300 stories later…
I’ve written 300 stories on Medium in the past 7 months. That’s a pretty freaking high number if you ask me. Very rarely there’s a day where I wake up, sit in front of the computer, and no inspiration comes to me for writing a story.
Normally when that happens, I just turn away and don’t write anything in the moment. In fact, it’s one of my tricks from one of my latest stories: don’t force it. I only write when I’m inspired. On average, I’ll write once a day.
Somehow, today is different. There are many things I could write about just from things that happened yesterday: I bought property in Montreal, I’m back in Toronto after 13 months on the road, I had a really nice chat with the founder of the Arena Virtual Coworking, I met a lawyer turned hip hop “star”, I realized I made more money by being sloppier, I learned some new awesome quotes, and more.
But I didn’t want to write about any of this. For 10 minutes, I brainstormed ideas in front of my computer.
When I started writing back in January, my sole purpose was to improve my writing skills, it certainly never was to write 300 stories in a little over half a year. I thought I’d have nothing to say to the world, even though I was living a lifestyle a lot of people are jealous of, I run a video game studio, I started an “innovative” approach to learning new skills, etc.
Today, for story #301, I wanted to write something special. None of the above are out of the ordinary:
- Other people buy property (though probably not as quickly as I do…);
- Other people live a nomadic lifestyle;
- Other people chat with other interesting people;
- Other people meet other people who dramatically change careers;
- Other people are making money by being sloppy; and
- Other people read quotes and learn lessons from them.
None of that stuff was original enough in my mind. I stayed there, staring at my monitor…
A little while back, I wrote a piece about how authenticity makes a story original. Everyone writes about the same shit. I had that sad realization a few months back, which actually made me want to stop writing. Most of the stuff I had written and have written since that realization was not original.
You can easily find the same advice I give reading people like Nicolas Cole, Darius Foroux, Christopher D. Connors, Zdravko Cvijetic, Tim Rettig, Aytekin Tank, Tom Kuegler, Aleesha Lauray, Benjamin P. Hardy, Zat Rana, Tim Denning, Elle Kaplan, Dave Schools, and more.
And it’s not that I copy them. To be honest, I don’t even take the time to read them anymore. But we all read the same books, experiment and come to similar conclusions. And there are others who just read from these guys above and simply rehash their stories with a not-as-good headline.
Every time I find myself writing something that’s not authentic, I don’t publish. I couldn’t find true authenticity from my brainstorm this morning. Staring at my monitor, I still hadn’t written a single word.
My coffee was already empty and had not written a single word.
Then I told myself: “Screw it, why don’t I just write about that!”. Truth is, that’s not original either. Writing on writer’s block is probably even more common than any of the topics I was brainstorming.
Fun fact: I usually don’t brainstorm and just start writing, so that could be why nothing was happening on my page.
But here’s why this story matters: even someone who has written many stories before will not always have something authentic to say. Stories are about experiences you’ve lived. If you haven’t lived something worth writing about, it won’t be authentic. That’s the sad truth.
Another truth is that a lot of times, one doesn’t realize what makes them authentic. People write about productivity tips they read somewhere else, when in reality their most interesting stories are when an event triggered on their way to work, when they do things differently, when they have an handicap, when they have an addiction, etc.
This is where the real value is. This is where people relate to your stories.
F yeah, I’m sure you can relate to that. But I do have a “cheat” for that, which I wrote about here:
Most of the advice in there will showcase your authenticity.
Anyway, I guess my page isn’t blank anymore…
With all that, my point is:
Your experience is what makes a story authentically great.
Something as insignificant as the premise of this story is relatable, authentic, and hopefully inspiring to other writers.
It doesn’t matter how many stories one has written. I wouldn’t be proud of saying I’ve written 300 stories if most of them were not authentic. I could have written 1,000 stories if all I was writing about came from things I read in the past.
So here it is: Story #301. Is it the big story I envisioned? F no. But seriously, who cares. Another truth is that as a writer, you never have a freaking clue as to what stories will do well.
Seriously, no clue at all.
What I think are great stories, I have close to no views. “Shitty” stories I write in 30 minutes sometimes get a great number of views and generate $50+. What I think is my best piece yet got a little number of views, yet took me over a month to put together. Please check it out after:
But that’s usually how it is when you self-publish. For that one though, it didn’t make sense for me to send to a publication. You’ll see why when you open it.
Random fact: this story is my highest “ranked” ever on first try on Grammarly!
A great storyteller can turn a mundane event into a truly authentic piece.Don’t write what you read, write what you experience. Write what’s on your mind, not what you think people will want you to write about.
Next time you find yourself staring in front of a blank page, either follow the tips from the article I shared above, or just write about that noise you just heard outside, about the dropped glass on the floor, about how you chugged your coffee in 2 minutes without realizing, etc. Write about something.Anything. When authentic, publish it.
You can do this!
Thanks for reading, sharing, and following the wonderful writers in this post (and myself)!
First published here: https://writingcooperative.com/15-minutes-later-blank-page-how-overthinking-diminishes-authenticity-in-your-writing-9e332423d923