Dan Erickson is a single dad of nine-year old Annie. He’s also a teacher, musician and minimalist. He has an M.A. in communication, works in education, radio, television and journalism and writes about simple living on his blog hipdiggs.com
I reached out to him and asked if he could answer a few questions so I could put together an interview for my blog. He kindly accepted my invitation and here is the result:
1. Dan, could you tell us a little bit about your trajectory of life and how you came across minimalism?
I lived as a minimalist before it was cool. When I was in my 20s, in the late 1980s, early 1990s, I lived a simple life. I did it more out of circumstance and poverty, but in hindsight, I was learning the art of minimalism. I lived in a 10-foot trailer, rode a bicycle as my only mode of transportation, and probably owned less than 100 items.
In time, I returned to college, made more money, and began to collect stuff, like an average American. After a couple of long distance moves, I realized that too much stuff was weight. I didn’t want weight, so I started the process of letting go. As a single dad of a nine-year-old girl, I’m not as much of a minimalist as I’d like to be, but I’m constantly aspiring to live with less.
As a musician, I also became interested in the art of minimalism. I began to study the art of writing simple and sparsely-produced songs. As a writer, I explored simple forms of writing. I also began to study minimalist architecture and design. I see beauty and power in less rather than in more.
2. You are an author and a blogger. Are those common paths for minimalists or do you see more unconventional ways of making a living while living a simple life?
I currently make my living as a full-time college instructor. I’m not sure if other minimalists make a living as authors and bloggers. Surely there are some, such as Leo Babauta of www.zenhabits.net and Joshua Becker ofwww.becomingminimalist.com. I think music, art, and photography are good options for minimalists, too. My goal is to make a living as a writer. I often say that when I make enough profit from writing to become debt-free and self-sufficient, that I’ll downsize.
3. Could you tell us a little bit about your books and how minimalism has helped you to improve your writing?
Minimalism played a major part in the first book I wrote. “A Train Called Forgiveness” is a story about a child who was victim of a cult. The story is based on my own history. It’s told by the child as a young man. He tells the story in a very minimalist fashion. The story is written as if the protagonist is speaking directly to the reader. I intentionally used short, simple sentences and tried to tell the story with as few words as possible. You can learn more at www.danerickson.net/a-train-called-forgiveness
I also write poetry and songs. Poetry and lyrics are more minimalist forms of writing because great songs and poems can tell the same stories as works 10, or even 100 times longer. As a writer, minimalism has improved my writing. I make effort to attempt to only use a as many words as needed to make a point.
4. For those who are considering giving minimalism a try, what advice would you give them?
Minimalism isn’t for everybody. Most people look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them you aspire to live in a 400-square-foot-house and ride a bike as your main source of transportation. For those who are considering a minimalist lifestyle, I’d encourage them to give it a shot. I’d encourage them to go all out from the onset. Living in small spaces with less stuff, makes life simple, peaceful, less expensive, and provides more time and space for creativity and travel.
5. Dan, please, tell us which are the 5 main benefits you have gained since you became a minimalist.
1. I have less physical property to be concerned with. I don’t need to worry about theft because I don’t attach myself to stuff. This also helps to put emphasis on the importance of people and relationships.
2. It’s easier and less expensive to keep up a small home . I only spend an hour or two a week cleaning my home. It’s also costs less to heat my home.
3. I get more time to exercise and travel. Having no TV gets you outdoors. Having less stuff, less bills, gives one the time and finances to do more travelling.
4. By living with less stuff, I have become much more productive. Many of the things we buy steal our time. TVs, video games, recreational equipment, all pull you away from creativity. Minimalism has helped me write 100s of songs and poems and several books.
5. Minimalism has helped focus on my spiritual life. Material things pull you away from philosophical and spiritual thought. I’ve noticed that most minimalists take the time to ponder things that really matter, including our place in this world.
If you liked this interview, please feel free to suggest other potential interviewees who are living an unconventional life and have a story worth sharing!
Interview by Sávio Meireles
Savio is an independent traveller and dynamic communicator, with a passion for unconventional travel and Lifestyle Experiments. He is currently making the transition to the Digital Marketing field and working on becoming Location Independent. Savio is originally from Brazil and has been living as an expat in Australia since 2011. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @saviomeireles.