What have you done, and how has it helped?

Outside of being a writer, what things have you done, whether education, occupation, or experience, that have most helped with your writing?

My stories rarely include law, linguistics, or application programming, so the thing I’ve done that has helped most is the few years in high school when I worked at the hardware store. Man, I know every kind of tool, fitting, and appliance–for all your home improvement needs!–and I know what delivery drivers do when they’re “out on delivery.”

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Cool topic!

This is probably not terribly interesting, but definitely a lot of my travel has helped me with my writing. Just seeing different places and experiencing different cultures. I write mostly fantasy or speculative fiction, so this has either helped with broadening my worldbuilding or, if writing in a contemporary setting, by helping me to find other places I can set my novels than just the places I’ve lived in. (Not that you can’t write a book set in a place you’ve never been to - hello, Google Earth! - but it helps when you have some personal experience.)

I’ll have to think a little more on this, there’s got to be more things in my life I’ve used in writing lol.

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Yes! Travel is a big one. Detroit, Constanța, Tokyo, Busan–you just learn so much when outside of your home region.

Everything. Pretty much everything I’ve ever done feeds my writing. And the longer I live, the more things i can add to that really lengthy list.

Ask rather, what things have I done that have hindered my writing - the list is much shorter.

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I once was president of the board of directors of a non-profit organization. It brought me into the world of conflict management and resolution during a time of great stress and change. It was the first experience I ever had with such diversity of thought and such strong opinions. It stretched me to my very limits of understanding human nature–and the greatest gift it gave me was being able to incorporate that depth into my characters.

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I volunteer with two organisations.

One helps LGBT youth in New Zealand, and that’s really helped me write diverse characters and interesting characters, and characters with flaws that double as strengths.

And the other helps young adults with mental illness, so that’s done exactly the same as the above.

I usually write both of these things into my stories in one way or another, because I totally project a lot onto the things I write (and because I write the things I want to read, so naturally I wrote the minority groups I’m in), but volunteering has totally helped me actually flesh out these things and not just make them from my own point of view.

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