Monday, June 16, 2014

Does Writing Make You a Better Person?

As writers and as people, we constantly work to better ourselves. We develop our craft. We try to be nicer. Usually, these are two different goals that must be achieved separately. However, sometimes we can improve both areas of our lives at once.

Learning patience is essential to staying a "sane" writer. Everything about the book business is slow. You have to wait to hear back from beta readers, critique partners, agents, editors, publishers, reviewers. It takes months for a book to be published even after it's been sold.

But patience is a good thing to have for non-writing related interactions as well. It makes you a better business negotiator and customer service representative. Your own personal relationships will benefit from better communication and less frustration.

The ability to listen also helps in the examples above. Writers learn to listen in an attempt to garner experiences for their writing. Many writers have mastered the art of eavesdropping. In this way, they study realistic dialogue and displays of emotion.

Beyond outward people skills, writers foster a better general understanding of people. It's easy for us to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. If it wasn't, it'd be impossible for us to write our stories. Writers know that everyone thinks and reacts differently. That everyone has a reason for doing what they do. It's a small switch from utilizing this way of thinking in their work to exercising it in their day-to-day confrontations.

Writers also know that no one is perfect. Everyone has flaws. And writers have learned to see the beauty in those flaws. A perfect character is boring. It's one of the first things a writer learns. It's a rule that applies to real people just as well. Our blemishes shape us into who we are. A writer recognizes that.

I'm in no way saying that writers are superior human beings who trail rainbows in their wake. I myself can be rather moody and I'm not always the most fun to be around. But I'm still growing, still "trying to be nicer," as we all are, and I think writing urges that along.

What about you? Does writing make you a better person?


  1. Okay, so I learned in my ATP class that there are different stages of cognitive development. The last stage (four I believe) is where a person's brain has such a strong grasp of reality that they are able to think in hypotheticals. This goes beyond such concepts as "object permanence" which is something we learn very early on that "out of sight" doesn't mean that the thing has completely disappeared. What you are talking about here is that writers have the ability to think in hypotheticals. And there is 4% of the population that never attains this. Yes, 4% of people in full blown adulthood never develop the ability to think like we do. The fact that you attained it so early is kind of shocking but is a testament to your braininess. Does this make us a better person? That depends on how you define the word "better." But its healthier when people can think critically, and not just accept what a person says as absolute.

    1. Hmmm... maybe I should have said "nicer" person. Really that's what I meant.

      I didn't know that there were people who couldn't think hypothetically. O.O That's kind of mind-blowing to me. I just thought some people were better at it than others.

      I always enjoy your comments, Michael. They're very insightful.

  2. Going to work in a normal workplace every day gives an incentive to be nice, to keep the job. Having to maintain a long distance working relationship over the long haul puts those skills to the test. It's easy to send off an e-mail with the same loose words of an everyday conversation, but it takes a little thought to make sure it doesn't read as if the sender is impatient or offended (even if the sender really is both of those).

    1. I like your examples of how writing helps us be nicer in our every day lives, Mark. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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