You’ve probably heard this before, right? Maybe from an English teacher or a counselor or a friend. They are right, you know? We all have minds and imaginations and experiences that we can use to write a story. We tell stories all the time, so why not write them down? We tell our friends about the nice (or nasty) person at the store who stole your parking place or crashed into your cart or took the last bag of chocolate chips. That’s a story.
Often I hear, “But I’m not sure where to start.” That’s the cool thing about writing, you can start anywhere. The beginning. The middle. The end. It doesn’t matter, really. Just start. You can put the pieces together later.
Everyone has a different “process” and no one way is the only way to go. Some writers are more comfortable on a computer, some with a pen and paper. There have been times I’ve even used a recorder and transcribed the content later. Whatever method you use is fine. The key is to try different ones until you find the right one for you.
We all have unique lives, but share many common types of experiences. When you write them down and then share them you find just how many people “understand” or “relate” to your story. Everyone knows someone who has fallen in love, lost a person close to them, experienced illness and despair. Writing about it is cathartic, it really can be!!
I’m not saying you have to pour your sadness on the page, but you can use those emotions to write a rich story that other people can feel in their own way. And I promise you, they will.
This year I met a lovely young woman who had been through a lot of physical trials and illness. Most days she’s a bright shining light in the room, but she has her troubled times, too. We all do. She loves to read and write, but like all of us has a bit of trouble getting started. So I bought her a brand new pink notebook and pen. When she wants it bad enough, she’ll do it and I know we will all be richer for her sharing.
You see, storytelling is not only communication but giving. We have to open up ourselves to let the words come out. We have to tell the inner critic to shut up until it’s time to edit. And don’t be fooled, we all edit, lots and lots. It’s how we mine the jewels from the garbage. That’s a quote from my first writing mentor and I’ve never forgotten them. (Thank you, Emily Hanlon.)
Share your stories, my friends. Share your ideas, your dreams, and your sadness. Share with the human community the conditions that are uniquely human and you’ll see how good it feels to give.