Finding Your Story

I have said before that the best reason for you to become a writer is because you have a story that demands to be told. But what do you do if that isn’t the case? What if you suffer from the dreaded writer’s block? I have always felt that I had a story that needed to be told. The problem was that I didn’t know what it was. Sometimes I still don’t, but I write anyway.

I only recently started writing seriously. I loved to read, and wanted to write, but I didn’t think I had a decent plot idea. I would read tons of books and love the stories of others, but then I would think that either my idea had already been done, or it wasn’t nearly as good as someone elses. It’s pretty easy to see how this type of thinking makes it impossible to be productive.

When I started writing I still thought that the plot wasn’t very good. But it was a plot, and I had made a commitment for NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words, so I started writing anyway. And as I wrote, I found that the story started to take on a life of its own. Things started happening in the story that I hadn’t thought of before. And I started thinking of other ways that I could have started the story that might have been better. As I look at the completed first draft now, I know that the story is good. It just needs a bit of polish before it can be published.

When I started my second story I was only thinking that I wanted to do a paranormal romance. It took a while before I figured out what the “paranormal” part of the romance was going to be. But once I did it was a bit easier to come up with the rest of the story. The very nature of the character determined most of the story. I even had the ending figured out before I was even halfway through. Now all I have to do is fill in the middle.

I am currently working on a Young Adult novel that I started for the sole purpose of having something to write on Sundays. My only thought was that it should be spiritual. Something that reflected my faith. I have now written over a thousand words of this story, and I still have no idea what it is about. I am constantly asking myself, “What am I doing?”

So how do I answer this question? How can you push past the uncertainty and self-doubt to find your story?

The best advice I have read about writing is that the best way to be a writer is to write. Write something every day, even if you don’t have anything to write about. If nothing else, it is a good way to hone your skills until you do find that story. Sometimes your characters will start to tell you their story on their own.

The other thing to remember is that stories are everywhere. You can find a story watching television, reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, watching your neighbors, parking your car, at work (it doesn’t matter what the job is), literally everywhere. Eavesdropping is fun. A great way to find a story is to listen to only half of a conversation, because then you can make up the other half of the story on your own. When you see someone on the street, you don’t need to know what they are doing or where they are going, you can make it up yourself.

So what am I going to do about my YA novel? I am going to keep writing. I am going to keep thinking about my characters and eventually they will tell me their story. I know it’s a good one, and I can hardly wait to find out what it is.

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1 Comment

Filed under NaNoWriMo, The Writing Experience

One response to “Finding Your Story

  1. I completely agree that sometimes the story finds its own way. And as for ideas, yes, the newspaper is full of stuff. And I’m always listening to conversations…LOL.

    In some of my first books, I wrote about cases in my social work career, and fictionalized them; I embellished and changed things around.

    I took the “creepy client” and created a stalker for one of my social worker characters.

    I took a serial killer on the loose in our city and created a story behind this one.

    Now I’m taking my own obsession with blogging and creating a character whose obsession drives her mad…literally.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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