The Connection Between Creative Writing and Living a Fulfilled, Meaningful Life

By Sophie Caldecott

Source: Darling Magazine

A magical land at the back of an old wardrobe; a dystopian future where all humans are bred in test tubes and assigned a rigid place in society; an orphaned teenager who is repeatedly saved from death because his parents’ love cast a protective spell over him as a baby.

Sometimes you really do have to stop and marvel at the incredible power of human imagination expressed in fiction.

So, what sets creative writing apart from other forms of creativity — even from other forms of writing, such as non-fiction, memoir and poetry? I believe that it strengthens three muscles each and every one of us needs to live a fulfilled and meaningful life.

You don’t have to be an aspiring novelist to experience the unique power of creative writing, either; just pick up a pen or your laptop and let your imagination take over for an hour or so. Even if you never show anyone what you’ve written, you might discover something new about yourself and the world around you.

The Connection Between Creative Writing and Living a Fulfilled, Meaningful Life

A magical land at the back of an old wardrobe; a dystopian future where all humans are bred in test tubes and assigned a rigid place in society; an orphaned teenager who is repeatedly saved from death because his parents’ love cast a protective spell over him as a baby.

Sometimes you really do have to stop and marvel at the incredible power of human imagination expressed in fiction.

So, what sets creative writing apart from other forms of creativity — even from other forms of writing, such as non-fiction, memoir and poetry? I believe that it strengthens three muscles each and every one of us needs to live a fulfilled and meaningful life.

You don’t have to be an aspiring novelist to experience the unique power of creative writing, either; just pick up a pen or your laptop and let your imagination take over for an hour or so. Even if you never show anyone what you’ve written, you might discover something new about yourself and the world around you.

EMPATHY

Writing in any form is always rooted in our own experience, and requires us to be alive to the world and individuals around us so that we can observe and then record what we see, hear, smell, think and feel.

Creative writing demands that we go even deeper than this, though; if we’re going to build an engaging fictional world and craft compelling stories, we have to populate them with believable, unique characters. Every time we tell a story, we have to step outside of ourselves and engage in different perspectives from our own. We have to imagine what it would be like to be someone else, someone with a different childhood, a different temperament, different strengths, flaws, gifts, passions and biases. We have to use radical empathy to imagine motivations, reactions and fears that aren’t our own.

Writing stories can help us to learn to live peacefully within the tangled question of human difference and uniqueness; to borrow words from the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke, writing encourages you to learn to “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart,” teaching you “to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.”

Every time we tell a story, we have to step outside of ourselves and engage in different perspectives from our own.

IMAGINATION

No matter how much you enjoy writing, or how good you become at it, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s hard work. It takes a huge amount of discipline, and there’s a reason people talk so much about “writer’s block.” When you sit down and try to force yourself to be creative and use your imagination, it can initially feel like you just don’t have what it takes. Nope, no new or interesting ideas in this brain today — sorry!

But, with practice, discipline and the patience to push through the initial self-doubt (and yes, boredom), you’ll learn that imagination is a muscle that can be strengthened with enough practice and awareness.

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