Wanderlust

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins

No matter how much I love my home, the comforts of these walls, the love of my family and the peace and familiarity of a place I call my own, no matter how eagerly I return to it when I’ve been gone for a time, yet always in my heart is the yearning for a new adventure, for a place I’ve never seen, for new paths to walk and new sights to see. It is the call of the road.

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the road has gone
And I must follow if I can

There is a name for this feeling: Wanderlust. While I can’t say for certain, I feel like most men I know feel this at some point. When their roads only lead them to familiar places and they haven’t wandered far from home, there is a building unsettled feeling that yearns to go a-wanderin’.

It isn’t that a man wants to leave his home, either. It isn’t that he wants to pick up and move far away, or that he wants to stay on the road. It is good for him to have a place where he is loved and where he can kick his boots off and sit by the hearth. But it is also good for him to have those adventures to keep his spirit young and to keep him growing.

I have the privilege of taking teens on mission trips during the summers, and I often get to go places I’ve never been before, see new sights, do new things. And even when we go to places I’ve been before we always find some new experience while we’re there.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Andrew Peterson lately. I might even be accused of obsessiveness with his music. But that’s just because his songs resonate so deeply with me, and a big part of that is that he evokes the sense of wonder and adventure that a young man feels as he sets out into the great big world, eager to do so much, yet always knowing that there is a place where he is loved.

Wanderlust. Adventure.

For a writer, these are good feelings, and there are two ways as I see it to channel them to make them feed the story:

1. Wander the world for inspiration. New sights, new places, new experiences all give you more things to write about. The old maxim, “Write what you know” (which I think is kind of crap, but that’s another topic), is predicated on knowing things. The more things you’ve seen and experiences you’ve had, the more you know to write about. And as you wander, you can look for those perfect settings that either call for a story or slide right into one you’re writing.

2. Wander worlds of your imagining. It may seem kind of cheap, but when the door just isn’t open to go out onto the road, you can still use the road as inspiration. The trick is learning how to build that world in your head, and let your imagination take it places. If you can harness the ability to let a world create itself as you go through it in your head, not only do you now have a setting for your story, but you have your place to go to slake your thirst for adventure. I know, I know, it will never replace the real thing. But it gives you something to hang on to until the road is open again.

So! Wanderlust! Adventure! Use it, figure out how it fits in your writing life, and go write something new!

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