Finding Your Story and Writing it … for Self Discovery

 Photo by Ellen Blum Barish

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.  

Maya Angelou

There’s a story you want to write. It hovers. Pokes at you. Maybe even stalks you. You’ve thought about it – in fact you have taken a seat, a pen and pad in hand, but you just didn’t know how where to start and you hoped the feeling would pass.

But it hasn’t. You’ve shared parts of the story with friends and they have urged you to write it down. It felt really good to tell it. You think it would feel as good — perhaps even better — to get it into words. Words that you could return to and read aloud, to feel it again and share with others. A bird, compelled to sing her song.

Anais Nin wrote that we write to taste life twice. Writing offers second chances, writes Jonathan Safran Foer, and allows us to reframe our life, to take it in and give it back differently,  “so that everything is used and nothing is lost,” write Nicole Krauss.

There are so many reasons to write your story but, sadly, there are more reasons not to.

And most of the time, we chose not to because it’s so big … so time-consuming …  so complicated … so scary… so personal … so private …. so hard.

I know all this because I have felt all of these feelings as I considered, struggled or walked away from writing personal narrative. But allow me to share three secrets about writing personal stories.

1)   Finding and writing the personal story is better (not easier, just more pleasant) with someone – a knowing, trusted someone – rooting you on.

2)   Having captured your story (or “having written,” as Dorothy Parker wrote) is one of the most satisfying, joyful experiences you can have in life. (Okay, I’m a little biased, but this I can guarantee.)

3)  The third and perhaps best secret, so well expressed by Anna Quindlan,  is about writing is for self discovery. She wrote:

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.

Thinking about working with a private writing coach? I work with writers of all levels – face to face, via telephone, email or Skype –  that is as unique as the individual and the project. I’ve rarely worked the same way, twice. Feel free to email me at to set up a free telephone consultation to see if private writing coaching is what you need to find your story and begin to write it.