How Writing Can Change Your Life – Guest Post by Jared Schmitz
“How has writing challenged you to be a better person? … Is there a specific area it’s directly influenced the way you live and how you relate to God or other people?”
This question is very intriguing to think about, and I was very interested to read the various answers that people gave. It seems that all the writers I know have learned a great deal from their writing. An author’s most extensive school, next to life itself, appears to be his own writing.
My own answer: I’ve learned how to better understand both myself and other people through writing.
This is critical to telling a good story—an author must have a very solid understanding of humans and their nature in order to create memorable and convincing characters. An author’s daily exercise is (or should be) to imagine himself constantly in the shoes of others and to twist his mind around in order to think the way they think. This, combined with constant observation of other humans, is really fantastic for increasing understanding.
But that’s only the answer that was on the top of my head; it’s really fairly difficult to sum up all that writing has taught me. Compared to many of my writing friends, I started late. Although I’ve made up stories for as long as I can remember, I only started writing them down when I was 15, and didn’t write more than forty or fifty pages during the next couple of years, until I was 17 and really started to write in earnest. Yet since then, writing (and the friends I’ve met through it) has had a huge impact on my life.
I still think, after further reflection, that understanding, both of myself and of others, has been the biggest thing that writing has taught me. Yet there are many other things that have come along with it. Writing has taught me to see the world in a way entirely different from the way I saw it before:
Now I can see the threads of stories woven throughout the world, through the past and the present and extending into the future.
I can see that each person is creating his own individual story, telling a tale of love and adventure with every new decision.
I can see, if only in some small part, the way God tells His story of the world, and the infinite subtleties of His planning and foreshadowing. (It is true, this realization is one that’s come more through study than through writing; but without writing, I wouldn’t have thought to find this conclusion in the midst of the things I’ve learned through study).
Writing has also taught me how to communicate my heart and soul, something which I had never really known how to do before. I can still write better than I can speak, but writing has helped me to become a more confident speaker, to be better at finding the right words to say.
This ability to communicate has been vital in helping me to understand and come to grips with my often violent emotions. Through writing, I’ve learned to find more joy and wonder in life, because it’s very hard to lose sight of the world’s beauty when you’re able to write an exciting and poetic description of the most mundane and prosaic thing.
I’ve learned to see the way stories shape humans, and to find the threads of primal truth running through any tale. Through writing and telling stories I’ve learned how to remake myself and my world, insofar as I’m able. I’ve learned to see how the forces of life mold a person and how a person can remold those forces. I’ve learned about truth, love, beauty, the heart, the soul. I have been able to see firsthand a microcosm, though admittedly a very imperfect one, of God in comparison with His creation.
My writing has informed my life as much as my life has informed my writing. The two become ever more entwined, because life is ingredients for writing, and writing is zest for life. I’ve learned a little bit about pretty much everything through writing. It has been, along with the stories and other writings of certain authors, my friends and family, and the events of my life in general, one of the chief tools which God has used to teach me.
I could go on. But that probably covers what’s most important. I think that everyone ought to write. It hardly matters if you can write well or if you’re particularly creative. Write poetry, anyway! Poetry is the song of the soul! Or write a story! Because stories are truth in symbols. At the very least write a journal, or write down your thoughts; it’s an ideal way to reflect and understand.
…well, that is my extremely biased opinion, anyway. Peace!
What has writing taught you?
Jared Schmitz is a poet, a writer and an artist who enjoys fantasy literature, hot tea, and obscure music. He hopes to one day make a living as a writer and editor. He also dreams of becoming an elf, living in Mirkwood, and owning ten cats.
Read more of Jared’s writing on his blog Life, the Universe, and Everything » The original version of this blog post is also posted on Jared’s blog.
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