I am a bit of an anomaly as I am an extroverted writer. Maybe it’s not as exceptional as I perceive it is, but I always think of writing as a very introspective activity. But while extroversion sometimes makes it difficult to lock myself away and crank out pages the way I sometimes wish I could, I think in other ways it really benefits me. I have a lot of friends who I am immensely grateful to for a multitude of reasons, but one of them is that it makes me a better writer.
Ultimately writing is about people. Even if you’re writing characters who are not human, you need to find a way to humanize them to really be successful (go watch some Pixar if you’re not sure what I mean by this). The challenge is that people are different. Everyone has different world views shaped by their unique set of experiences and challenges. When different types of people interact you get conflict, and that’s where you get a story.
So go meet some people. Meet a diverse group of people. And by “diverse” I don’t just mean checking the boxes of ethnic diversity, gender diversity, religious diversity etc. etc. How are people who played sports different than the people who did theater? How do the challenges of being married with kids different from the challenges of being single?Go meet people of different generations. Go meet people who have made different life choices. Get to know some introverts and some extroverts. Meet some starving artists, some business people, some engineers. Let them tell you about their lives. Let them tell you about their hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Let them tell you how they see the world and how they’d like to shape it into something else.
The more people you meet, the more you learn how different types of experiences shape people. And more importantly, you learn about what’s consistent. You’ll learn how everyone struggles with similar insecurities. You’ll learn about the kinds of dreams and ambitions that nearly everyone has. As touched upon in a previous post, you need to know what those universally relatable truths of human existence are to work them into your writing.
So as important as it is to work on your own writing and revising, as important as it is to read textbooks and amazingly insightful blog posts such as this one, it’s also important to get out in the world and meet people. Ultimately learning about people gives you the kinds of insights that can improve your writing without even realizing that it’s happening.