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Searching for Stories

Apr 6, 2023

What do I have to write a book about? It’s a great question and I can promise you, there are more things than you think. But first – do you want to write a book? If the answer is “I don’t know,” or “no,” then read this in case you know someone who does. You can give them some ideas. Writing isn’t for everyone and that’s ok!

Your own experiences are the first area to search. Did you get through (or are you going through) a very difficult situation? Do you have a practice that you use to deal with anxiety when meeting new people or another situation? Have you made a discovery about something like finding the difference between loneliness and being alone? Think about the things you’ve lived through and search for an epiphany or discovery that changed how you do things for the better.

What about your family history? Was your childhood focused more on managing through trials and tribulations and worrying about mowing the lawn and doing your homework? Were you struggling in school until you found out you had a disorder that blocked some of your learning? How’d you get through it and look – Now you’re writing a book! If you have been through something difficult and found your way clear of it and want to share your techniques with others – that’s a book.

I am in possession of my parents’ love letters when my dad was in the Navy during WW2. That’s a book. I have my Aunt Elsie’s diaries – I haven’t read them yet but I’m sure they’re filled with life on the farm and some great stories – it could be a book, or it might ignite an idea for a novel.

Do you have grandparents or older aunts and uncles? Interview them, get their favorite stories on paper and maybe there’s a book there. How about recipes – or an instruction manual on how to do something?

You can create a family-based book that only appeals to your family and friends. That’s ok – it will bring joy. I’ll be doing one of those for my nieces and nephews.

If you’re thinking about a much wider audience, remember to first know why you will write this book. What’s the point? Who does it serve? I was lucky enough to attend a writers’ conference with a few very well-known authors. The best piece of advice I heard went like this:

Why do you want to write this book? Is it to make money? Is it because you think certain groups of people would like it? Well, just take what you’ve written, save everyone a lot of time and throw it away!  The best answer, the right answer sound something like, “I have to.”

That nearly knocked me out of my seat. But as soon as I heard it understood it. The book that I had started began because I was driven to do it. The next great piece of advice was to not hold back when writing, tell it all. If it’s about your experiences, don’t carefully craft it – tell it all. Again… that hit me hard and it stuck with me all night. The next morning, I wrote a new Chapter 1. You’ll find it in my book C’mon Let’s Play. I’ve received a lot of good feedback on that chapter… it starts the narrative on many, not all, but many of my mistakes.