In Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, he writes, “Write what you like, then imbues it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work. People love to read about work. God knows why, but they do.” He continues, “What you need to remember is that there’s a difference between lecturing about what you know and using it to enrich the story. The latter is good. The former is not.”
Two things struck me here, first is the importance telling good stories, which I often forget. We know story telling is one of humanities great successes, we’ve used stories since the dawn of our existance. From those told around campfires to those we worry about in todays news, words that form stories are the best way we know how, to teach and guide others, to entertain and captavate an audience. When we sit down to write, it’s well worth remembering that people connect best with stories. And the story is the best way to package, deliver and pass on valuable knowledge about the world we live in. We can use our stories to guide others on a path less traveled.
The second thing is the importance of wrapping the stories we tell with life and personal experience. I write about my work, it’s what I enjoy and perhaps the only thing I’m qualified to write about, but am I lecturing about what I know, or imbuesing it with life? I’m sure, at times, I’m guilty of not sharing enough of the story behind the work I do, perhaps what’s needed is a little more reflection.
Kings words are helpful in other respects too. At times I feel hard pushed to write. “I’m not a writer”, I say to myself, “I’m a designer…why am I writing?” What I forget is that none of us are writers, not really. Writing just happens to be the medium we use to share the things we love doing. So whatever our aim may be, it’s important to remember the reason we write. And that’s to share our experiences and make sense of the world around us. It’s to tell great stories about the things we enjoy most and and to share them with others, because if we don’t they’ll be lost forever.
For me, it’s never been about the writing and I’m sure it’s not for you either. It’s always been about design and sharing my experiences of designing. So when I’m stuck in a rut, and fed up with writing, I must remind myself the reason why I sat down to write in the first place. My mission, if you will.
I’ll leave it there, with one more quote from King to ponder, “Write about anything you damn well want. Anything at all… as long as you tell the truth.”
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
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