I've always loved the idea that all of life's experiences are fodder for a writer's fire. Because essentially, this implies that the older I get, the better my writing will become. *plucks a grey hair* (Hey, a girl can hope, right?)
There is something to be said for having lived, truly lived, through something. It lends a certain credibility to writing that a mere sympathizer could never have.
Developing the main action in a plot hinges on this very thing. Conflict, mystery, and lack are the three primary aspects of action in the plot of any story. Sometimes a story focuses on only one—sometimes all three, but these are the things that ultimately drive a protagonist to greatness, or conversely, to failure.
And, not surprisingly, these are the things that drive a writer to the same.
Wouldn't it be fantastic if we grew (in the emotional/spiritual/inward-strength sense) primarily through success and gain? —Through the accumulation of much and the affirmation of all? —Only the good, never the bad? Unfortunately, this never makes for a very strong character—on or off the page.
Someone told me once to lean into my experiences—all of them. "Don't waste either your pain or your joy," she said. The beautiful and the ugly alike lay a foundation for every aspect of my life. Leaning into both provides strength to meet the future and whatever it holds with perseverance and joy (and joy is different than happiness, you know).
Nothing catastrophic has happened in my life recently to spur this train of thought, and I'm thankful for that. But I'm not so foolish to think that nothing trying will ever traipse through my days. I know it will, and that isn't me being overly pessimistic. It's just me being prepared. Leaning in. The foundations I lay now will make me a better writer. But more importantly, they will make me a stronger protagonist in my own life story.
How about you, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? How are you leaning in, on and off the page? I'd love to hear your thoughts!