I live to write, but sometimes life gets in the way. It’s the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. Now, I’ve said it, it sounds like a depressing existence, but it isn’t really, it’s just my favourite pass time. It’s all I’ve done from an early age, in various forms, some form this list will explore, but whether the memories were good or bad, at some point, I wrote about it.
I once remarked to a friend that negativity gave me another experience to write about as a way to explain the power my hobby holds. A bad break up equates to a great a poem. An ignorant tourist moment makes a fantastic travel tale. And an awkward conversation with a stranger adds depth to characters in short stories. Everything can be spun into a story. Of course, I’m human and prefer to seek out pleasure, but writing is more than just a hobby, it’s a coping mechanism.
I started writing to escape reality and pieced together storytelling lyrics, inspired by rappers such as Eminem and Nas. Gradually, the words became more truth, as I realised what it meant to confide in a notepad. Songs inspired me, but once I started writing my novel, reading became the perfect outlet. I’ve discovered a love of realism. To write about experiences close to me and the real-world. But there’s more to me than just writing, my interests and passions are far and wide-reaching. Maybe even more diverse than you’d expect. Perhaps not. Maybe, I’m another copy of every other aspiring writer.
Why Isn’t Reading Included on My List?
I love reading, but I love writing more. The act of reading, I consider a part of the creative process. A good piece of literature inspires me to write, and while everything on this list motivates me in some form or another, reading and writing belong together. What point is there to creation, if it’s not to produce something someone wants to read. Even if you don’t share it, you’ll read over it. Learning to read and write, go hand in hand.
Most writers started as readers, but some don’t read at all. I can’t tell you the best way forward, because I don’t fit either of them. I’ve always read, but before I started my novel, I read non-fiction. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d learn anything from fiction. However, I’ve since proved myself wrong. Stories have improved every aspect of my writing. From poetry to storytelling. Reading forms a vital part of my authorship.
To put it on the list would suggest it’s a separate hobby. Although it is, and I enjoy it, I look at books and ideas in written form as individual lessons. If I haven’t read a book in a while, I feel as though my writing suffers. However, the only thing that stops me reading is writing. I prioritise my book over reading the work of others. I need to write and to write I need to read, but everything else on this list can exist separately.
#1 Whisky Helps Me Write
If you read my poetry, alcohol features a lot, but it’s usually shown in a negative light. My posted poems include Crash (about drinking too much and destroying your life); Lust for Vice (detailing the bad habits I have); and Picture in my Wallet explores love lost to alcohol. I’ve reduced the enjoyment of alcohol to a trope with negative connotations. Maybe because I get too drunk and struggle to handle the loss of control. However, my love of whisky has nothing to do with binge drinking, but everything to do with the flavour.
I drank whisky as a teenager and developed a refined taste for the drink at university. I met a friend who at the time, seemed like an endless encyclopaedia of everything alcoholic. He worked at an airport in the duty-free. He felt as though he had an intimate knowledge of everything whisky related. We spent many nights trying different whiskies learning more about the spirit that we wouldn’t remember in the morning. It was the best of times.
These nights led me to write a poem in the form of a rap song called Water of Life, in which I expressed my love for whisky. I didn’t have much knowledge of the drink back then, other than knowing I liked it. However, I’ve improved my understanding of good whisky and what I like about each dram. I’ve grown as a writer since then too. That’s the reason I haven’t included the song in this post. Sorry.
#2 Cooking Before I Started Writing
My earliest food memory is peeling carrots for my nan, and her telling everyone how I helped cooked the dinner everyone loved. I had nothing to do with the meat, the potatoes, the other vegetables and the fantastic gravy she made. She credited me with helping cook the entire meal and witnessing the joy on everyone’s face as they tucked into their Sunday lunch engrained something in me. I became a chef.
I’ve cooked food for as long as I’ve written. But everything I do involves writing. I wrote my recipes and recorded notes about the things I cooked, and new foods I tried. You’d think I have a refined palate by the food I like cooking, but the truth is I have simple tastes. I hate seafood, but cooking fish is one of my favourite things to do. It looks more appealing on the plate compared to a slab of meat. Although a pink piece of flesh always makes me salivate.
There’s a difference between loving to eat and loving to cook. Indeed I love both but in different ways. It’s like reading and writing. I loved the Harry Potter series, and I almost cried when Ned died towards the end of the Game of Thrones, but I don’t think I’ll ever write a fantasy series. It’s the same with food. I prefer cooking delicate and visually appealing dishes, but given a menu, I’d choose a steak every time.
#3 Music All Day
Everything I do, I do with headphones in and music blaring through each earbud. I couldn’t imagine doing half of the stuff I do daily without music. I write to it, cook to it, just about the only I don’t do while listening to music is reading. Before I pick up my house keys, I reach for my headphones. My logic dictates, locking myself out of my house is bearable with something to listen to, after all, I’m going home to play some music.
While in Vietnam I did something stupid, more stupid than almost drowning, but I went swimming in the sea with my headphones in my pocket. I didn’t realise they didn’t work until I got to the airport alone. It was a long flight to neighbouring Thailand without a playlist. I paced up and down the terminal of Da Nang airport, but to no avail. None of the few shops in the small airside terminal sold headphones. Out of desperation at Bangkok airport, I paid £30 for a pair of headphones. It would’ve been a long trip back to London without them.
The only reason I don’t read to music is a habit. When I write to music, I tend to zone out, and no matter how hardcore the track is, it fades into a comforting flutter of background noise. Songs go by without recognition. Music motivates me. I love studying the lyrics, but it also helps me drift off and pour everything into an article, poem or story.
#4 Travelling and Writing About It
At twenty-four, I boarded my first flight. A few friends and I flew to Amsterdam for a few days. That was about four years ago, and since then, I’ve visited 12 different countries. I picked up a travel bug abroad and committed to seeing more of the world. I’d left the country before, on a road trip to Italy in my teens. With every new flight, the passion for exploring a different location and meeting new people grows stronger. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about my next trip and drawing up detailed plans about places around the world.
Growing up without travelling left me sheltered. I didn’t realise it until I visited the southern countries of South Africa. The variety of natural beauty and seeing my favourite animal up close without a cage between us. I wanted to reach out of the car window, and stroke a Lion, but William Steel told me it was a terrible idea. It was an arm I was willing to lose. It was a trip full of stupid thoughts, as I was too drunk of excitement. I left our driving registration at our last campsite and didn’t realise until we crossed the border into Namibia.
I aim to reach 30 countries by 30, but I don’t know if that’s a feasible target. There’s only so many restrictions I can overcome. I can afford a few holidays a year now, but I still have bills to pay and a future I still believe I need to work towards. If I’m offered the opportunity to achieve my goal, I’ll grab it with a clamped fist and never let go. However, just like I live to write, I work to travel, but work always gets in the way.
#5 Cycling to Inspire
Summer began winding down, but we were a youth team in need of sponsorship for the new football season, so we set up a bike ride along the canal and across London. We wet on a journey I’ve taken many times over the years, but as a kid, the distance felt staggering, and we wondered how much longer our little legs could peddle. Our parents led the way without effort. Every stroke of their peddle fulfilled with the full range of their adult hamstrings.
My dad and I had done many bike rides throughout my childhood. Then, as a teenager, we started riding BMX’s and building ramps out of planks of wood and bricks. We stacked concrete slabs as high as we could, and never thought about the risks. One day we stacked them tall, and pedalled down a steep hill, taking turns to outleap the previous jumper.
My friend decided to top us all, and set the bricks higher, removing the foundations around the plank. He raced down the hill and hit the ramp of the centre. The plank overturned. The back wall struck the bricks. His bike flipped forwards, and the momentum carried him the frame forward. He crashed into the ground. And bounced. Once, twice, and the motion carried him forward until he slumped twenty feet away from the ramp. He didn’t move. My dad raced to the park to administer first aid. He spent four days in the hospital, but it didn’t stop us or make us more careful.
Cycling has always been a part of my life, but now, I’m a little more cautious.
Bonus Feature – Not Writing
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I love writing. However, not writing feels great. It’s relaxing as though there’s more to life than merely putting pen to page. When I first began jotting my thoughts, I wasn’t in a good place. My mental health didn’t exist. However, like everything with time, it slowly improved.
It’s vital to take a writing break and acknowledge the reasons behind why I do it has changed. Now, I write for enjoyment, and not because it carries me through a dark period. Whether it’s socialising with friends or participating in one of my other hobbies, I can reflect on the enormous strides I’ve made since my late teens. Life doesn’t get easier, no matter who you are, but it does get better.
Loving something doesn’t mean obsessing over it constantly. It means knowing when to let go and enjoy time away from it. If all I did was write, my mental health would decline again. If I don’t take a break, then no amount of loving what I do could protect me from the thing that once saved my life, from having the adverse effect. I guess that’s true of everything. Too much of anything, no matter how good, can be a bad thing.
But still, I write.