Today’s post was written by Brandon Dahlberg.
Taking on a writing project has the potential to be an enriching and educational experience. There are many lessons we can learn from our writing, but these three are especially important.
1. Inspiration is everywhere
You’ve got an idea for a story, know who your protagonist is, and are ready to sit down and put words on the page. A few pages later, you’re out of steam, with no idea what’s going to happen next. When this happens, it’s important not to put undue pressure on yourself to create a specific thing. Take a step back. Listen closely to the conversations around you. Look close at your personal landscape. Note all the details, sights, sounds, smells, and how each makes you feel. Every day, incredible stories are happening all around us. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of paying attention and finding the story that’s just under your nose.
When you begin examining the world around you more closely, you’ll find your whole quality of life improves. That examination fosters curiosity and wonder. You ask and answer questions that never would have occurred to you otherwise. And every day, you learn something new. It enriches every aspect of your life.
2. Perseverance is rewarded
Writing won’t always come easily and it won’t always be fun. The process is rarely smooth or glamorous. There will be days when you absolutely dread cracking open that manuscript. You’ll have to muster all of your discipline to push forward, and if you do, your perseverance will be rewarded by progress. Writing a book is the kind of project you take one page at a time. If you persevere, even on your least inspired days, you’ll still make progress. Besides, being productive on those difficult days will really make you appreciate the good ones.
That perseverance carries over to any difficult task or time of trials. You’ll be able to confront any problem, assured in your ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles. After all, you prove your capability and self-reliance every time you sit down and make progress on that book. And when it’s finished, your manuscript provides physical proof of your ability to persevere.
3. Everyone has a rich interior life
Populating a novel with characters really makes you examine people closely. You find yourself getting in to each of their heads, wondering what they enjoy, what bores them, what they’re afraid of. As your project develops, your characters become more and more like real people, each complicated and interesting. Some of your characters will appear ordinary. Your other characters may be unimpressed by them, judgmental of them, or dismiss them entirely.
You quickly realize that, in this way, art imitates life. We’re surrounded by people everyday—some of them are close friends, while others are complete strangers. But everyone we encounter has a rich, interesting, and thoughtful interiority. They each have desires, dreams, fears. Realizing that people are this complex will often make you think twice before judging them, or it may lend some context to behavior that would otherwise bother you. Ultimately, this way of thinking facilitates healthy interpersonal interaction and rich character growth on the page.
What tips do you have to offer? Please share them in the comments!