5 Ways Experience will Improve Your Internal Thesaurus

5 Ways Experience will Improve Your Internal Thesaurus is a kind of culmination of emotional discord in my life. Creative types rely strongly on their sense of imagination and what they can dig out of their subconscious minds–arguably, where a vast pool of information resides. Lately, I feel a longing to travel, to fly planes, to play with drones and to hike down into a volcano. As a result I am planning a writing trip to England that will take us from Manchester to London, with me teaching writing workshops along the way.

Still, as I read books by certain authors like Hemingway and Maugham, I realize how fertile their words are. Fertile in that their writing seems to spring from what they have experienced in their travels, their jobs, and their personal lives and not a quick search of an online thesaurus.

Hemingway-LookingIntoCameraHemingway traveled to a war torn Spain, was shot and recuperated in a hospital there. After the war, he traveled for work as a correspondent. He also traveled to hunt large game and big fish. He carried his rifle around with him. I’m not suggesting you go somewhere and get shot, but you see how his experiences rounded out his writing, right? And Maugham’s experiences took him to Tahiti and India among other places. His novels exude colorful lands and an interesting quarry of people who live in those lands.

Maugham_retouchedBoth authors had emotionally-distant adult men in their lives–Hemingway’s father and Maugham’s uncle who raised him. Their personal lives were difficult and oppressive. And although the Thesaurus was first published in 1852, I find it difficult to think that each man relied on a thesaurus as they sat writing. School was different back then. It certainly was when I was a kid. We relied on books rather than our computers for information. Books like the dictionary, encyclopedia, and, yes, the thesaurus sat available on my desk as I studied my homework.

So, what are the 5 Ways Experience will Improve Your Internal Thesaurus? 

  • You will meet people who will broaden your knowledge base. When you travel to different countries, you hear how they speak, their dialect, their different idiomatic sayings, like “G’day, mate,” for example or “Voila!” And although these phrases may sound funny to us, you will find that this is how people speak in different languages and that these phrases are completely normal to those living in the country. Like how we say, “You gotta be kidding?” and “Whatcha doin’?” A foreigner may find our phrases interesting–even funny. You’ll learn to hear voice.
  • If you stay for long periods, months or years, you will of course learn different character traits brought about by cultural mores in different countries. I have to believe that a young girl raised in an orthodox Afghani family lives a wildly different life than I lived as a young girl growing up in the US. When I was a kid our society was shedding stereotypical female roles and embracing a freer mindset of how women’s roles might be. Conversely, young girls in Afghanistan may be experiencing a stricter role where their expectations are to cater to the men in their lives first and themselves second, if at all. And what does their future look like? Their experiences must be critically disparate from ours in these United States. You will learn character development.
  • You will see new flora and landscape. You will smell new smells. Remember, we’re not all going to travel to Tahiti and eat poi and wear leis. We won’t all get to smell dewy honeysuckle in the morning or feel the grainy texture of poi on our tongues. No. Some writers will want to experience the gritty places cities can offer, like Tacoma. I remember when I first moved to the Pacific Northwest and traveling past Seattle as I drove to a writer’s conference in Portland. I had to drive I5 through Tacoma where the pulp mills are. The smell reminds me of someone’s mildewy tennis shoe. That was 1997. Since then they have cleaned up that smell but in the day they referred to it as the Aroma of Tacoma. You will learn setting and place.
  • If you travel to countries that speak different languages you will learn some new words. I’m currently judging a writing competition where I read the first 25 pages of a novel–a brilliant novel–about a young Somali man who speaks several languages. The author incorporates French, Somali and Arabic into this manuscript and does it expertly as well. You will build your repertoire of words–of your common tongue and of others.
  • Experiences-ActivityListThis last reason is a little more ethereal. You will relax in your experience. What does that mean? Well, our daily lives are filled with expectations and “to do” lists. We have work to go to. We have family to tend to. We have the house to clean and the dogs to feed. Cat boxes too! We mustn’t leave out cat boxes. When we leave our normal environs we can open our minds to these new experiences. We shed our daily persona. We unlock our subconscious and conscious minds and write with inspiration that we pull from traveling to these new lands, when we jump on a zip line or when we go to a prison in a ministerial role. You will more easily tap into your creative self.

I guess the most important take-away from this post is that as writers we will build our vocabulary. Words are our lives. I want to build my life not let it go sedentary.

So, what have you done on your list of life experiences? Is it crammed with amazing adventures? Or, is it light? Do you find yourself longing to get away, like I do, and travel to England to write? If so, start experiencing what your new life can be, today. Hey! You can even join up with me next April if you want.

I write books.

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