For a while musician and writer Narissa Nield blogged about taking boxing lessons. It's not that Narissa was into boxing, but one of her characters, inexplicably, was. And in order to write about it properly, she needed to get suited up and step into a boxing ring and spar with a trainer herself.
Both of these writers did what they needed to do to make their characters and their writing authentic. They learned what their characters would already know, they experienced the sights, the smells and the feel of what their characters lived. Instead of imagining these things, they made each of them real for themselves so they could make the experiences real for their readers.
It's a very short step from this type of dedication to your characters and your writing to an absolutely waygreat excuse to do/try just about anything fun you've ever wanted to do.
Ever thought about hang gliding? I have. (and not only when I think about listing The Things That Terrify Me for The Amazing Race) For me, I can't justify the expense. However, if I had a character that was into hang gliding, I'd have to try it, right? (Right) So why wait until I have a character already telling me that s/he hang glides and is waiting impatiently for me to do it myself to be able to write about it and do the experience justice? Why not do it before I have such a character? Who knows, maybe in the process of hang gliding I might start finding such a character and a story?
This excuse works for just about everything. Look, your friends and family already know you have a different slant on life because of your writing, right? They're used to you researching all sorts of "Where to Dump the Body" type of things. Why should just about anything be out of the question, then?
I'm serious here. Writing may be one of the most head-bangingly frustrating experiences I've ever voluntarily put myself through, but it also offers vindicates me from having to come up with any better excuse for trying something.
Eating really hot food? There's a character for that. Bungie jumping? There's a character for that. Beekeeping? There's a character for that. Knitting? There's a character for that. Playing boardgames that take days, if not weeks, to complete? There's a character for that? Learning French cooking? There's a character for that. Talking on a iPhone? There's a
Who cares if you don't have that character just yet -- or if you never do. This is an unwritten perk of writing that we should happily exploit.
So, take full advantage of it and live life!