Writing Secrets: Do you have a story to tell?

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

When I was a very young student, a lecturer of mine – something of a Svengali, if I think about him now – asked me why I wanted to write.

I burbled something about my passion for expressing something which might draw readers in and allow them to experience another life, and another time.

“Wrong answer,” he said. “I’m not sure you’ll ever make a writer. I was hoping you’d say, ‘I have a story to tell.’”

At the time I was devastated and deeply intimidated. I wasn’t all that sure I had one great story within me. And why should I have? I was only nineteen. What had I even experienced?

The fact is, there are endless stories out there. Surely a true writer doesn’t simply have “a story to tell”? Why be so lacking in ambition? A writer has any number of stories, and more will occur all the time.

If you observe life, and people around you, stories will present themselves. These stories will change and grow as society alters and you develop as a person.

A true writer doesn’t want to lambast you with some story they think they’ve always known. A writer is an explorer, a seeker. I don’t believe we writers have any special privileges or answers about life.

We’re in the business of describing, rather than prescribing. As I get older, there’s less and less I know for sure. We hope that, if we rummage around in people’s lives, if we show the way we live and think, perhaps our readers may be able to draw some truth from it all for themselves.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: Should you plan your story – or wing it?

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