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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…