I am a charcter in my own life story

Crossposted from SilkAndShadows.com
Currently working on: 100 things at once
Mood: Scattered

When writers learn about creating characters, one of the first techniques we’re taught is to assign each character a story goal, something the character desperately wants and must pursue through the course of the story. Since many of us use the start of the new year to assign ourselves some resolutions, I think we can all relate.

Next, writers are told to figure out why the character wants to reach the story goal. What is the character’s motivation?


This is where I, as the (ostensibly) lead character in my own life, get a little murky.

Why do I write?

If I do one thing this year, I want to figure out the answer to that question. See, this year is a turning point (my fellow writers will recognize that term too, and probably wince) in my writing life, and it’s time I clarified my motivation.

Why is motivation important to characters? In a story, strong motivation keeps the poor, beleaguered character on task no matter what rocks we mean writers throw at them. Wimpy motivation lets the character off the hook and he slinks home to his easy chair, never to adventure again. Booooring!

In real life… Well, in real life, I secretly do want the easy chair with a fuzzy blanket and fuzzier socks, BUT I know that strong motivation is really what will keep me reaching for my goals.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”
– Zig Ziglar

More than a year ago, I attended a writing workshop where the speaker asked us to determine our own personal reason for writing. Other than fame and fortune. (Cue laugh track.) Everyone diligently bent their heads to their papers and scratched away. I cheated off the writer next to me.

Because I’m not sure of my motivation. I asked other writers afterward what they wrote. They had great answers:

  • I write for free therapy.
  • I write because I have to write.
  • I write so I don’t have to get a job where I wear pants.
  • I write to get the strange voices out of my head. (See reason #1.)
  • I write because I love to write.

Great as these answers are, they don’t really resonate with me. (Although I’d like to not need a job where I have to wear pants.) So I never answered the question for myself, never found the motivation that rings me like a bell. But this year, I think I’m going to be forced to figure it out.

I hope it’s a good answer.

So do you have parts of your life you don’t look at too closely? Are you happier that way, or do you want to explore those hidden depths? How many people do you think get eaten by the dragons in their hidden depths?

5 thoughts on “I am a charcter in my own life story

  1. I write because it’s the only way to organize what I want to say.

    I write story because it’s the only way to make sense out of my life. What’s the point of conflict in life if it is not research for story?

  2. When I chose to write for publication, little did I know that a wonderful, if scary, gift of my writer’s life would be a deepening understanding of myself and of other people. What I’ve learned about myself is not all pretty, but that’s okay. I tamed my dragons a long time ago. Not that they’re always on their best behavior, but they don’t petrify me any more. They challenge more than threaten. (It helps that they’ve gone vegan.)
    For me, writing has never been about fame and fortune (thank God!). It’s been about overcoming my fear and using my gifts to be a positive force in the world. I want my readers to feel uplifted and hopeful when they return to their lives and theur problems at the end of one of my stories. I want to help them tame theri dragons.


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