When I was in undergrad, I was told that most graduate programs only accepted seasoned writers. They only wanted people 25 and older that had significant experience to back up their writing. My initial response was, “Oh hells no. Ageism will only divide us!” I was prepared to fight for my right to write. But I just let the topic go. I applied to some psychology programs and got over it.
Years after graduating and doing nothing with my life, I reflected on this concept. Does experience really make you a better writer? Hells yeah.
It’s not just about how long you’ve been writing, it’s about the things you’ve done in life. It’s highly unlikely that someone only 21 years old can understand what it’s like to have to convince their employer to let them keep their job. It’s very unlikely that someone 22 can capture every aspect of love, especially long-term commitment with a spouse.
As a writer, life is your experience. The more you travel, love, hate, taste, touch, see, grab, fondle, puke, drink, or fight, the more you prefect your craft. The reason some characters lack complexity or seem one dimensional is because their writers are boring. I’m sorry to attack any of my fellow authors, but if you can’t create a fully developed character, you aren’t living.
I’m currently going through some hard times myself. We just got home to find out that we owe our apartment complex $300 more dollars than we presently have. If you’re good at math, you know that it’s only the 7th and I don’t get paid again until the 15th. Well, what to do?
Stressing could be an answer. We could run around like chickens with our heads cut off, or we could relax and find a reasonable solution. In the past, I probably would have lost my mind, but the more I live, the more I see that it just isn’t worth it.
Not only can I write these traits into a character, but I can also write the opposite. I can make someone who is impatient and nervous. Someone who is anxious and afraid of not being able to gather the money. How? I’ve been in that position too. I still feel that nervousness inside, but I’m letting it ride.
In order to make your characters better, you’ll need to write about your own life experiences. Make them personal and detailed. Add in every pestering thought or shortness of breath. You are your biggest experimentation. Record your results and create amazing fiction.