All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Writing Life Into Your Life

Almost all my 50-odd years of life have been pretty boring. There were moments of excitement, horror, joy, humor, and even suspense and intrigue. However, most of the hours of my life would register as "uninteresting" at best. After you write off the truly boring time - the one-third of those hours where I was sleeping, those many hours in school taking notes, countless hours staring at the television, and so forth, the remaining time is still not very exciting. Horsing around with my friends was fun but was any of it worth a story? All that time at work - interesting, but was it enough? On its own, probably not. And this goes for most everyone. Even you.

Now, this seems to run contrary to the fact that plenty of people have written very interesting autobiographies or had their life stories published with a bunch of very gripping, compelling stories making their lives seem epic. So how can this be - if lives are so boring, how do we know if we drew the lucky straw to have a life worth writing about? Well, the answer is very simple, and doesn't even require a major lifestyle change.

What makes our stories very interesting is usually not the story itself, but what the story represents, and how we write that into the narrative. For example, I mentioned that my time in school was largely taking notes, studying, etc. - the usual school stuff. That, in itself, is very common, very boring, and not worth a story without putting a little life into it. I don't have to make things up, no need for lying. I just need to add a little element of conflict and things take off.

Conflict does not mean my story about school has to be about a fight or an argument. All it has to be is describing a situation where what I had and what I wanted were not aligned, and I am stuck in the middle of it. The best example most people can relate to is their teen years. That awkward place where we are growing up but not yet an adult, changing but not understanding, wanting to be more than we are but not ready to take it all on. Let's put a drop of this into the story, and watch it change.

I mentioned the student taking notes in class. Boring! But what if we write about how that note-taking student wants to put all this knowledge to use but can't at the age of 15. Think of the frustration of the high-school student learning all these skills but having nowhere to apply them. They learn about the world but they can't see anything because they're stuck in the south suburbs of Chicago. All the talk about going to college and being a success is blocked by the fact that nobody really escapes the little town that is all they've known. Now the story gets going. Now the story has some life. Every action is seen as either another obstacle in the way of becoming an adult, or another trial on the road to maturity. The life journey is the interesting part, with a focus on how everything relates to that one goal of being something more than they knew possible.

Now, some people lead some genuinely action-packed lives, but I am doubting any of them read this blog. For those who do, your life is well worth writing about, and will draw a lot of readers if you remember to weave in the idea that this was more than just living, this was a struggle to grow, to evolve, to become something more. That's the story everyone wants to read.     

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