5 ways writing has changed me

Another month of the year has gone by, and it’s time for another authors’ Round Robin.

This month the topic is…

helena fairfax, freelance editor, fiction editor
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.

helena fairfax, freelance editor, romance
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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.

helena fairfax, freelance editor, romance
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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

31 thoughts on “5 ways writing has changed me

  1. Bob, I hadn’t thought about this first point until I began writing, and it was reinforced for me when I began editing fiction for other writers. It’s been another interesting topic. Thanks very much for dropping in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anne, Both reading and writing have helped me over the years, in different ways. It’s been great looking over all the positives to both in this post. Thanks for dropping in, and for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your points ring loud and clear. As a writer I’ve had a taste of them all in some form or the other. And I couldn’t agree more that there is a story everywhere waiting to be discovered. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was interesting having to think this topic through, Terveen. It’s made me think about my writing in a different way. Interesting to know the points resonate with other writers, too! Thanks so much for dropping in, and for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on all of the points, although I, too, wonder if it’s just life experience that’s taught me not to take what people say at face value or from the writing. Although I do tend to judge people on instinct. It’s saved my hide a few times.

    A very thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for your interesting comment, Marci. Other posts have talked about learning to be more empathetic through writing (and reading) fiction, and I think people who can judge others well on instinct have a high degree of empathy.
    It’s been another great topic. Thanks very much for dropping in!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome post. With you, I have to admit that some of the growth I see stemming from my writing is also influenced by experience, but it’s always there. Even if just tiny things and all those tiny things add up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Skye, I only started writing late in life, but it’s interesting to see how other writers’ work has developed/changed over the course of their lives. I really enjoyed this topic again. Thanks very much for dropping in!


    1. Thanks so much for dropping in, Niraj. I’ve had to think creatively around my blogs, too, and try to come up with new ideas, or express old ideas in a new way. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment. I look forward to checking out your blog!


  6. You have five strong points. It’s true about characters showing the reader what they are truly like and it reaches into reality when dealing with people. And writing is hard and time consuming, but can be so creative! I enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much for organising the topic, Robin. I’ve really enjoyed thinking about this, and it’s made me look on my own writing with fresh eyes. Thanks for dropping in!


  7. Hey, Helena. My goodness, you’ve had some really deep thoughts on this subject. For me, writing has made me more observant. I always was to an extent. You know on those personality tests, I always scored on on input. What are the facts. What does it look like. How can I make a decision without sufficient input. LOL But now I take note in a different way of how that bird sings or how the wind lifts the back of my short hair on my morning walk. The piece of litter that is there now, but wasn’t yesterday. And you’re point of knowing people by what they do is so spot on. It doesn’t matter how great the words you say are if you don’t live up to them. I think I’ve hit on the makings for a great villain. :) Loved this post and I’ve shared. :)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that you’ve had an idea for a great villain! That’s the writer finding ideas in everything. And I love how you observe things on your walk. I’ve started to do that so much more now, too. Thanks so much for your great comment, and for sharing. I appreciate it!


  8. The first one is something that’s only struck me as I started writing seriously. I’ve really enjoyed this month’s topic. Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your comment!


  9. In my case, the whole process of life and writing which led to DEAR MISS LANDAU was profoundly life-changing but i wouldn’t have been able to benefit from the experience by writing about it if I hadn’t spent most of the previous twenty years sweating blood on MACNAB, my Great Scottish Novel. So there’s no question about it: you wanna be an author, you can’t wing it.

    Researching MACNAB also gave me a profound and complex understanding of early Scottish history, Christianity, Islam, Columba, gospel illuminated manuscripts and quite a lot of other stuff which materially contributed to a life well-lived. It actually made me somewhat sceptical of any belief that all education happens in school, and it always felt like I’d done about two PhDs worth of work.

    Overall, the experience of both books lifted me out of life’s mundanity and ruts, and gave me several glimpses of that shining city on a hill so few ever see…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great reply, James! You’ve made me reflect on how much I’ve learned, too, in my research, especially for my non-fiction book, Struggle and Suffrage in Halifax, which is about women’s lives in the town from 1800-1950. Researching and writing that book was an eye-opener, and I learned far more than I ever did in my history classes at school. The whole process did indeed lift me out of ‘life’s mundanity and ruts’, and so has writing in general.
      Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your thought-provoking comment.


  10. Changed by writing ? Thanks for leading me to so many inspiring writers, willing to analyse their own work, how much they achieve through effort, and also – how much they discover from what they’ve written.
    Why persist in trying to write, when not really a writer ? Is this inexplicable ? Allowed, at last, to welcome friends, staying with us last wee ( and hugging) , what did we do, as the rain lashed down ? We wrote, untill the rain stopped at last, then shared ideas in the hills.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That sounds such a lovely week, Esther! It sounds very Bronte-esque, and I can imagine the sisters in their little front room as the rain lashes down.
    Someone did ask me once why I continued to write when often it was an effort and a torture. I’ve thought about that question often, and I still don’t know the answer. I just want to put on paper the stories in my head.
    Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your great comment!


  12. Not quite Bronteland .Almost due north. After months of staying at home, admit we drove to where the met office said it wasn’t raining – One of the Defence Estates.( East of the Sun, in an MTA, ) Eden valley. One of last week’s not yet published writers / very good friends, has just suggested a house swap later this year.- Writing retreat, covid friendly…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds idyllic! And I love the idea of a writers’ house swap. No being sidetracked by jobs around the house – and even better if they don’t let you have the internet password. Hope your retreat comes off and is fruitful.


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