5 Ways Being a Writer has Helped Me Become A Better Person
Being a writer is often thankless work. It is sometimes too easy to lament about the isolation or the perfectionism writers suffer through in the name of their craft. However, there is a lot of benefit from just being a writer and you don’t have to be published or a best seller to experience these.
1.) Writing has made me consider complexities of character.
When writing ‘well-rounded’ characters, whether they are villains or heroes, the writer has to fairly represent the motivations and personal background and history of each character. Not all villains are just soulless monsters perpetrating evil in a vacuum, nor are all heroes squeaky-clean do-gooders. This necessity to ponder the very definition of why in some cases some characters are heroes and others are villains has made me realize how fine the line is between good and evil. In fact, in many cases it is only about perception of the character and the perception of the world around them, expectation of the character and expectations around them, and the kind of opportunity offered to the character that nuances the character one way or another. As a writer and inventor of these characters we have to hold all perceptions, expectations, and motivations in our head at once in order to create dynamic characters. I have found that this ability translates to characters in the real world too. Writers can see these nuances and complexities in real people, which makes us more understanding, curious, and sympathetic.
2.) I have more patience.
Writing anything, from a poem to a novel takes time. It takes time to incubate an idea, it takes time to write an initial draft, and it takes time to perfect and polish the idea. When I first set out as a writer I heard stories about writers churning out a novel a year and I was tempted to rush my own work. Maybe, someday I will reach such efficiency, but I doubt it, and I’m better off embracing time as an ally not an enemy. This is a lesson for all things in life. Time doesn’t have to be against us, and everything doesn’t need to be done tomorrow.
3.) I have a practice of meditative ‘Me-Time’.
Writing isn’t always about work, although we have to work hard to do it. Writing is also a meditation, and often times a self reflective exercise. I have found over the years that I have given myself regular space to write in, I am a quieter, more content person. I am not content because I am widely published (because I am not yet); I am content because I am regularly taking the time to express myself and quietly live in thoughtful worlds that I create.
4.) I am better at taking criticism.
As I have made my way through academic programs dedicated to creative writing, as well as faced editors, I have found that I have become more willing to listen to the opinions of others. In order to be successful, writers must learn what is worth defending in their work and what aspects of their work they must face and improve. It was all too easy when I first began to believe that every soul rendered word I put on the page was worth fighting for. I’ve been able to see through the years that critique is not only necessary, but it isn’t just about cold hearted belittlement dished out by pretentious know-it-alls. Critique can actually be a sign of care and respect. People are going out of their way to help you improve, and since I embraced criticism, I have certainly improved as a writer and as a person!
5.) I am better at facing rejection.
This kind of plays on the ability to take criticism. Rejection is a huge aspect of a writer’s life. In the beginning of the journey of being a writer, this can be daunting. In fact, it is never fun or easy, but it does get easier to see rejection in an objective light over time. I have been able to disassociate rejection of my work with rejection of my person. As well, just because one person rejects my work doesn’t mean that my work is ultimately bad. It is necessary to find the balance of what I mentioned above – what in your work is worth fighting for and what could you improve if you face too much rejection. In general this is a good lesson in life. We cannot please everyone, so we should remain true and good to ourselves in the opinionated and sometimes harsh world. However, we can take the time to dig deep and strive for improvement in our weaker areas if we constantly find opposition or rejection. Striving for improvement and facing rejection doesn’t make us less as people or as writers. The only harm in rejection is if it makes us quit. Quitting is the only thing that will make us bad writers.
So, keep writing!