Harry and Dumbledore taught us that love conquers all. Margaret helped us understand the freakiness of new teenagerdom. Charlotte and Wilbur made us into animal lovers, and Matilda gave us the confidence to stand up to nonsensical adults.
Every time we pick up a book, there's a chance a character inside will instill us with a different view of the world. Those rad characters make us grow, and they help mold us into the wacky people we're destined to become. Which is, y'know, pure awesome.
Alternatively, as writers, we make our own characters. (Wh00t!) They experience journeys concocted in our brains, live in worlds we think up ourselves, and go through hardships born from the things we've gone through ourselves.
So theoretically, with characters 100% of our creation, everything's pretty insulated, right? You can't really learn from your own characters the way you learn from others. Everything they learn is something you already knew. You can't exactly grow with them, because hey, you grew them.
But maybe that isn't so true. Our own characters are great because they're fun, almost with minds of their own, and their stories eat up our lives in the best way. In the end, though, what if the best part of writing our own characters is... learning from them?
When we write, we use the material we've collected throughout our lives, whether that means translating real-life events into fiction, spicing them up with a helping of imagination, or simply using them as building blocks. That material is synthesized, messed with, and turned into a work of literature.
In that process, I think we uncover new things. In writing our characters' stories, developing them and leading them, we realize things with them. They teach us new lessons and new ways of looking at life.
When a character falls, we fall too - and when we write about them getting up, we learn something new about getting up. We grow with them. Like plants! (Except less leafy.)
Just another reason why writing is practically a self-improvement exercise as well as a study of others. It's excellent! What have your characters taught you? And how have you grown with your characters?