Why writing makes you a better person

When I first started writing I thought it was somewhat selfish to pull myself back and sit in a corner and dive into another world, as dreamers do. But I kept finding myself in characters I had met in my own life or come across in some form or another before. Characters that were too familiar to not not be real. All of a sudden I was right in the middle of their world exploring their story and understanding their motivation for what I had previously judged.

In writing we often refer to the Hero’s Journey and how it tells the story of the human heart changing. I have always thought this true for my characters, or when it comes to acting but is it already true in the writing process, including the author?

When I read a good novel or a good short story I am engulfed in the story and view the world through new eyes. Whether it’s through the eyes of a young girl in a concentration camp, a secret agent in the cold war, a Grinch who hates Christmas or a puppet who´s dream it is to become real.

All these stories have shifted my perspective and given me insight on how people and characters feel in different situations, most of which I will never experience myself. I start to understand why people do what they do and why the Grinch hated Christmas and decided to indulge in loneliness.

So when I pick up my pen (or lay my fingers on the keys of my Hewlett-Packard laptop) I don’t think I am being selfish at all. Rather I am lifting my eyes from the life I am living, that more often than not revolves around me and am pointing to someone else. A story that will take me on a journey and teach me the same lessons my characters are being taught.

I remember one of our first assignments on my film school was to write an observation paper on someone, who didn’t know we were going to base our fictional story off of them. watching them. For whatever reason I thought it would be fun to write one about a baby. And then I thought it would be interesting to write from the perspective of the baby. And then for the oddest reason of them all, I decided to make a short film from the point of view of a baby!!!

That way I got to explore and play with the thought of how attentive children are (or might be) and how they listen without judging and rather see everyone and everything as an opportunity to have fun and play and use to get what they want. It was interesting to see how two people can say the same thing but both of them mean completely different things, for legitimate reasons.

I thought this would be fun to further explore only this time not from the perspective of a human but rather a letter, being sent across the globe undergoing a hard and rough journey encountering many others of its sort, each with their individual imprint. This may not seem like a life changing event or a memorable story but it did give me a deeper appreciation for the words I put on my letter, as I sealed and sent it off to my loved ones, back home, across the globe.

Here it is:

An anomaly

I was a blank piece of paper before I was written on. White, beautiful and innocent. The ink that was pressed against me molded me into something. Something I can’t quite express. It gave me words that I did not have before. Words I haven’t heard before. Words that gave me meaning.

Even though I liked being untouched, the ink gave me purpose and vision. As the fountain pen brushed my surface I was taken into another world. A world so distant to mine and so full of colour and emotion. This time it was about the strong feeling for another and the unbearable thought of staying separated much longer. The urge to be with the other half and to feel them close, crashed over me like a wave hits the beach. I needed to go. To go and bring this message but I could not. I had to patiently wait for everything to fall into place so that I could be put in an envelope and await my arrival. The thought of how I would be received and the expectation I could read from the eyes this letter was meant to be. I could not wait.

But it was a long journey before everything was ready for me to travel the globe. All the tenderness I was feeling and the love I needed went under when I was tossed and turned and fell into dirty hands who dealt with me with such ignorance. This honourable duty was not being recognized and I found myself among many others who felt like I did. But we did not have words of our own to express. Instead we wore the masks that we were given by the ink impressed. Some more beautiful than others. I saw fear, anger and hatred. But I also saw innocent love, passion and compassion. We were all on a journey together yet to different destinations, wondering how we would be received. And yet deep down we knew.

It was my sole duty and destiny to bring one world to another and be part of the receiving. I knew I would be kept and well looked after.

I mean, I am an anomaly.

Even though I´m giving advice on writing, I still have a lot to learn myself. But I hope my impressions on my journey so far, have helped and encouraged you to find perspective in storytelling and inspiration to explore all sides of a story.

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