“Have you noticed he each one of us is responding to suggestions with ‘I could do that,’ or ‘maybe I could’? Nothing is going to happen as long as we say ‘maybe’ and ‘could.’ I’ve lived long enough to know no that nothing happens until I say, ‘I will do that.’ ”I was as surprised at my words as anyone in the group, but I recognized them as absolute Inner Truth, a genuine epiphany. The dream ended before they had a chance to respond. I have a lot of dreams, but I seldom remember details. Now and then one speaks to me, and this one spoke to me. I took it as a message that I’m ready to turn “could” into “will” often in the coming year. Attitude is everything.
Beyond any personal meaning in this dream, it applies to readers who think about writing, whether anything from a single vignette story of a couple of pages to a voluminous saga covering the full extent of your years. Perhaps your family or friends keep telling you, “You should write all that stuff down!” Perhaps you’ve just been meaning to and going to get around to it. If you are still thinking about it, thinking, “Yes, I could do that ...” this is the time to turn your “could” into “will”. As the New Year rolls in and you think of New Year's Resolutions, make one about writing, and make it “I will!”
Aside from battles with your Inner Censor, the biggest obstacle to implementing that “I will!” decision is not knowing where to start. As I explain in The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, it doesn’t matter where you start. Just pick up a pen and start writing about any memory at all, and things will fall in place.
For those who tremble at setting out on such an impetuous path and feel the need for more organization, I have three suggestions. One is to create a timeline of your life. I’ve written about this before in The Value of a Personal Timeline, and What Should I Write About?. What better time to start your timeline? If you never write story number one, that timeline will probe to be quite valuable.
The second suggestion is to do some free writing to make a list of story ideas. Take a piece of paper and set a time for fifteen minutes. Jot down every memory that comes to mind. Don’t dwell on them. Just write a few words to anchor it so you can bring it back quickly later, and move on. See how many you can capture before the timer bell rings. You’ll find more specific information about this topic in my post, Story Idea List.
The third is to turn to the list of Memory Triggers in Appendix 2 of The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing. (Or find a list somewhere else.)
Whatever you do, may this be the year that you put “will” in place of “could” and all your dreams of writing come true. All your other dreams too, for that matter.
Happy New Year!
Write now: start a timeline of your life, if you haven't already done so. Update it if you have.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal