It was only when I got to the end of the article about things TV doctors do that real life ones don’t that I remembered that I don’t watch any hospital dramas, and I have no ambitions to become a doctor (I actually had a conversation with my friend today about how great my fear of papercuts is and how I will never be a doctor).
This incident was vaguely reminiscent of yesterday, when I closely followed the news of Zayn Malik leaving One Direction although I’m not even a huge fan of the band. And then there was Tuesday night, when I scoured Twitter for news of who A is even though I have never watched Pretty Little Liars.
Thinking about it, I realized that I actually read a lot of things online that quite literally have nothing to do with my interests or life. This can be attributed to my natural curiosity, one which I’m sure many other writers have as well.
As a current writer and aspiring journalist I have always held the belief that writers, and especially journalists, should be interested in everything. You don’t always have the opportunity to choose what you want to write about; you might be grossed out by injuries – like I am – but at some point you might have to write about them. If you can’t make yourself curious about that topic, you won’t enjoy writing about it and the quality of your work may suffer from your lack of passion.
The best way to be curious about everything is to keep an open mind. It’s so easy to only expose yourself to things that make sense to your life, but curiosity is not playing it safe. You have to keep an open mind to things that might not directly fit into your life, and you have to try to make them fit into your life.
For example, the article about doctors that I read didn’t seem to make sense with any aspect of my life. However, after reading it and considering why I read it, I reminded myself of the fact that writers should be interested in everything; and thus, this post was born.
If you find it difficult to be curious about everything, try viewing things with a critical eye. Often, stories in the media are presented as absolute. When we question the assumption that everything in the news is true, we’re left with an entirely new perspective – and an entirely new curiosity. Anyone can write what the news is telling us; your writing will stand out if it challenges accepted truths, or sheds new light on an old story.
Sometimes, shedding new light means looking at a news event or story from your own personal perspective or even a perspective of someone different than you. For example, a few weeks ago I was working on a piece about pay inequity between genders. There are already a lot of articles on that topic, so I tried to think about what perspective I could give on the issue that would make people see it differently.
I am a teenage girl. My unique perspective struck me as I pondered that fact. I decided that I could explain pay inequity as it affects me, being the gender that is paid less for the exact same job. I could also explain being young enough that I don’t have a job, but that I still worry about pay inequity – and how it could affect me when I enter the workforce.
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it is a writer’s secret weapon. When we are curious about life we open ourselves up to a plethora of new experiences to learn from and write about. In Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project novel, she talks about shutting her eyes and choosing and buying random magazines from the store. She ended up with one about horses, and writes that although she didn’t have a lot of interest in horses she was intrigued by “the strangely fascinating life cycle of horse parasites”, and the challenges of hoof care and sick horses.
Today, I challenge you to be curious. Read one article or blog post that you normally would skip over. The worst thing that can happen is that you learn something new…. which actually isn’t a bad thing at all.