side first comparing either what is the least expensive or more likely, which gives the best value for what you are prepared to spend? If you don’t do it with food I’ll bet you do it with your house, car, clothes, leisure, etc.

Now think a bit broader, apply that thought to people. I’ll bet you even do it with your friends.

We naturally go for the SAFE choice, the taste we know, the brand we are COMFORTABLE with, the writer friend we can EASILY have a conversation with. Do you see where I am leading ? We squander new experiences every day of our lives without realising it.

What to do? This is the easy part, all you have to do is move your eyes across to the left hand side of the menu, not just food menus, all menus. However I warn you doing it will be more difficult than you think. Select with emotion and desire, try things you have never tried, especially from the more outlandish opportunities. Put thrift aside for a while, seek out, enjoy and record the rich experiences available to you.

Do this with people. Talk to the scary biker, converse with the little old lady in the lift, take an interest in the weird youth with all the metal in her face, and if the biker asks you if you would like a ride – say yes. If he doesn’t make the offer – then ask!

After reading this I hope most of you are nodding and thinking “I could do that” “yes I see that” and are resolved to make some changes. So I will ask you a simple question.

Where are you going on holiday this year?

Anyone short on ideas look up your Twitter search page and enter #bucketlist, there is a whole world out there wishing to give you a lifetime full of experiences.

What will you do differently? Please tell us in the comments, we would all love to know.

Photo “Cowboy Bone, or Button up the Duck”, cc Augapfel

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6 comments to Life On The Right Hand Side Of The Menu

  • Jan

    I’d not be doing things any different from what you’ve advised. They are solid and sensible stuff – can’t argue with that.

    I too have a tendency to squander opportunities presented to me every day. Will have to make a better effort at making full use of these gifts.

    I have to unplug more often from the net and live and have a full life experience.

    This is a splendid post. I’ve enjoyed every morsel of it. Thanks.

  • andyshack

    Jan, I’m very pleased that you enjoyed it that much.

    Thanks for the nice words

  • Jim Sutton

    I have been doing things differently the last 12 months.. good advice and you are correct in it being easier said than done, but worth it!

  • Vicky

    I think you are building a cool site and I see lots of interesting things to come back and explore :) I just came from problogger!

    When I am open to it, I find stories in everything all the time. And I have started just jotting notes down and then stringing them together later.

    No holiday this year… and even that is a story!

  • Andy Shackcloth


    It also never gets any easier, we seemed programmed to want to conform. Even the other day I caught myself ordering chicken, can you believe it? Trouble is I like chicken – Ho Hum.

    Thanks for tweeting this post.


    Thanks for the praise.

    Isn’t Darren’s site and his 31DBBB challenge absolutely awesome? If I ever get to Aus, I would like to look him up and buy him a cold beer. Anyone reading this and hasn’t come across Darren check him out here.

    I do the same with story snippets, jot them down then expand them into what I call a skeleton, which is just a story board of the idea. Then they sit in the dark waiting for me to return.

    Another little thing I do is write ‘beats’, they are ‘very’ small bits out of my head that I jot down, more an exercise in description of events than anything else.

  • PeacefulWmn9

    Hi Andy…I found you in Darren Rowses forum and thought this would be an interesting place to visit. And it is.

    For me, life is all about finding the right balance. I just blogged 25 things I have implemented into my own life to be more positive.
    Variety is good!

    Your post is very thought-provoking. We can all do with a challenge to make some positive changes on a regular basis.