Friday Fun — What did you learn from your writing?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Did you learn anything from your writing projects and what was it? 

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Well, I learn all the time from my writing. When I interview people I learn about their wishes, dreams, and work. For someone who loves to learn new things, being a journalist is a great job. Also, when I write my articles, I am made aware of what filters I put on my writing. A journalist must be unbiased and sometimes I have a tough time doing that. (We’re coming up on the Presidential Primary season in NH, I’ll be doing a lot of tongue biting.)

With regard to my work-in-progress, as mine is a memoir, each time I sit down to write I recognize the power of my life’s experiences on my life values. When I write, I can literally see where I put my priorities and emphasis and very often, it surprises me.

Oh and another thing I’ve learned about my writing? I suck at using commas – just never really got that one down.

M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

Deborah Lee Luskin: I learn from my writing every day. Writing teaches me to listen and to observe. It encourages my curiosity. And most of all, writing enlarges my capacity for compassion, and increases my tolerance for ambiguity. These last two are essential life skills.






Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: For years I wrote memoir. Then I took a creative writing class and I wrote a piece of fiction–a short story. I worked on it for months and wrote many drafts. When I finished it and stepped back from it, then read it again, I felt very exposed. Even though it was fiction, I had written the truth as I saw it in that time and place. Though my main character was fictional, she had so much of me in her, I didn’t want anyone else to read her story. It set me back for quite a while. I had thought writing fiction would give me the chance to “hide” behind my characters, but I saw that I revealed more than I ever did in my memoir writing. It took me a long time to get comfortable with being vulnerable on the page, especially in my fiction.


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Whether I am journaling privately, blogging publicly, publishing columns, sharing fiction in writing class, or ghostwriting for business clients, I’m always learning something. There is a quote that says, “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” This makes a lot of sense to me, although I think there are some gray areas and overlap. In my experience, I learn my reading and by doing. But, when it comes to discovery (uncovering feelings, connections, beliefs, the “why” or “how” of something, etc.) and internalization (making what I’ve learned a permanent fixture in my brain), writing is how I disassemble a thing and then put it back together so I can understand it more thoroughly and deeply. Writing about something helps me get at the inner workings and the unseen aspects a thing, and these are often more important than what’s easily observable. Writing is how I process my whole life – experiences, relationships, feelings. It teaches me about myself and the world around me. Each and every day.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I learn on two levels. First, writing a mystery series, I learn about things I need to know. About clock making. About legal procedures. About how to kill people. About historical landmarking. This type of learning is wonderful, on ongoing. It is remarkable how much people are willing to tell you for the sake of your book. Second, I learn about myself as a person. Some scenes are harder than others to write, and I need to understand that. Some characters are like me, but braver. Others have a life that I didn’t, and I can explore the path not taken. Writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, is a very humbling process. You are bound to learn a lot about yourself.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: I’m always learning from my writing. Journaling gives me raw insight into experiences and I sometimes take that ‘real’ emotion and use it in writing fiction. The more I journal, the more aware I am of my writing, and I know it has an influence on all of my writing.

I learn a lot by writing professionally, especially when submitting to a publisher or editor. Their feedback is priceless. And when working with a client, I learn how each client likes to have things worded — it can’t be my voice in a client’s document, so I learn through speaking with them and writing for them how they turn a phrase, and sometimes I (know) I adapt it to my own writing. When something sounds perfect I like to adopt it.

I’m always always learning from my own writing and from reading others — just from reading the replies to this post I’ve intuited new things.

28 thoughts on “Friday Fun — What did you learn from your writing?

  1. I came to understand a lot about myself from writing my own thoughts and experiences. I learn to give them a place so I would not have to carry them with me all the time. Being part of writing classes taught me to write fiction, produce articles by command and improve my writing skills as well as interacting with others which is very difficult for me being an introvert.

    • Hi impossiblebebong,
      Isn’t the writing process amazing? We learn so much from it. Inspiring comments! Thanks.


    • Hi philosophermouseofthehedge,
      Learning to laugh at ourselves is a sign of maturity, in my opinion!

      Happy writing!


  2. While writing on my first book I already knew that the writing process itself was the most important tool to work on myself, work things out and find the greatest insights ever. Writing is healing!

  3. I learned that I need to improve upon understanding the context of what I am writing. Too often it’s been taken the wrong way and the ultimate responsibility for that is with me. So, in short doing a better job of choosing my words more carefully.

    • Hi Steven,
      I think it’s good to work on being clear in your writing, but I believe ultimately, people are responsible for how they interpret your words. it reminds me of a story I read a long time ago. Someone put a letter on six random windshields in a parking lot. Each letter said, “I love you.” Each person who received the letter had a different reaction. One person thought it was a sarcastic note from someone who hated them!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  4. I am still learning every time I write. Especially about process! Life is made up of processes and once I got that it was like a formula. I learned to be patient and abiding! Great interview! Thank you!!

  5. I cannot tell you how THRILLED I am to have stumbled onto this blogsite. You each write so richly and explore such interesting questions. I always feel like I’ve landed on a fluffy bed with the softest quilt and a bunch of good reads to feed my soul.

    I agree with the many kinds of learning you all mentioned – especially increasing my empathy for diversity and my tolerance for ambiguity. But I must admit I haven’t learned how to murder.

    • Hi Sammy D,
      I think it’s totally cool you haven’t learned how to murder. Me, either! I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


  6. What I learn depends what I’m writing. Recently I’ve been reading over some old journal entries from the last year and they’ve put a lot of what I believe and what I value and want from life in perspective. When I write articles from my blog I get to see and hear different opinions and perspectives on the topics I write about. It opens up my own views on things. My fantasy and personal stories I write teach me to see that the world is a beautiful and complicated place. We are not as limited or as alone as we think. Writing is such a give and take of learning and teaching.

  7. Writing has taught me to slow down and really look at life. One can find and learn so much from the little things in life. The old saying goes “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have learned to seek the silver lining and focus on it.
    Life is so much better when you seek the positive in everything!

    • Hi C J Alan,
      I agree! Up with positivity! It’s just as valid a life view as negativity.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


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