Scientifically, all ideas form inside your brain. Your head is the place where dreams become goals and goals become plans. There is no doubt that the capabilities of a writer depend on their ability to both logically and abstractly use their minds to create stories.
But the most important part of storytelling — the emotions both you and your readers associate with it — forms in your heart.
OKAY, yes, I know that emotions are still exclusively a brain thing and your heart is not in control of how you feel. But in the poetic sense of the concept, the stories that stick with you most are the ones that touch your heart.
When a story calls to me — basically begging me to write it, which does happen, and it’s both awesome and terrifying — I can physically feel the pull. It starts in my chest and spreads, all but consuming me until I answer the call and listen to what the idea in question is trying to say to me.
These are the stories you need to tell. The ones that call to you. The ones that consume you.
Yes, you can resist these creative tugs if you want to. But that will slow down or stop your writing, and isn’t that the one thing we’re all trying to avoid?
I think what stops most people who want to tell a story is the fear of how someone else will react to it. We forget that releasing a story “into the world” doesn’t necessarily mean we have to show it to other people. You can set a story “free” and still keep it to yourself.
The mistake so many aspiring writers make is keeping that story inside and never letting it out.
When you do that, you never give it a chance to breathe. Or grow. Or become something real. A story isn’t a story if you keep it locked away somewhere deep inside you. There, it’s just an idea.
But it deserves to be given the chance to live. Doesn’t it?
I don’t know why certain stories seek out certain people and attach to them without permission. I don’t know why there are some stories we feel so strongly about that we can’t NOT start writing them.
But I do know that there are, at some point, stories we’re all called to write. And I think it’s extremely important that we respond to the pull. We worry so much about what other people will think, what it will do to our current WIPs, how it will affect our time and our stress levels and our sanity.
Let’s worry less about all that, and more about making sure these stories are told. Whether we show them to other people or not.
They matter. Just like you.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.