The Before and After of Writers

Hello SE friends, Gwen with you today, and I want to begin with a few questions.

Remember years ago, before you started writing? Remember how you spent your day, what your concerns were, how you measured success? It seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

When I considered these questions, I realized that writing can turn our personal worlds upside down. And if we look back to who we were before we began writing, we just might find a person we barely know. Our interests have changed, our values have shifted or become more refined. In effect, we’ve grown up – through the process of writing.

How could that be? What has changed?

If we could gather and share stories, I suspect we’d come up with a long list of examples of how writing has changed us. But without that gathering, I’m going to take the leap and offer ten gold standards that I believe we all can give a nod to. Here goes:  

Because you are a writer…

  1. You’ve become a better communicator. You’ve struggled for clarity in your writing, for each word to mean something. As a result, you express yourself more succinctly now. You think before you speak, you weigh your words, you choose them carefully.
  2. You also listen more intently. Your beta readers and editors have pointed out repetitive or unnecessary words in your manuscript and that has helped you hear those words in everyday conversations. You notice how people stumble over words, how they might slur their speech, how certain phrases are used again and again.
  3. You appreciate the intricacies of life. You’ve researched the era, the politics, and the geography of your stories. You’ve discovered different ways of living life, and now appreciate customs and generational patterns. They grace the pages of your books and give your story depth.
  4. You perceive differently. You notice incidentals you never saw before – the way a person holds their wine glass, the mindless tapping of fingers, the blank stares. Even a simple walk is a feast of visual stimulation. And you might see automobiles differently. I know that I notice the make, the color, sometimes even the license plate, and I never did before.
  5. Your memory is enhanced. You work to remember details – patterns on a shirt, broken glass on a sidewalk, an argument between strangers. You make note of these for your WIP or an idea yet to be born. You absorb what you can and hold on to it for a story.
  6. You’ve unleashed your creative side. A photo is no longer just a photo. It is a story waiting to unfold. You find yourself walking around its captured room, talking with the known or unknown characters. You think about ways to bring this scene into a story. Other times you wonder about the book cover and play with ideas and color.
  7. You are more goal directed than you were before. Deadlines, real or self-imposed, accompany your day. Time eludes you, there is never enough, to the dismay of family and friends.
  8. You weigh your decisions. You’ve learned to consider possibilities. The pros and cons of plotlines and character development have prompted thoughtfulness and notable scrutiny. Both have contributed to how you make decisions.
  9. You’ve become a world traveler, more aware of differences. Your research and writing have introduced you to peoples of all ethnicities, even though you may not have traveled on a plane or walked aboard a ship. The world, once mysterious, is now your home.
  10. You’ve discovered an international community. Through your blog and those of others, you’ve established friendships across the planet – readers and writers unknown before. Some of these friends are like family to you. You keep in touch through the written word. You celebrate their successes and suffer their disappointments. You look forward to hearing from them.

Did the list resonate? I hope so, and I also hope you’ll share how you’d add to the list. We writers have much to be grateful for, don’t we?

On a final note, I recently came across a statement by author Jonathan Safran Foer. His words seem particularly pertinent to today’s topic. He wrote, “Books make people less alone. That, before and after everything else, is what books do. They show us that conversations are possible across distances.” I couldn’t agree more!

Warmest regards, my friends, until the next time we meet…

70 thoughts on “The Before and After of Writers

  1. HI Gwen, thank you for this post. You have succinctly listed the benefits I’ve perceived in my life, especially my working life, coming from writing. I believe I am able to communicate in writing via email or other methods, much more successfully than I did before. I am also able to see the picture of pieces coming together in a transaction much quicker. The down side is, I can’t understand why other people can see the completed puzzle quickly and I can get a little impatient.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing those insights, Robbie. It’s amazing how much the task and joy of writing have changed each of us. Like you, I’m a better communicator now – I even edit my letters. All the best… 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list, Gwen. I’ve always been fairly goal-oriented, but I can definitely relate to your points about community and the larger world that writing and blogging foster. Making time for and valuing creativity is huge, as is the fun of being a life long learner, which writing demands of us. Love the positivity of this post. Smiling

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  3. Pingback: #ReblogAlert – This Week on #StoryEmpire | The Write Stuff

  4. This is so interesting. I had to stop and really think about how I filled my days before I started writing. It is hard to remember, but I still worked full-time, so that consumed most of my days. Then I was Rick’s caretaker for a few years, so the focus was there. It’s amazing to look back and see how the focus has shifted. I do think I’m a better listener. I’m still hoping for that “better memory.” 🙂 Great post, Gwen! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I think back, it’s a bit of a blur — working full-time, raising four kids. Like you, I don’t know how I did it all. Thank you, Jan, for the reminder that many of us now have much more time. 😊


  5. You made me do some serious thinking. Before I got serious about writing, I was serious about the people I spent time. Now, kids and grandkids have grown, and I spend serious time with “make believe” people–my characters. But people and their lives have always intrigued me. Except now, I have a little more control…until my characters don’t listen to me either:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The Before and After of Writers – Writing To OutLive

  7. I was just thinking about this, Gwen. Wondering about all that “extra” time and how different I was now. You covered so well the changes that occur as we learn and grow as writers. It is through new writing-eyes we look at the world. So many what-ifs , observations, obligations, curiosity and learning makes it like looking at things fresh much like a child does. This was a wonderful, and timely post for me, reminding us of our growth and accomplishments too. It’s a lot of work but do worth it. Thanks, Gwen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about how my life has changed over the last several years, but for different reasons. You raise interesting points, though. I do think nearly every aspect has taken on an added layer of meaning or been given more gravatas. I analyze simple things I’d have ignored before. Great food for thought, Gwen.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with all of these, Gwen. I started writing at an extremely young age (6) and never stopped, so for me my writing grew as I grew and changed as I matured. That’s especially true of the type of writing I did when I was younger (format, genres, characters) as to what I write today. Looking back, in all those years and all those decades there was never a time when I “took a break” from writing. I always had a pen and tablet in hand or a story idea swirling in my head.
    Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this post so much, Gwen. What has changed? Wow! That’s a loaded question for sure. My world has completely changed since I began to write. I picked up a pen to relieve stress after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s still a way for me to escape the pressures of life, but now it comes with other pressures. I love #10 and I’m so grateful for it! xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, dear Jill. The friendships we’ve formed through writing are extraordinary, aren’t they? Our unseen friends brighten our days. 💗


    • Thank you, Marie, for sharing. It takes a lot of courage to share our deepest thoughts with the public, and as you’ve discovered, our writing community helps us take that step. 💗

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I agree with all of these, Gwen. It’s easy sometimes to forget about the positive spin-offs to our lives that writing brings. One of the things is a shift in what counts as success. It’s all too easy to become caught up in the idea that success is calculated by how wealthy you are. I’m not going to make millions through my writing but the pleasure that comes with a positive review takes some beating! Thanks for this boost. x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree with you on all the points, Gwen. #1 Writing helps us to become a better communicator. Even when we edit our own writing, we try to rewrite to make clarification. #2 When I got the feedback from my beta reader and editor, I realized that the story line was clear to me but it wasn’t clear to the reader. Writing helps our memories for sure. When I do the photo challenge for my blog, I write stories, not just post photos. It requires me to remember what happened in the photos.

    Thank you for this insightful post, Gwen.💞

    Liked by 4 people

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