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