The Writing Life: Survival Lessons

Survival Lessons book cover

I am a prolific reader. I’ve always loved escaping into amazing realms. From school days spent in the library, avoiding bullies, through today when I am fortunate enough to earn an income reading, editing, and writing, books have been like a best friend. They are a source of comfort, inspiration, and a well of infinite knowledge. Books continue to amaze me and stir an awe of people and life that is more important now than ever before. What more could anyone ask? Except, perhaps, to share those adventures in reading.

I love writing about books I’ve read. But this is not a simple review. I want to share how we can all benefit from something I read in a book. That book is Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman. This might seem like an odd choice for a blog for writers, but writing is a solitary experience. We may bounce ideas off friends to expand on our topics beforehand. And we may ask people to read and provide feedback on our work, but the middle part is fairly solitary.

Survival Lessons is all about choices. Choosing your heroes, choosing to enjoy yourself, choosing how you spend your time, choosing to plan for the future, all choices that we can make to live a more meaningful life. This should be easy for us. Writers make choices all the time. But how often do we choose to put ourselves, our wants, and our needs above everything else, including our writing? Self-care is challenging for many people, but writers spend a lot of time in their head and often neglect body and soul. So, here are a couple of suggestions to live a more balanced, connected, thoughtful, and joyful life.

Choose Your Friends

“I began to talk to neighbors in their eighties and nineties, people who had previously been nothing more than nodding acquaintances. I discovered what interesting lives they’d led and how much they have to say. Once I slowed down and took the time to ask questions, I realized they had a thousand and one stories.”

Alice Hoffman

It’s very important to have some balance in our lives. Maintaining friendships is critical. We need people who like and accept us, just as we are, and who make us feel good. People we can talk with about anything, not just writing. It’s too easy to get lost in our heads. We need to be grounded and be in our hearts sometimes, to stay sane and healthy.

We need people to look up to. Who inspire us. So, if you have good friends, hold on to them. Show them that you appreciate them. If you don’t have good friends, you need to find some. This is a daunting task at any time, but a real challenge during a global pandemic. You can meet people through organizations like Meetup and Eventbrite which offer events like virtual game nights, Zoom book clubs, online writing groups, spiritual meetings, and much more. It’s a great way to create some balance, have fun, learn, and meet people.

But you don’t have to sit in front of your computer. You can also go outside and talk to a neighbor. Everyone has stories to tell. You can make a friend and learn new things about yourself and life, make connections, and get inspired.

Choose to Give In to Yourself

“A puppy is never a mistake, though it is often a mess…  Sometimes that’s what you need most of all, not to be alone. Sometimes a dog knows that before you do.”

Alice Hoffman

We can learn a lot from a dog. They can teach us how to love life and live in the moment. Our relationships with dogs are a lot less complicated than those with other people. They love us with their whole heart and are always ecstatic to see us, even if we only went outside to put the trash in the bin. They are always there for us. They let us know when it’s time to eat, time to play, time to walk, and time to sleep. A dog won’t let us spend too much time writing to the exclusion of all else.

A dog saved my life once. After a profoundly difficult time in my life, he found me and taught me to love again.  Living with a dog can make you laugh, cry, scream in frustration, be joyful, and fill your heart with love. I can’t imagine life without a dog. They truly are a human’s best friend. You know what people say, life is better with a dog.

I think this book, which provides concrete ideas to improve life, can help anyone who is struggling – and I think we are all facing new and challenging difficulties during this global pandemic. We can always grow, learn, and love as long as we are alive. There is a significant difference between surviving and thriving and Survival Lessons can help you move closer to thriving. The more grounded and balanced we can be as people, the better writing we will do.

What are your tips for living a well-rounded life? What helpful books have you read lately?

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