Welcome to post number six in this series! I doubt that any more posts will be nearly as long as the last two, so don’t worry 😆 Today’s is exponentially shorter – but that doesn’t make it any less important! 😉
Every writer is different.
It’s a line that’s been in the title of every post in this series so far. We’ve talked about really accessing your unique thoughts and feelings and putting yourself and your joy first as a writer; we’ve also talked about finding your unique style and process, because how we work differs from writer to writer.
However, while these posts are about accessing your abilities as your amazing and unique self, I have yet to address the actual concept that every writer is different in detail.
Hence today’s post!
Today is going to be a little less tip-filled, but is still just as important. I mentioned the concept slightly in the last post: that as you grow and change, your writing will as well. If you want to be able to consistently keep up your amazing writing abilities, this is definitely some good information to know.
If you have ever taken any English class in school, then you’ve probably heard of different kinds of characters: static, dynamic, stock… like, that’s some Junior High level stuff right there.
You catch on pretty fast that dynamic characters, characters who learn, change, and grow over the course of their story, are much more interesting to read about. Or at least give you more to work with when you have to write an essay about them.
Static characters are uninteresting and totally disengaging. They have no internal conflict, no desires, and just kind of vaguely float along through a story.
If you have studied character arcs, then you’ll probably recognize these types of characters. In the writing world, however, when we talk about characters arcs, we tend to refer to them with different definitions:
The main arc that authors tend to use is the positive change arc. In it, characters learn and grow from the events of the story in a positive way, and come out the other side a better person. Positive arcs can really show a reader your Why, because the character has to learn it to overcome the conflict of the story and prevail. The reader learns it alongside the character, which makes it very powerful.
Another one is the negative arc, where characters are shown exactly what they need to know to become better – and reject it, taking a darker path instead. This one can actually also hold a lot of power, because it shows readers exactly what not believing the Why (or the story’s ‘Truth’) can lead to.
And flat character arcs are ones where no change happens. (However, in their defence, I will say that you can really spice things up by adding in some juicy internal conflict to their character.) Flat characters who are the protagonist usually already hold an idea that is positive, and must fight to keep it. (If they’re just a side character, though, they’re either boring, or else serve to help the protagonist on their journey. And sometimes still manage to be boring. 🤣)
So, all three types of character arcs are used in story all the time. Readers and viewers love to see change. They love to see characters actually grow, because that’s what happens in real life.
And… that’s the thing.
Those things happen in real life. People are confronted with obstacles and hurdles, and they react the way they do because of how they have been shaped thus far in life. The choices you make now will affect your future choices; how you decide to react to something can define you as a person in your mind. Overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles changes you on a fundamental level.
At some point in your life, you may have felt like you were the character riding the rollercoaster of a story. I don’t really know where you’ve ended, but I can say with confidence that events in your life have changed you and shaped you as a person. Each one set you up for how you would react to the next in some way as well. The way you decide you will react to a new obstacle will continue to change you as a person.
See, as human beings, we are dynamic and ever changing, evolving.
What a lot of writers and creatives don’t realize is that life, the world, actually affects our writing.
It’s not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you sit down to create something. A lot of time, fiction is simply made as a form of escapism: no message within it, no theme, but a pretty well-crafted world for a reader to slip into so they don’t have to think of reality for a little while. So, it’s not surprising that writers aren’t exactly interested in taking reality along for the ride when they want to write something.
But, like it or not, the world does affect our writing, simply for the fact that it affects us.
As much as writers like to joke around about being how totally weird we are – and I won’t lie, writing has given us some odd quirks 😆 – we are still human beings.
Simply by existing, we affect the world – and it affects us. It’s unavoidable. Things happen. Stuff gets crazy. Trouble crops up. Sometimes crazy amazing things happen as well.
These experiences that we have shape who we are, what we become. Things that we go after as people will change us, as well. For instance, someone who works on developing and bettering themselves as a person will react to the same situation differently from someone who does not, because what they’re going after has changed them and taught them things. (Especially if it’s about bettering yourself)
How the World Affects Your Writing
Everyone goes through different experiences in life. The way you view them can change how you get through them, and those experiences can change you as a person.
What you go through allows you to grow. But as you grow, so does your writing.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention, then you’ll remember me talking about putting pieces of yourself in your writing – like the way I insert things like my dry sass and love of coffee into my books. It’s great.
But where did I get those things? Those things that make me unique as a person and give me a unique voice and style?
Well, that would be from my life, wouldn’t it? The books I read and the banter I had with my sisters developed my sarcasm, yet the way I was raised created the the fact that I’m too polite and don’t say it to anyone outside of my family. Instead, it stays in my head, and I let it all loose on the page. As for my love of coffee, the fact that I grew up seeing my parents drink it and then began to drink it myself determined that factor.
However, imagine that I’d never read the books I had. What if instead I’d devoted myself entirely to Shakespeare’s plays or something? I wouldn’t have exactly what I do. Or what if I wasn’t close with my sisters and didn’t have to bantering talks? Or wasn’t taught to respect my elders and let it all no matter where I was or who I was talking to? That might change how I talk, and how much I have inside of my head that I want to put on paper.
As well, if my parents didn’t drink coffee at all and there were no coffee beans in the house at all, I probably wouldn’t be all that interested in drinking coffee. Heck, I might even be a tea person. No offence to tea lovers, but I actually hate tea. 😂
To take it a step further, if I’d been exposed to things like sass and coffee but in a different way, then the way that I view them and use them might be different as well. My enjoyment of them and the way I control myself about them might be different as well. I might have to think about not doing things with them more – or less.
Lots of people love coffee; but the fact that I love it because of the experiences that I went through gives it a uniquely me tint to it. No one else has exactly the same experiences with it. Even my sisters don’t; we may have been present at the same event, but we were different ages. Therefore, some of us had better capacity to remember these things or think through the situation. That would have affected how we viewed it – not to mention how it fit in with what we already knew about the world around us based on how much we’d seen and experienced already.
One experience doesn’t always make a person who they are. It’s a culmination of them. That’s why there are so many perspectives on the world around us. Everyone has different ideas of what it should look like because of things they have gone through.
And when it comes to our writing, it changes based on our experiences.
That means that the world around us has a large affect on our writing, even if we don’t want it to.
A Literal Example
If this is a bit vague and concept-ey for you, then think of it this way: imagine that something happened that totally rocked your world. For the sake of this example let’s say, oh, I don’t know… a worldwide pandemic broke out and everyone had to quarantine.
Gee, wonder where that example came from. 🤔
Your writing process might have changed significantly because of always being at home. I know that quite a few creatives flourished during that time, creating nonstop because of how much time they suddenly had to do so. But others felt blocked and less creative because they were always at home. (Same source, same effect, different result.)
The world affected you and how you wrote during that time.
I think it’s safe to say that, once we’re on the other side, that period of your life will continue to affect your writing in different ways. The things you had to overcome at that point changed you as a person. That in turn could change your writing.
There are seasons of life. For instance, a season for me was writing the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel. I was getting up in the morning an hour earlier than usual to write it – and ate a lot of overnight oats. 😆 It only lasted a couple of months, and that’s okay. Some seasons are short, and some are long. There’s no exact way to define where they start and end, but if you think back, I’m sure you’ll be able to spot some different seasons from your life.
At different seasons in life, you sometimes feel the need to write different things. What matters to you now and is important to you now may not be so in a few months. It may be something you need to learn yourself, or just get out of your head.
With each season, you emerge from your trials, defeats, and victories as a changed person. That’s why I think it’s important to know how to find things, like your style and process, because they will change, and you’ll need to find them again. They’ll change because you will change.
Writing is an interesting thing, because for those of us who are serious about it, it doesn’t last for just one season. For instance, I’m not big on crocheting now, but I used to be. That was a season of my life. Something that stretches out through season after season after season without letting up is something extremely interesting and special.
Something like writing.
The books you write will change your writing abilities, causing new doors where you can write more difficult things to be opened to you. I mean, just look at my posts now versus when I began writing this blog! They’re way different. I was writing about how to start your story, and one of my suggestions was with onomatopoeia, okay? Now, I’ve in the middle of a deep, soul-searching series of posts. 😆 I’ve grown in my abilities, and as I grow, I find new questions: How do I find my process? How do I pull off a successful flashback? How do I stretch a story out over an entire trilogy? How do you create suspense? How can you keep readers interested? How the heck do I pull this idea off?
Questions like these used to intimidate me. I mean, you can usually find some pretty general information about writing easily enough online. There are some subjects that pretty much every writing blogger or YouTuber has covered at some point.
But these extremely niche questions I was asking weren’t exactly easy to figure out; there’s an art to them that a Google search doesn’t seem to reveal. I had to find them on my own. I was asking these questions because they were things I needed to know at that point in my own journey, influenced by the world around me and what I was trying to write.
I used to not like those sort of questions. The idea of not knowing wasn’t one I was particularly fond of. 😆 But now, I see those things like a challenge. I’ve been writing for over 5 1/2 years by this point, and I have a lot of experience to back me up, as well as the knowledge that I can figure out things on my own. Now, I like challenges like that. I also like being able to blog about how I figured out to do these things – things that no one else seems to talk about. Questions that I seem to be the only person to have because of what I’ve gone through and where I am in my writing.
How interesting is that.
Another Literal Example
I find all this interesting, because concepts that are vague and hard to figure out seem to be something I specialize in. *looks pointedly at an idea I’ve been trying to work on*
To simplify this, here’s something you probably already know that you can relate this concept to: seniors are respected because of how long they’ve lived and how wise they are. They are considered wise because of all the experiences they’ve had, because of what they’ve lived through. You might ask them for their thoughts on something. On the other hand, you wouldn’t ask a toddler for their thoughts on a serious topic. They don’t know much about it – because they don’t have experience with it. They haven’t lived long enough to have many, if any at all, and most certainly not enough to form their thoughts and opinions on it. (Or even the ability to convey those to others 😆)
There’s a widely accepted idea that the older you get, the smarter and wiser you become. The more you live through, the more you can learn from them and grow as a person.
And that happens to you as well.
You’re always going to grow and change as a person. When that happens, your writing will probably change along with it, because those experiences and how you react to them shape who you are – and therefore, what you like to write, who you like to write about, when you like to write (in your life and in your book’s time period), where you like to write (in your life and your character’s), and the reason why you do so (for you and for your characters) – as well as how you go about it (both in real life and your character’s). What you put into your story is affected by the world around you, and in turn, your story changes you, and you change the world around you – which then changes you again, and it just keeps going.
I planned the order of these blog posts in this series beforehand. In all the series I’ve done, I haven’t really done this. But this time, each post has built upon the last, ultimately leading to a culmination of all of them.
So, I wanted to take a few moments to show you how this concept applies to every single post that has been posted so far in this series.
Finding Your Why
In this post, I talked about how story is your stage to tell the world a message. If you had the chance to sit down someone and tell them just one thing that could change their life, you’d probably have some advice to give. And the thing is, you have way that you can give that advice. You can even give it in a way that connects to people emotionally, because people connect emotionally to characters.
I’m saying that you can teach people it through a story, in case you haven’t caught on. When a character learns something, a message, over the course of a story, and has to fight to learn it, and a reader is emotionally invested and sitting on the edge of their seat to see whether the character will overcome… and then sees the character does overcome, but only because they learnt that thing… that’s super powerful. And that thing is your Why.
Now, think back a second to when I was just saying that you had the chance to tell someone one thing. Something likely popped into your head.
Where did you learn that from?
- someone taught you it, and you believe it with your heart and soul, or
- you see it’s something the world needs to learn, or
- you had to overcome obstacles and survive darkness to come out the other side with this new knowledge – and wish you could teach everyone it so they wouldn’t have to go through the same pain you had to to discover it.
- Or, you know, from almost anywhere. Why’s are really powerful convictions and lessons learnt, essentially.
That Why that you insert into your writing can take it to a whole new level. And you only could learn that through living.
Why You Need to Focus on Joy in Your Writing
In this post, I talked about how focusing on joy changes how you write. It changes how you feel about your writing, and even helps you want to write more.
Toward the end, I actually addressed how the world affects your writing when it comes to focusing on joy: when you have a bad writing day, that can put you in a bad mood that continues to affect all other aspects of your life. If you had a good writing day, you might be in a good mood, which – spoiler alert – also affects other aspects of your life. Total shocker, I know.
Now, flip this around. I didn’t talk about it so much in the post, but if you’re having a good or a bad day in general, that can affect how your writing goes. It’s this closed loop where each thing affects the other.
Why You Need to Follow Your Heart as a Writer
This is an easy one: where do you think the stuff in your heart comes from in the first place??
Different things become important to you depending on what you’ve lived through. Much like with your Why, what’s in your heart – which is influenced by the world – can influence what and how you write: genre, characters, plot, when you write best… so many things are influenced by who you are. And, of course, as I’ve already stated a million times in this post, that is influenced by the world around you.
7 Actionable Tips on Finding Your Unique Writing Style
Literally the first tip I have is to read widely, okay? And then I tell you to copy. (Just don’t plagiarize 😅) I don’t know how much more obvious I can make it that this concept was included in that post.
I also talk about inserting pieces of yourself into your writing, which was – say it with me, guys – influenced by the world around you. (Actually, that time, it autocorrected me to influenza. 😂) When I talk about doing that, I mean both literally and emotionally. And then the next tip is literally to write what you want; need I go on?
How to Find Your Unique Writing Process
I don’t even have to scroll through this post to make sure I’m attributing the right thing to the right post for this one: for 99% of this post, I’m telling you to analyze old manuscripts that you wrote to see what works best for you and where you want to go now based on them.
Where were you in life when you wrote those old manuscripts? And, looking over each manuscript, how did you change by writing them? From manuscript to manuscript? How did your writing change as you did?
Literally, these are examples you can look at that I don’t even have to create so you can see that, as you grow and change, your writing does as well. Not to mention, as you grow as a writer, your abilities will change as well, which changes how you write.
You go through things in life that affect your writing, and in turn, that is affected by your writing. You are changed by experiences, and those experiences include the experience of writing what you are writing. I want to establish this, because some writers think that something is wrong when they’ve found something that works – and then stops working for them.
There’s nothing wrong. Not with you, or your writing.
You’ve just grown. Grown beyond that.
And that’s such a cool thing, that it’s worth having to search again, because that means that there’s now a better way for you in particular to write. For you to tackle new things. A way that matches up with your current – and even better – abilities.
Don’t be afraid of growth.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
The next post is one that I’ve thought about quite a bit in my own writing; I think it’s something all writers must know, so if you don’t want to miss that, make sure to subscribe! That link is different from subscribing via WordPress – which is awesome to do as well, but this way, you get exclusive insider content! 😉 I hope to see you on the inside!
Have you ever thought about this?
Do you write character arcs in your stories?
You have no idea how hard it was to format my ideas for this. 😆 I hope they came across okay!