In recent years, there has been massive growth in the production and attendance of music festivals. According to Billboard Magazine, 32 million people attend at least one US music festival every year.
As a lover of the humanities, I have been attending music festivals for half a decade now: my favorite festival is Electric Forest, a four-day event that takes place in Rothbury, MI. I am not oblivious to the negative connotations that are associated with these events—alleged drug-abuse and other safety concerns. I recognize them but am here to challenge them. I want to set the record straight that attending music festivals can be an extremely beneficial and positive experience. I would go as far as to say music festivals can improve your life and boost your creativity.
And most importantly, as they have for me, music festivals can make you a better writer. Here’s how:
1. The Celebration of Individuality & Strangeness
Below is a photograph of two strangers and me. When I saw this older gentlemen rocking his fabulous outfit—complete with a polka-dotted leotard and a pink-feathered boa—I had to document it! This man captures the very essence of music festival attire: an outfit that fully expresses ones true individuality. If you saw this man in his everyday life, chances are that he would be in jeans and a T-shirt or trousers and a Polo, just as almost every other American man wears; however, at Electric Forest, he is fabulous. I, too, have developed my equivalent of a fabulous outfit.
You are probably able to gather from my two pictured outfits that my festival style is about sparkle and fun. While many women feel their most beautiful in little black cocktail dresses and heels, I feel my best in my homemade, glittery ensembles. I feel as though I am embracing my full self—strangeness and all.
Writing (especially creative writing) is all about originality. Festivals simultaneously put me more in-touch with my individuality and original voice. I have become much more comfortable exploring unique techniques in my writing.
2. The Network of Others Who Are Pursuing Creative and Original Professions
The big-name artists who play at the main stage are not the only individuals at music festivals making their living off their creative pursuits. Music festivals often curate three to five stages where hundreds of acts perform. An attendee is bound to discover new music. What’s more, music festivals are packed with art installations created by professional painters and sculptors, merchandise vendors sell handmade, original items, and novelty performers such as the two men pictured above.
Observe the instruments the men are playing. They have created their own instrumental devices, one of which manipulates sound as the operator rides a stationary bike. I got an opportunity to speak with one of them. He explained to me that he makes a living with these types of performances. He travels across the globe to events just like Electric Forest to spread his gift.
As an attendee, you are constantly inspired to pursue your own creative calling and not let those talents go to waste. Completing a piece of writing takes dedication (practice, time, editing, etc.). As an amateur writer, I will admit, I struggle with how much effort and time I dedicate to each piece. I ask myself, “Will this be worth anything to others? Will this be worth anything monetarily?” These are valid concerns and I am not condemning myself for asking them, but I know the answer lies in my inspiration. If a man can make a living making music with a bicycle, pursuing his talents, then I can too.
3. The Realization that Fancy Tools are Unnecessary
In the modern age we are all living in, it is easy to get caught up in the use of technology to aid the writing process. Writers think they need expensive MacBooks to type up their work or the help of computer software; writers want to be sitting at a spacious desk, in a leather office chair, in a comfortably air conditioned room. Whatever writing process works for you is the one you should use. However, it is so important to remember that great literature starts with only two simple tools: paper and a pen.
I always bring a notebook or two and some pens to music festivals. As many music festivals involve camping (thus, living in a tent with no electricity), the paper and pen become my only tools for writing. In my personal experience, this off-the-grid writing process has proven to be productive and refreshing.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “In order to write about life, first you must live it.”
Attending music festivals has encouraged me to travel to many different states and spend time all over the country. Music festivals have exposed me to new and interesting conversations and friendships, often people I would have never otherwise been introduced to. And, of course, attending music festivals has given me experiences and memories I could not otherwise be a part of.
I have learned that a more exciting life makes for more exciting writing. Writers should not wait for inspiration to find them, but rather chase the inspiration down themselves!
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