Hello. How are you today? I like your hair. It looks extra nice today.
Hey. Are you okay? Do you need a hug?
A random hello. A compliment. A smile. Genuine questions and concerns.
A moment is brief, but it can create a lasting impression.
Working in a library, I see a lot of different people come and go. People with various problems. Some as small as forgetting an email password and some much larger. But what I hope to convey every day, no matter how tired I am or how I feel concerning my own day, is that I care.
Some days, it’s more difficult than others. When there’s a line of patrons waiting and I have a to-do list longer than my arm, I can get overwhelmed easily. Sometimes I do. I get all hot and start sweating, even though the library is always cool. But usually I take a deep breath, calm my nerves, and press forward to help the patrons in front of me with the biggest smile I can muster.
It’s nothing close to Herculean, but empathy is very important in life and writing because we all need it at some point.
You never know what someone is going through, so you might as well be kind, regardless of your profession or whatever else is on your mind.
Empathy is very important for writers.
We could stuff our noses in books and laptops, and ignore people when they reach out to us or walk by clearly in distress.
Or we could offer a random hello. A smile. Maybe even a hug.
These moments give us glimpses into someone’s world, someone’s mind, even when we don’t solve anything. A moment of kindness and understanding can offer someone a glimmer of hope.
You know those moments in a book when a character has lost all their strength to keep moving. But just at the right moment, they have an experience or memory that helps them keep going.
Create those moments.
Challenge: Put your character in a tough situation. Make them utterly exhausted. Then give them a glimmer of hope. Maybe they remember a pep talk from a mentor or loved one. Or maybe a long-lost friend gives them a hand when they’re on the brink of despair.
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