Write a Story
Write a personal story with me in January. Plus, some reading recommendations.
*Stands on top of desk*
This is something I believe strongly:
Creative expression is a fundamental life force. It allows us to live more intentionally, develop a sense of self beyond our jobs, and fills us with energy.
Having a creative outlet is pretty damn important.
And we know it’s important. That’s why a lot New Year’s resolutions are along the lines of: I want to write more, I want to paint, I want to pick up pottery, I want crochet Camilo a comfy pair of socks because he’s just so great.1
If you are anything like me, these resolutions tend to run head first against a wall of excuses–not enough time, don’t know where to start, I’ll probably suck, etc.
This is how I felt about writing for a long time. The yearning to write was begging to be explored, but I would shove it in the trunk of my car, right under my spare tire.
What eventually got me to write again, and to where I am today, was something I heard author Seth Godin ask on a podcast in late 2019:
“What would you do if you knew you were going to fail?”
Not if you weren’t going to fail–the common phrasing of this question. Rather, if failure was certain.
That’s how I decided to write an ebook early 2020. I realized that no one was going to die reading my book2, it would help me see how much I actually liked writing, and best case I could brag about it on my Bumble bio.3
The key was that I lowered the stakes, and treated my endeavor as an experiment. No more, no less.
So, if anyone reading this has the yearning to write more this year, or is remotely curious about writing at all, I want you to do a creative experiment with me over the next three weeks.
You will write one story from your personal life. Write this story as if you were sending a super long text message to a friend. I encourage you to write your first draft by hand instead of using a word processing app (write on your email client instead if paper and ink is not your thing). This is so that you don’t edit yourself at the beginning.
After you hand write the first draft, you can use Word/Google Docs for
Aim for 400-500 words though this is just a guidance.
You can pick any personal story. If you are really stuck, brainstorm using any of the following prompts:
A time you lost something or someone.
A time something random or incredible happened to you.
A happy memory.
Over the next three weeks you will write a draft, revise it, and polish it. Remember, the stakes are super low; you are not curing cancer, just sharing a story with a friend. And I’ll be here every step of the way providing enough guidance to turn it into a story you can be proud of.
Here’s what I would like you to do in this first week.
Week One - Write your shitty first draft
Write something so bad that it makes your cringiest Facebook posts from your teenage years look like The Great Gatsby.
You may even furrow your brow in disgust with yourself as you write your first draft. Don’t let anything stop you. Is your kid/pet hungry? Let them wail. Late for work? Place won’t burn down. Your patient in the ER dying? Ok, yeah–go take care of them please.
You should definitely feel a little embarrassed. But get the story out, away from your mind.
And once you are done writing it, write the following words: “I just did something really hard. I’m proud of myself. I’ve conquered Resistance today.”
Don’t touch this draft. Don’t look at it. Don’t show it to anyone for at least 24 hours. Bask in the glory of having manifested something into the physical realm.
Next week, I’ll share some guidance as to how you can go about revising your draft, sharing some of the best practices I’ve learned. I will also help you revise your draft (more details on that next week).
What’s the catch?
At this point, you may be asking yourself, why are you doing this? Is this my way of soft launching my ultra-secret-and-incredibly-awesome writing course called Writing Daddy4? Nope. I don’t feel called to do that at this time.
I’m doing this because I think we all need:
1) More creative experiments in our lives
2) The benefits of writing and telling our own stories, will become self-evident once you start.
If at the end of these three weeks you realize that you hate writing, or that writing a story well did nothing for you, then great. You can at least say you tried.
But I’m betting on the best case scenario: By writing a personal story, you will discover the incredible power of storytelling, of crafting our own narrative, of exploring the world through words, of living intensely through paper and pen.
Because that’s what happened to me.
I’ll be doing this challenge alongside you and will share what I come up with on February 2nd.
If you are down for this, then let me know in the comments/respond to this email.
Now onto my reading recommendations this week!
Read This : You may want to get your handkerchief ready for this read.
Rick shares a story from one of his speaking gigs, and meeting a man, the man with the yellow tie, and the powerful lesson he teaches him, and that Rick graciously shares with all of us.
Rick also makes a point about the importance of storytelling which pairs perfectly well with why I am inviting you to write a story this month:
: Freya’s essay captures the follies of modern dating and how you can trace it to a crippling generational fear of experiencing any sort of pain or harm. I experience a lot of the anxieties Freya describes in this essay and it’s a point of constant tension in my life. I find this passage particularly poignant:
Stories are the blueprint of the human spirit—a literal window onto our heart, purpose, and soul. They grant us connection to what matters most, to our humanity, and to our fellow travelers in time and space.
Your story is exactly what somebody out there needs to hear. And the way you find it is to tell the story that you need to hear. When you live and tell the story that you yourself need to hear—others are profoundly nourished.
: The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the most underrated Disney movie. I confirmed this after rewatching it a couple weekends ago.
We blunt romance and passion with this constant calculation of risk, this paranoid scanning for threats, and by holding back to avoid being hurt. We encourage each other to be emotionally absent, unfazed, uncaring. We even call it empowerment! It’s not. It’s neuroticism. I think we are a generation absolutely terrified of getting hurt and doing all we can to avoid it.
I’ve thought about writing why I love this movie so much. Thankfully, Busyminds wrote an awesome piece honing in on a specific musical number featuring the villain of the movie, Judge Frollo. Here is an excerpt:
As I stated earlier, this song lets us see what Judge Frollo is—a man. And so the comments proceeded for decades: Judge Frollo is an interesting character and villain because he is neither a wizard, a warlord, nor a physically grotesque monster. He is interesting because he is a man. He terrifies us, for of all things he could be, he is the one thing we all are: a human being.
Also, this would definitely not be a children’s movie in this day and age. I’m glad it was when I saw it back in 1997.
Before you go…
Don’t forget to comment if you want to partake in the writing experiment.
Share this post with a friend. Go ahead and make their day.
Subscribe if you liked what you read. Or if you also love the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Thank you for reading and until next time!
I’m a size 9, btw.
No deaths reported…so far.
Still workshopping the name as you can see.