The Gift Writing Gives Us

Photo credit: a.drian on Flickr
“I think that is the gift that both reading and writing can give us; the gift of escaping the prison of ourselves.” –John Green
Although I couldn’t attend BEA (Book Expo America, for those of you wondering what all the talk about BEA is about), I’ve been listening to a lot of the live streamed and recorded events on the Book Expo America website, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the BEA staff that’s made those videos available online because the information they’ve recorded is pure gold (so if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. With italics).

I especially loved listening to the Author Breakfast that featured a panel of Chris Colfer, John Green, Lois Lowry and Kadir Nelson, because between the laughs and heart-wrenching stories, the authors shared some really powerful advice. An example of this is the quote I started this post off with. You see, after Green joked about the progression from his first novel, Looking for Alaska, in which he shared quite a few traits with the main character to his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, in which he didn’t share any traits with his protagonist, he said the quote that I included above, and I thought that he pointed out something really special about writing.

Because yes, we often hear about writing what we know and while I still think it’s useful to do so at times, what Green emphasizes is the unique ability writing gives us—the ability to escape ourselves and step into someone else’s life.

Writing gives us the chance to be and do whatever we want—and there are no limitations.

This is why we need to take chances as writers to explore new worlds and characters and ideas that are entirely different from our own circumstances. This is why Mary Sueism is more than just the sign of an undeveloped writer—it’s the sign of a writer who hasn’t yet discovered the true gift that writing gives us. This is why, as writers, it is our job to set out on uncharted territory and come out with a story that we might not have thought ourselves capable of writing.

Because, as John Green points out, the gift is for more than just writers—it’s a gift that we can share with our readers. A gift that can really make our work special.

So I encourage you to take a risk and step outside the prison of yourself. You might just return with your best writing experience yet.

Now it’s your turn: What other gifts do writing and reading give us? 


Catherine Stine said...

Nice post! I just did a school visit and talked about the ideas that led to my futuristic YA. I saw the kids' eyes light up, when I was telling them they had the power to create entire world's by asking over and over, "What if?"
That's a gift for sure; the gift of stretching the imagination.

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Catherine! I think it's fantastic that you were able to inspire some kids by sharing your writing process. Sounds like a wonderful experience. :)

Author Steven said...

Once again, a great post. :) Yes, writing truly is nearly the greatest thing ever! I don't know what I'd do without it. Unfortunately right now I am going through the phase where I am wondering weather or not my book idea(s) are good enough (I have three good ideas I thought but now I'm starting to doubt them). My only comfort is that I know it will eventually pass... I haven't actually started writing any of them but I've been plotting them out and outlining them for months and years for some of them but I just don't know if they're clicking. But they're all like crutches because of the dozens of ideas I've had they're the best ones so far but I still feel like if I let go of the three of them I will regret THAT because I won't come up with anything better even than my current three WIPS... Anyway, I really love your posts. Keep up the good work! :D

~Author Steven

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Steven! Take some comfort in knowing that most writers at some point or another find themselves doubting their ideas or wondering if they'll ever come up with another decent manuscript again--those are common worries for writers. You certainly aren't alone and I have faith that whatever you decide to do, you'll find that you didn't have anything to worry about. :)

Best of luck with your writing!

AnnGMorrone said...

Leslie Rose said...

Wonderful post. I love to write so I can sing, fly in spaceships, and fall in love a thousand times.

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Leslie! Writing truly allows us to do and experience all sorts of things that would be otherwise impossible. :)

javacia harris bowser said...

Great post! I think even creative non-fiction can give us this gift as we learn about and explore other worlds and different people's lives for our essays, articles, etc.

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Javacia! I think that's a good point--we can learn from just about any type of writing. :)

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