I was playing around with my daily writing exercises (gotta keep those writing chops in shape) recently, and since this month I’ve been playing around with charging up my creativity, I started putting together a list of questions to push the brain cells into overload. One of the questions that really fascinated me dealt with looking backwards at your life… “If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in high school, what tip would you share?”

Coming up with advice is pretty easy in itself…

• Invest in Microsoft.
• Don’t wait so long before trying to get your writing published.
• Don’t let the doctors miss the tiny tear in your meniscus that led to the current condition of your knee.

Etc., etc., etc.

What really gets interesting with this question as a creativity drill is to think about what happens to your life if your younger self follows through on this advice. How does your life change? How does it affect the mish-mash of experiences that contribute to your personality? Who won’t you meet because of these changes? What won’t you learn because of this?

Simple actions take on a whole life of their own as they take your life for a spin down new paths. Take for instance a simple thought like, “What if I never joined the military?”

• Never would have gained the tons of confidence I earned in combat control and survival instructor training.
• Wouldn’t have a firsthand vantage point of the workings of the military… the knowledge of which opened the door to my first big writing project.
• Wouldn’t have met my wife.
• My job in computers could have developed differently and might not have put me in a position to ride out the bursting of the tech bubble.
• Wouldn’t have met the friends that put me in a position to meet and date (for a short while) a Victoria’s Secret model.
• Wouldn’t have gotten all the extra fiction writing experience from assisting my supervisor with writing performance evaluations.

And hundreds of other things also change. Some small, some big. But all of them because of that one choice. Gets kind of crazy when you think about it, but crazy’s good. Crazy gets you some fun material to work with in your writing. Crazy makes life a bit less boring.