Stories matter

November is National Novel Writing Month and one of my favorite slogans from the event is “Stories Matter”.

Stories

What I love most is that there is no qualifier. There is no mention of genre, authorship, quality, distribution etc. It’s the story that matters.

Today is the middle of the month and if you’re doing NaNo you should have about 25,000 words written. If you’ve struggled to get this far (or even if you’ve struggled to be behind) and you’re wondering if all the work is worth it, it is.

Stories matter because that’s how we learn. We can’t have every experience ourselves, so stories help us recognize and start to understand what others have experienced. We can’t meet everyone on Earth. Stories let us inform, inspire, anger and influence people we may never know.

Even if your story never leaves your hard drive or the cloud it matters. It matters because you wanted to write a story that was important to you, and you did it. You’ve learned something about yourself, you can do anything you want. In November it was writing a novel, in December it might be losing weight or learning to play piano. Who knows what January holds, but that story certainly mattered.

If you’d rather read someone else’s take on why stories matter check out Why Do Stories Matter  by Nate King on the American Writers Museum blog. For more of my thoughts on the topic, keep going.

Stories matter because they spur conversation. How many times have you been involved in a conversation that started with “Hey, did you see that story about…”?  Or “Oh my gosh, I heard this story about… and thought of you.” They help us process information and relate it to our own lives.

Stories matter because they make us take a beat and think. When we stop and think about things for even a brief second, we grow. That means that even bad stories matter. Understanding why you thought it was bad requires you to relate it to your web of knowledge and experience.

As a story consumer I love stories that make me see someone else’s perspective. It doesn’t mean I suddenly agree with that perspective or support it but it gives me a chance to understand some of the why behind an action.

As a writer/story teller I get the chance to think about characters and how they can be possible. What type of background could cause my bad guy to be so evil? Is that even plausible in our world? This thinking about what influences other people hasn’t stopped me from being surprised but it does help me to listen and start down the path of understanding.

We are surrounded by stories. Some are true, some are fictitious and others blur the line. We need them all. The writers need them, readers need them, we all need them. Don’t stop writing, share your story.

Why do stories matter to you?

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Plan, schedule, write – What I really won from NaNoWriMo 2015

NaNoWriMo Winner!

It’s December 1 and NaNoWriMo is officially over. I’m a winner this year (yeah me!) and unlike the last time I won, the book I wrote isn’t the prize.

In November I wrote 75,268 words. That averages out to 2508 words per day. There was only one day that I wrote 0 words and that was the day after I finished. Not only that I had a day where I was able to write 6250 words, a personal best for me.

The book that will come out of NaNoWriMo 2015 is called Harbinger Hawk and it is the third book in my new Dylan Cold series. I think it is the best book I have ever written and I believe that people will really enjoy reading it. The other thing that came out of November is a writing habit that I love and that I expect to last for a long time.

My previous books were written out furiously at all times of the day. I would write 200 words any time I had the chance and sit in front of the screen for hours waiting for words to come out. When I was done with a book I would be exhausted and completely confused about how to start the next one. There was no process and no habit just a frantic race to get the words out of my head.

With all the things I had going on  in November I realised I had to plan out my story and my work. I started to schedule writing time, usually between 8:30 and 11:00 in the morning and work only on writing new content during that time. When I’m going to write I sit in the same chair, light the same candle and listen to classical music.

NaNoWriMo helped me develop a better writing habit. I’m excited about the book I produced but I’m more excited about the books to come.

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