It’s Wednesday, so I thought I’d talk about writing today, just because there’s some alliteration there. I thought today I’d talk about something one of my professors said last week during finals, because it really resonated with me, and that was that there’s three traits all good writers need to have: compassion, a sense of humor, and humility. I’ve thought about this a fair bit over the course of the last week, and I’m thoroughly in agreement with her, so I wanted to share that with everyone today.
Compassion: This trait is hugely important for all writers, no matter what genre or style you write. If you’re a fictional writer, compassion is necessary to create compelling characters. You can’t properly characterize anyone or really develop someone’s personality or show change over the course of a story if you can’t empathize with them and think about how they would feel in a given situation. This is partly why reading is something that’s so useful for writers: reading can help you become more compassionate and relate to characters who are not like you even more, which in turn helps your writing.
Likewise, compassion is important if you’re writing non-fiction or more journalistic pieces. You may have to talk to a source or an expert about something difficult they went through or experienced, and you need to be compassionate in listening to their story and understanding it properly.
Sense of Humor: At first I was a little surprised when my professor recommended this as an important trait for all writers, because certainly we’re all not funny people, and not all of our writing is humorous, but upon further reflection, it actually makes sense. Sure, I’m no comedian, but having a sense of humor can help you through the writing process. You are bound to goof up sometimes: you’re going to have a funny typo or a weird passage or you’ll go back reading through a draft and just sit there confused, wishing you could make a sound that’s the equivalent of “?????????”. It helps if you can laugh at those mistakes and not take yourself too seriously. After all, that’s why revisions exist.
Additionally, even if you’re not trying to write a funny piece, it can be helpful to insert a little humor into a story. People can’t handle serious stuff all the time or else it gets to be too much: that’s why comic relief exists. Additionally, inserting your own sense of humor into your writing can help give it voice, too. It’s a matter of getting in touch with the things that make you laugh and finding a way to tastefully incorporate that into your writing.
Humility: The last trait I think is one of the most important ones, not necessarily in terms of helping you write good work, but in terms of acting like any good writer would. You need to be humble when discussing your writing, in looking at your writing, and in evaluating yourself. Most of us are never going to be the greatest writing on the planet; that’s just a fact of life. And while it’s good to be proud of your work, there’s no use acting like you are the greatest writer on the planet. It not only makes you come across as a jerk to other people, but it also does you no good when it comes to editing your work or thinking about improvement. If you can’t be humble and admit your shortcomings, you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time revising your work, and it will probably end up making your writing even worse than if you thought about what you struggle with and worked to improve on it.
Humility also goes along with the first two traits that writers need. If you’re full of yourself and acting like it, it’s very hard to be compassionate towards other people, and it’s also hard to laugh at yourself when you fail. Humility is a great quality to possess when you’re trying to work with other people on writing, or just improve on your own.
Anyway, that’s all for today! I’m thinking Writing Wednesday might become a regular feature on this blog, so look out for more posts like this on Wednesdays!