Taking an old, blue bus for a 10,000-mile spin around the United States (with your spouse and four children in tow) contains no shortage of memorable moments.
We lost our brakes on the Teton Pass. We wandered aimlessly through New Mexico. Our bus overheated in Arizona and Nevada. We got stuck in a ditch in Virginia. We almost tipped over in South Dakota.
It was challenging and depressing, exhilarating and quieting, invigorating and humbling.
It was a lot like writing:
1. Both require preparation. We moved out of our house and put our stuff in storage. We packed for every season. We plotted a rough draft of our journey. We saved up money and learned a lot about the bus.
2. Neither will happen if you insist on over-preparing. If you wait until conditions are perfect, you’ll never go on the adventure because the situation will never be perfect. When we left on our trip, we didn’t have all of our financial stuff in perfect order, I didn’t have extra work lined up, and we didn’t know where we would live when we got back. Don’t let loose ends keep you from writing.
3. Both require a willingness to get very uncomfortable. The most meaningful adventures will have some very good times and very bad times. They’ll leave you reflecting on life and your place in the world. This is not always a comfortable place, and the same can be said about writing. Good writing will lead you to a place of transparency and honesty that will feel very much like racing down a mountainside without any brakes.
4. Neither will happen if you are obsessed with perfection. No journey worth taking will go perfectly or according to plan. Nothing worth writing will ever come out exactly as you imagined it. Embrace imperfection as an unavoidable outcome, and then turn the key.
5. Both will change your life. Adventures always change you. Adventures take life as you previously knew it, throw it up in the air, and then laugh when nothing comes down as you expected it to. Writing is the same. It’s impossible to truthfully tell your perspective without introducing the possibility of massive change.
So, there you go. Do you want to write? Do you want to go on an adventure?
What are you waiting for?
Shawn Smucker is the author of “How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp” and “Building a Life Out of Words.” You can find him on Twitter and Facebook, and he blogs at shawnsmucker.com. A version of this article originally appeared on Inkling Media.