What’s most important is that these benefits of fiction are “real world” benefits. That means when science snobs who don’t understand the value of the humanities try to bring you down (I mean, who’d think we humans could possibly derive value from something with “humanity” in its name?), you’ll know how to argue for your writing passion on their level.
No, writing a novel isn’t going to cure cancer. It’s not going to solve world hunger (though a story just might inspire someone to be a bit more compassionate and maybe volunteer at or donate to his or her local food pantry.) But creative writing DOES have its place in the “real world.”
Writing a novel does SO MUCH for a person.
1. CREATIVE WRITING DEVELOPS PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS.
And look at that: wow, real life happens to be full of problems (mostly of the minor variety, I’d hope!).
Plotting a cohesive novel is no simple task. You are dealing with situations that, in order to interesting and realistic, have to be full of obstacles and difficulties, not only for your characters but for YOU as the author.
After all, your character are great, but they are only characters. In the end, the writer is the one figuring out how to save the kingdom from a despot, or how to resolve differences between a romantic couple, or how to bring a group of people to a reconciliation.
How is a character going to meet that deadline? Get out of this trap? Find a balance between all the different forces pulling at her in life and clamoring for her attention?
Creative writing forces you think creatively. That’s why it’s called “creative” writing. And that skill most definitely is helpful in the workplace and at home. In all aspects of life, in fact.
Problem solving can require an “out of the box” approach. A unique and strange solution. And novelists are masters of that kind of thinking.
2. CREATIVE WRITING TEACHES YOU THINK CRITICALLY.
Critical thinking is different than problem solving. It means evaluating the solution you’ve come up with for a problem (or evaluating an approach someone else proposes). It’s becoming a lost art, and that terrifies me to no small degree.
It is SO important to be able to dissect what people in authority are telling you. To ask yourself:
- Could these people have an ulterior motive? Are there cues they might?
- Are they flat out lying? Are there different ways to interpret the statistics they’re throwing around?
- Is there a better way to approach this problem than the answer they’re touting?
- Is what they’re calling a problem truly a problem as big as they’re painting it?
The thing about plotting a novel: if you want your novel to make sense, then you need to be applying these questions to your characters constantly.
Characters need to read like real people. Because of that, you need to be evaluating their decisions and their goals in a critical manner at every major story development.
This doesn’t mean your characters can’t make mistakes. But you need to understand that their choice is a mistake, and why that is. You need to think: this action is likely to have these consequences. If he did this instead, those consequences would be avoided. Sure, different consequences might result, but those aren’t quite as bad. Meanwhile, if option C….
Critical thinking. You don’t want to spend so much time on the critical thinking that you never write, but you do need to devote time to it. And when you that, you’ll learn to approach the real world that way. It becomes second nature.
3. CREATIVE WRITING DEVELOPS YOUR LANGUAGE SKILLS.
Grammar. Punctuation. Just as important as mechanics is the ability to express yourself clearly without dragging a point out or talking circles around yourself. These are all skills our culture at large seems to be losing at a worrying rate.
And these skills matter. To present yourself professionally, and to avoid misunderstandings among friends and family, being able to express yourself in a concise but understandable way is critical.
Some level of ambiguity is always part of the language game. Creative writing teaches you to use that ambiguity for clever and thought-provoking effect when you want to, and to avoid the bad kinds of ambiguity: the ambiguity that makes people unclear what point you’re actually making.
4. CREATIVE WRITING TEACHES YOU TO JUGGLE YOUR OBLIGATIONS WELL.
Time-management is the real key to multitasking and managing various obligations successfully, so that everything gets done when it needs to be done.
The thing about writers is that very, very few of us are able to support ourselves financially by writing. We have day jobs. We have family obligations. We might even have an additional interest or hobby or two. So squeezing in an hour or so a day to write isn’t easy. At all.
It takes dedication and perseverance, but most of all, writing daily requires the ability to manage your time well. If you want to write, you learn to make good use of the time you aren’t writing. If you don’t, before you know it writing time has disappeared for a full week. Perhaps longer.
This will happen from time to time to everyone, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer in some way. But when a writer does manage to write regularly, if not daily, you know that person is able to prioritize and manage his or her time well.
That skill has a value far beyond cranking out a novel, no?
So, have you found that you developed these skills by writing fiction? Has writing fiction developed other skills or held addition benefits for you? Please feel free to comment. We always need support as writers, and this is just the kind of topic to give all of us motivation!
If you enjoyed this post, you can sign up to follow my blog by email at the top right of the page. You can also check out these related lists
- How Job Hunting Can Help You Write a Novel
- Managing Each Minute: How to Make the Most of Your Writing Time
- The Positive Side Effects of Writing
- The Negative Side Effects of Writing