Another month of the year has gone by, and it’s time for another authors’ Round Robin.
This month the topic is…
Does writing change the author? Do you think your writing has changed you in any significant way?
Another great question this month. After thinking long and hard, here are the five ways I think writing has changed me…
ONE: To be fair, I don’t know if this particular change has come about through writing but nowadays I’m far more likely to judge people by their actions rather than their words. When writing fiction, it’s not enough to tell readers that a character is always kind, or gets cross easily, or is mean with money, or any other of a thousand possible traits. You can tell readers till you’re blue in the face that a character is a certain way, but it won’t sink in or be credible to readers until you show that character in action helping an old lady cross the road, or shouting ‘w**ker’ at the traffic lights, or refusing to open her purse. It’s only by showing the character in action, and showing them behaving consistently in a certain way, that readers will truly believe in them.
In real life if people tell me that they are a certain way – eg I’m a very optimistic person, I’m always thinking of others, I’m not very clever – nowadays I wait to find out what they are really like through their actions first, rather than take their words at face value. We often have an idea of ourselves that’s become engrained, and which quite often isn’t how others perceive us, so it really is only through our actual behaviour, rather than our words, that we show our true characters. This is as true in real life as it is in fiction, and it’s been one of the main ways writing has changed my outlook.
TWO: Another thing that’s changed – and again, this may just be a result of getting older in general – is that I’ve always been the sort of person that wings things. I was pretty quick at school, which unfortunately meant I didn’t need to apply myself for long at my homework. My main takeaway from doing homework was that things could get done satisfactorily without putting in a great deal of effort. This didn’t put me in good stead in life, and it definitely isn’t the right attitude for being a writer. Writing involves hard work. I don’t know a single writer who has written a novel that didn’t require, at the minimum, a lot of effort, and as a general rule regular outpourings of blood, sweat and tears. It’s the same with my job as an editor. It’s no good winging it as an editor when your job is to help the writer get to the heart of a novel or, if you’re proofreading, your job is to focus on the details. Both these things involve hard work, and winging it isn’t an option.
THREE: Writing fiction (and reading fiction) have both helped me through some very difficult times. When you’re creating a new fictional world, and when you’re reading about a fictional world, you’re able to escape into a completely different place. As a writer you’re also in control of your characters and you control events in a way that is impossible in real life. This article by Mental First Aid England says that ‘reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60% by reducing your heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind.’ I’d say the same is also true of writing.
FOUR: Writing helps me keep my brain active. I often think trying to solve plot problems is like trying to solve a crossword puzzle. The answer doesn’t come straightaway, and you have to mull over it. It’s the same with trying to choose the right word or phrase, too. It’s easy just to go with a cliché, but trying to come up with a something new is a lot more difficult, and when the answer hits, it gives the same sense of satisfaction as filling in the last blank square in a crossword. Writing makes my brain work much harder than simply reading.
FIVE: Writing has helped me think more creatively. There is a story in everything if we only take time to look properly. I’ve started to see all sorts of things in a new way: events in my own life; articles I read in the newspaper; shows and films I watch on TV; conversations overheard; a group of people passing by on the pavement. Instead of being wrapped up in my own thoughts, I look at the world more closely. Ideas are all around us, and nowadays I’m far more likely not to let them wash over me, but to look at things afresh.
These are five ways writing has changed me as a person. I’m curious to know what the other authors in the Round Robin have to say on this thought-provoking topic. Please click on the links below to visit their posts.
Are you a writer? If so, how do you think writing has changed you? And do you read a lot of fiction? If so, do you think books have changed the way you look at the world? If you have any comments on this interesting subject, I’d love to hear them!
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2jz
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com