How Empathy Can Help Improve Your Writing

By on March 6, 2019
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One thing that is so important for every writer to be able to do, is to engage their reader. To engage a reader, you must enable them to relate to your story and to care about the characters and what happens to them as the story unfolds. If your readers don’t connect with your characters and aren’t fully immersed in the plot, then it is going to be impossible for them to really enjoy your writing.

So how can writers do this? One of the most helpful ways is to be empathetic. Using empathy as a tool in your writing can make it so much more powerful and emotional and can help to draw your readers in.

As Albert Einstein said:

“Empathy is patiently and sincerely seeing the world through the other person’s eyes. It is not learned in school; it is cultivated over a lifetime.”

Writers must try to see the world through other people’s eyes, and they must be able to put themselves in other people's shoes, to be able to imagine different perspectives. The ability to do this means we can use our empathy to create many different, believable, engaging characters in our stories that our readers can relate to.

Empathy is all about giving us a better understanding of the human race, of people from different walks of life and their perceptions and outlook. It’s not the same as being sympathetic or feeling sorry for someone. It’s about truly trying to imagine what they must be thinking and feeling, and if we can do this successfully and capture their thoughts and feelings in our writing we can become better at creating realistic, three-dimensional characters that contrast as well as complement one another.

If we can only see the world the way we see it, when we come to try and write our characters, we run the risk of them all sounding the same, all merging into one. Having empathy enables us to create a variety of interesting, exciting characters in our stories which our readers will not only enjoy reading about but be able to empathize with too.

So how can writers practice empathy? It’s simple really. We can do it whenever we have an encounter with someone, whenever we read a human interest story, watch the news or overhear a conversation. If we stop and really try to imagine life from their perspective, and relate to the way that they are feeling in a deep and real way, then we can start to access and process these emotions, perceptions, and viewpoints that we otherwise might not have been able to. This will no doubt help improve our writing the more we try to do it and creating rich stories with characters that provoke interest and empathy is how our stories will reach more people and become successful.

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