I've probably done a post on this before. But I think I can't say it enough, writing is hard. It's not the hardest thing I've ever done. A few other examples come to my mind for that category: serving a foreign mission for my church for 18 months, rehabbing a house, raising three kids would top my list. But nevertheless, writing is hard. Sometimes I don't want to do it. Sometimes I doubt myself, my characters, my plot. I feel trite, cliche', hackneyed, shallow. I feel like a fraud. So why do I write when I could be scouring pinterest for the latest and greatest craft for my house? Why do I write instead of getting a night shift job that I would actually get paid to do? Because writing benefits me in so many ways.
I learn patience. I am so impatient. Ask my husband. I can't keep a secret, I snoop in Christmas presents, I want it and I want it yesterday. Writing a novel takes a great deal of time, effort, energy to see the finished product. It stretches me to my limits of my patience with myself and the story.
I learn to appreciate detail. I am a big picture person. I get bogged down in the details. I give up easily (see patience above) if there are too many little things that have to be done. Writing is all about detail. There's big picture stuff there, too. I mean plot is pretty big picture. But I have to make the scenes come alive with detail. It's not that I don't observe detail, I do. But to be able to replicate, explain detail to where the reader can see, feel and smell the scene takes great talent. I'm working on that.
I learn about myself. Sometimes when I'm dealing with something upsetting, I don't even realize until it comes out in my writing. This is my therapy. I can write it out on a page, often in tears, and deal with it. When I am angry about something someone said, I can retaliate in my writing. Heartache becomes gold. My best scene in my current WIP is a scene where her boyfriend breaks up with her. Every heartache I've ever felt went into that scene. It's burns off the page. I can explore topics I can't talk about even with trusted friends, I can face fears I've never told anyone about, I can right wrongs. It's healing. It's cathartic. It's like blood letting, but it makes for good fiction.
I learn about other people. When I spend an afternoon or so in someone else's head, I learn to understand their motivations, their fears, their pain, their insecurities. Writing gives me understanding of human nature, compassion. It is as close to walking in someone else's shoes as I can get.
I play. I'll admit it. I write unrealistic realistic fiction. What happens to my characters wouldn't happen in real life. But wouldn't it be cool if it did? I like to go to exotic places, or even places I've been but miss. I can reminisce, relive, make alive, recreate, examine, explore places I can't in real life in the safety of my laptop.
If I happen to sell some stories, that's even better! But I love my characters, my stories, my experiences with my stories. I cherish the inspiration I receive, the laughs and the tears I've had. Reading is powerful. Writing is creation.