Do you have a story tapping you on the 'creative shoulder' and asking you to be the one to 'tell' it?
Have characters walked into your imagination, taken a seat on the couch and started talking to you as if you're their creative therapist?!
Or ... maybe your story has been brewing in the depths of your imagination for some time and you're ready to take the plunge and write.
If you've been contemplating writing a story, no matter whether it is a brand new idea or one you've lived with for years, no matter if you're a seasoned fiction writer or new to this writing gig, then I encourage you to take a moment to think about why you want to write the story and what it means to you?
But, why ask yourself these questions? Why not just start writing? Who cares why you want to write the story?
Well, even though you may crave to write entertaining and engaging stories that capture your readers imagination and keeps them turning the pages, writers often have a deeper, more personal reason for wanting to tell the story in the first place. And, it's a good idea to explore your why so you know why you'll keep writing even when no-one is asking you to do the work of writing your novel.
It will help you to keep writing even when no-one cares that you're writing.
Writing a novel is a long-term creative project and it can be hard to keep going, especially if your support network doesn’t understand how a writer gets into the flow, or the story hits the saggy middle and you’ve lost the structure of the plot.
Knowing your deep and personal reason for showing up and doing the work will help you to keep writing through the layered iterations and feedback that is part of the cycle of writing a story.
Having said that, knowing why you want to write a story isn't strictly necessary to write a novel of course. As a fiction coach I ask my writing clients to think deeply about why they MUST write this particular story so they know their deep and personal reason for showing up to do the writing work.
Knowing your 'why' helps you to:
- stay motivated, empowered and keeps self-doubt at bay
- figure out the point of your story so that every scene in the story speaks to the narrative theme
- refreshes your creative belief in yourself to bring your story into the world
Writing a novel is a layered process, and at times, it can be tough staying with the story that first inspired us to write, so reviewing your 'why' will help you to return to the kernel of inspiration that helped you take the leap of faith to write your story in the first place.
Here’s three writing exercises to help you figure out your why. Consider the following:
- What does writing this specific story mean to you?
Take out your journal, write down this question and answer it with as much honesty as you can. You don’t need to show it to anyone else. It’s your driving force.
As you write, get deep and go beyond surface desires such as wanting to make money from it or build a career. Wiggle your way in, and get to the heart of what writing this story means to you.
- What do you really want to say to the reader?
Is there a situation or a message, or a point you'd love to convey to the reader? Go straight there and write a sentence or two about that, and then write WHY this message means so much to you. Think about what it means to you. Get specific. Think about how this message could be implied through the characters and situations in your story. Jot a few ideas down.
- What does it mean to you to nurture this specific story and bring it into the world? Take a moment to imagine your story complete. You're holding it in your hands. Turn it over. Marvel at what you've creatively brought into the world.
Now write a paragraph about what it meant to you to go through all the ups and downs of writing this story. Write about why you persevered through all the feedback and editorial corrections to bring it to your readers. Celebrate the story you’re writing and imagine the goal you want to achieve.
Now, read your answers to these questions. Reflect on them.
- What have you discovered about why this story is important to you?
- What’s driving you to write and keep writing?
- Have you discovered a deeper message you're inspired to weave into your story now? If so, what insights have you gained?
This is creative gold.
This is your 'why'!
Keep coming back to it whenever you need to.
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you've found it helpful. Keep writing your stories and strengthening your fiction writing craft, and happy writing!