If you seek to be understood, first seek to understand. Stephen Covey
Writers love to write, or at least I hope they do, otherwise it might be a waste of time. I love to write and was doing so from personal perspective and for my pleasure. But only to write for self enjoyment and through the blinders of my beliefs became an even bigger waste of time. I believed the story would sell itself based on the passion and love put into it.
My thinking is shifting and while writing this way can be fun and help connect with a few people, ultimately it is not my souls’ goal.
A story read by a handful of people and totally ignored by the majority is a result of writing from narrow perspective. The reason it is largely ignored is simple; there is no connection with the greater population whose perspectives differ from our own. Or more harshly stated, they simply do not care about the story because it has no connection to their own understanding or life.
The purpose of a great fictional tale is to create a story that connects with many readers. Those readers are people. Individuals with ideas and beliefs not always the same as our own. If the goal is to be read by and connect with many an ability to create characters with diverse perspectives real. When that aim is accomplished the writer has done their job effectively.
If enough honest effort, a sort of paying the price, has gone into the writing and the story is well marketed many more will read, connect with and hopefully enjoy it.
However, enjoyment is not the goal either. If the tale is disliked that’s OK because the key here is connection.
This week I read a book on how to achieve deeper connections with others. I learned that stepping outside of my little sense of reality and truly listening minus my personal biased and judgements is a powerful way to understand beliefs that are foreign to me. When I successfully understand where another is coming from the knowledge base in the brain expands.
In checking the personal perspective at the door before stepping into new worlds we take on an empathic ability to listen. Living one’s life from a place of empathy is a great way to co exists with people. We learn to see the world through their eyes and our understanding of reality in all its shapes and colors grows.
I started reading this self help material to improve interpersonal relationships. The writer in me soon discovered it is not limited to improving interactions. I wondered how the understanding of others can improve the writing.
Learning about the beliefs and perspectives of others can be used to develop characters in a big way. It supplies access to broader perspective and all the differing ideas swirling around in this great big world. The beliefs of others can help us achieve a depth of writing that is unavailable in our small narrow world view.
The characters become more realistic as these new perspectives are integrated into their development. As opposed to cardboard cut outs of what we believe to be true of others. The more personal perspective is checked at the door before entering the home of another, or in this case the story of a character, the easier it is to write about their lives honestly.
When interactions involve openly listening without judgement to a person, a new ability to practice compassion is developed. We treat people with respect and empathy. This compassionate action spills over onto the page creating rich characters in story.
We stop judging and censoring the characters in much the same way we are learning to stop doing it with real people. No longer satisfied with creating cookie cutter persona’s that exist only in our small personal beliefs, the characters begin to run freely through our mind. Stepping out and behaving in ways that are authentic to the to that characters paradigm. We may not always agree with a characters action but we will accept it and write it with as much understanding on his/her perspective as we have learned from our real time interactions with people.
The simplest truth here is this: when we are open to others in real life by silencing our perspective for a time. We gain a level of empathy and compassion. Stories are then written minus the judgmental censorship that is a result of a narrow view point. Perspective has broadened to include multiple ideas, beliefs and struggles. We choose to write as well as live in the spirit of empathy. Life and the stories we write now take on the multiple realities we live within each moment.