The Criteria for Life and Writing

One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau. It says,

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

I love it for two reasons:

1. It creates a criteria for writing

Based off of this quote, I can't just write about anything. I can only write about things I've lived through, experienced, had personal encounters with, learned for myself, etc. Just because I'm entitled to an opinion doesn't mean I can simply sit down and write about it if I haven't had some sort of encounter with it personally. That's why you won't be seeing much writing from me on creation and evolution, legalization of pot, the raising of the debt ceiling, or anything like that. Why? I'm not a scientist, economist, or pot-head. I have opinions on all three, but I'm no expert. I haven't had personal experiences with any of those. 

2. It creates a criteria for living

This is my favorite part of the quote. In order to sit down to write, you have to stand up and live. It's a challenge to live a life worth writing about. It's a challenge to experience life to it's fullest so you can share it with the world. In my short 20 years here, God has, for better or worse, given me plenty of experiences that most kids my age don't get to experience. But every time, I've come out the other side stronger, wiser, more experienced, able to relate to more people, more thankful for the life I have, and closer to God because of it. I wouldn't trade even the bad experiences because of all of the good I've seen from them. Now, I just want to live life on purpose. I don't want to wait for life to happen to me but I want to make life happen. Then and only then am I qualified to sit down and write.

It may sound morbid, but could they write a biography about you after you died? Would it say that you lived as safe a life as possible or an extraordinary life for the history books?

Even if you're not a writer, let this be a challenge to you.

Live a life worth writing about.