“I learned that the best work is the kind that costs you something.” ~Jeff Goins
The greatest cost is how we live out our personal growth on paper, through a character or story. We wrestle with life questions, morality, faith, injustice, and love with only words. He (or she) who comes away with the most scars wins! Fiction has to dig for the truth. You don’t have to write a gritty crime novel, or a thriller, to scare your pants off. How vulnerable are you being? How much of you is in that work? What were you wrestling with when you wrote it? Where did the story take you that you didn’t want to go?
Non-fiction is no different. I’ve worked for a number of different non-profits as a freelance writer. The best thing about working for non-profits is they always have really impactful, compelling, heartbreaking stories. Whether I’m writing an e newsletter featuring work they’re doing in the Horn of Africa (that research is going to haunt me – forever), or I’m editing true-life stories from a former drug addict or a celebrity — it costs me something.
Every story I tell (fiction or non-fiction) has to capture my heart. I have to get to a point where I can’t not tell that story. Really? Really. How else can I capture the emotion, the drama, the joy of the story if I’m not invested, if I haven’t partially lived it already?
Storytelling is important. It’s stressful. It forces me to step outside myself and see the world through someone else’s eyes. Writers are culture creators. We do more than observe culture, we don’t just nudge it with a timid toe — we walk right up to the sleeping bear and give a good kick in the ribs.
That’s our job!
Doesn’t matter if you’re writing to inspire, to entertain, or inform, everything you write should cost you something. Every piece you put out there carries a piece of your heart. Period. It’s the only way to do it, and really get good at your craft. Don’t settle for the easy to tell story — what’s got your gut twisted in knots? Find out why! Then tell people what you’ve learned. Tweet This.
Sometimes that means you wait until you’re on the other side of that dry emotional desert so you can write with the wisdom of hindsight, but when in the midst of whatever you’re wrestling with capture those thoughts and emotions — for future reference. So you can ‘go there’ again when you need to, for the sake of your readers.