Welcome to this new series!
It’s been a minute since I’ve done a series. I guess technically the last one I did was my NaNoWriMo one, but writing-wise, my last one was on flashbacks. And that was only 2 posts long. So, we’re due for another writing series of epic lengths. And, believe me, this series is probably the longest one I’ve ever done. It’s going to take me months to get through everything, especially seeing as I post bi-weekly.
And this topic is one that’s very interesting and that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while.
The idea that every writer is different.
Whenever I thought about doing a series on this, it was a little overwhelming to think about trying to cover all the different ways. But what I’ve done now instead is write a series on accessing your own unique abilities as a writer. You are different, and there are a couple of things to do with the writer themselves that can change a book.
So welcome, and I hope you join me for the ride. Today I’m starting by tackling a very important subject – one that can seriously change your whole book.
Have you ever stumbled upon a part of a book, blog post, podcast, or video where the person who created it is talking about your Why? And… had absolutely no idea what they were talking about? 😅
Or, have you ever heard about it and understood what it was, but been unsure as to how to even go about finding your Why?
Join the club. 😆
However, over time, I’ve found a couple of sure-fire ways to help you find that.
So today, I’ll be explaining what your Why is, why you need it
(see what I did there?) (okay I’ll be quiet now), and how to find it.
What Your Why Is
The first thing we should probably establish is what the heck this thing even is.
Your Why is usually more of an idea than anything. Abstract. And I cannot define it for you.
I’m really good at this, I know.
However, I can tell you that it essentially is a message. If you’ve taken literally any English class ever, you’ll know teachers like to talk about something called a theme. Your Why is a little bit like that, but I find it less of a thought and more of a lesson. Not to mention, it’s less of a thought on humanity, and more of something you want to teach a person so as to help them.
Your Why is a lesson you yourself have learned on your own journey through life. If you had the chance to tell everybody in the world just one thing, a chance to teach someone one thing to improve their life… what would you tell them?
Something probably just popped into your head.
That is your Why.
And this thing, your Why, is the reason why you’re writing your story at all.
Look. You can write a story without one. Lots of stories do nowadays, and these types of stories are referred to as escapism. They’re books about characters, and some of them are even really good. But at the end of the day, they’re going to fade from your mind. They’ll merge with the 203 other books you’ve read that didn’t leave you, as a person, any different than you were before.
When you have a Why in your book, I’m not joking when I say that it instantly takes you to the next level. It just adds this layer to your book that cannot be emulated in any other way. It gives it a special something that so many books today are missing.
There are no original ideas. Everything has been written before. But there are things in the world that are meant to be said, and they are meant to be said by you. Your story is your platform for this, your stage where you do get to scream that one thing to the whole world that you want to tell everyone.
Story… it’s a medium. Not a message. Music is also a medium. Dance is. All art is. People share thoughts and feelings with the world through these mediums. It’s your message that sets you, as a creative, apart from everyone else.
Books can literally change lives. Your Why could change someone’s life. I mean, think about it. Books are powerful – powerful enough that people have literally burned them in the past. They’re powerful because they contain thoughts and ideas that can change. the. world. They’re powerful because they can change someone’s world, change their perspective and worldview. And that’s pretty incredible.
Why You Need It
Your Why is something that is important to you, personally. And let’s be 100% honest: that’s way more powerful than just a story idea that you want to write.
But besides that, can it help you in any other way?
Imagine this: you have something you need to share with the world. Your story is your stage to do this. You know that it literally has to the potential to change someone’s life.
And you hit a hiccup in the writing process.
You have a choice: push on? Or give up?
Well, let me tell you right now, you will find a way. You yourself have a more powerful reason that’s motivating you to stick with this story through thick and thin.
If you want to have that feeling, the one where you have a powerful motivation to put in the work that you feel your story deserves, to push through the hard days, to overcome any obstacles that come your way… you need a Why in your story. It’s called a Why in the first place because it’s why you’ll keep writing a story. It’s why your story matters.
And, once again, let me reiterate: your story is absolutely meaningless without one. It will fade from people’s memories as just another story. Your Why adds meaning. It sets your story apart from all others.
How to Find It
Probably the trickiest part of being a writer who wants to put a message in every story is the question of… how do I keep coming up with new meaningful truths to share with people in each story? Ones that I myself believe wholeheartedly and would tell everyone in the world if I were given the chance?
I can’t exactly coach you through coming up with those. It’s supposed to be personal to you. But, I can leave you with a few tips to help find them in your own life and keep track of them.
- Take note of them as you think of them. This is the best way I have found to do it. Whenever you can look back and see something you have learned, something you had to fight for and hit rock bottom to find out… write that down. That’s something you know in the depths of your soul and can tell others about in a way where you connect emotionally to it.
- Keep a journal. Seriously, this helps you to figure things out in your life, and you can watch your own thought process as you work things out when you read back over entries. Not to mention, you can become more introspective when you actually try to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and put them into words. This can help you recognize things you have learned – things that would make good Why’s.
- Take note of what hits you hard. Save any quotes or social media posts or emails or whatever that are hard-hitting and punch you in the gut. You relate to those things on a different level entirely. Take note of them. Remember them. Keep them. For some reason, those things resonate with you; that means they could resonate with someone else as well.
And really, there’s one last thing: if you want to find more Why’s, you have to live. That’s the only way you discover the things that you wish you could tell the world, that you understand in the very depths of your soul. Things that you fought tooth and nail to understand yourself.
Now, could you pick any message and write about that?
Yeah, you could do that. However. I will warn you that they actually won’t have the same power to them. Maybe it’s just me, but unless I actually can relate emotionally myself to the subject I’m writing on, I can’t inject the same amount of powerful emotions into my story. But, that said, if you think a message is important, write about it anyway.
If you want to see a deep message like this in action and how it truly does set a story apart… take a look at some of these:
- Pixar’s Cars
- Marvel’s Thor
- Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
- Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward
- Nadine Brandes’ Fawkes
Your Why is pretty much the heart and soul of your story. It’s what powers your character’s character arc, and by showing the character learning and changing because of your Why in that arc, your readers will learn it alongside them over the course of the story. It’s really just super cool, and it puts you and your own unique spin on your story, setting you apart from all the other books that are simply hanging around for escapism. Once you do that, your book will naturally find itself drawn to the spotlight.
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Have you ever heard of your Why?
Do you also like to write character arcs?
And are you excited for this series?!