Start Writing a Story That Wakes You Up

I’ve believed for a long time that stories choose their tellers.

Everyone has something they love to do so much that they wake up every morning like it’s a holiday — because they’re so excited to get out of bed and do more of that thing they love. You just have to find your thing.

The second I heard some version of this mantra, my life changed forever.

In all honestly, the biggest downside to writing professionally is that you often have to write, edit, and complete other tasks you’re not overly enthusiastic about. People talk about writing like it’s this glorious stress-free career, and perhaps for some people and at some points it might seem that way. But the reality is that you don’t get to spend every single moment of every day doing what you love most.

So when people actually started paying me to write things for them, I had this brief existential crisis. Up until that point I had always dreamed of publishing a novel, of writing fiction for a living and never having to write a 20-page listicle ever again. And yet there I was, writing every day because it was my job — but not the kind of writing I’d always thought I would be doing.

I became extremely discouraged the more I thought about how my dreams weren’t coming true, at least not as quickly or in the exact fashion I’d hoped they would.

Then someone told me to find my “thing.” Or in this case, my story. The one that woke me up.

I’ve believed for a long time that stories choose their tellers. When a story finds you, when it senses that you are the person meant to write it, it calls to you. It weaves its way into your mind, it entangles your thoughts. It doesn’t let you forget it. It begs you to nurture it until you do.

That’s how you know it’s a story made for you. It belongs to you. You are responsible, now, for its well-being.

But it’s not enough or a story to just show up and for you to agree to raise it. For a match to truly be made, there must be something within that story that ignites your passion for words, for imagery, for constructing a narrative that might change someone’s life for the better someday.

If you want writing to remind you of your purpose, then you must find a story that will captivate you so intensely you’ll barely be able to sleep, or think, or breathe. Every moment you aren’t spending with that story will produce an incurable ache inside you. And when you do return to it, all that longing, all that anticipation will dissolve, and it will just be you and that story, capable of conquering the world.

There will absolutely be moments along the way where you quite seriously consider quitting. You and your story won’t get along. You’ll disagree. It will burrow itself deep into somewhere you can’t reach it, and you won’t hear from it for a stretch of time so unbearable you’ll start to wonder if you’ll ever work on it again.

But it will always reappear. You will always find a way to earn back its trust. It will always find a way to remind you that it came to you first. It doesn’t want you to give up. But even more than that: It wants you to be excited. To fall in love, and to let that love spill out into everything you do, everywhere you go.

Let your story wake you up and remind you why you write.

You write because you have stories to tell. They need you just as much as you need them.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.


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2 thoughts on “Start Writing a Story That Wakes You Up

  1. I so agree with you, Meg. Life is short and I think we should focus on things that light our inner fire. It’s only then that we are the best versions of ourselves.

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