Should you find yourself first before you write stories?

I saw these lines in my idea notebook: “We were writing stories when we should have been trying to find ourselves. Only then can we write stories.” It’s a feeling that I had when I was studying Creative Writing in college, and now I know those lines are both correct and incorrect.

I stopped telling stories because I was dissatisfied with the experience of writing them. I felt like I was just writing for show. Ooh look at me I can write this awesome sentence! But it had no heart, no purpose. It was just performance, not truth. In college, there was no emphasis on trying to find out who you are. I had great teachers, but nobody ever told us that it’s not just about learning techniques, grammar, interesting plot, and awesome sentence structures. Yes, those things are important, but it was also about finding what you know to be authentically true. It was about looking for the story that only you can tell. It was about following your instincts, becoming immersed in a world, and being brave enough to capture it in your own words. When you understand your identity, that’s when you find your voice, that’s when you find your story, that’s when you find your masterpiece.

The rebuttal to this is in Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist where he says: “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started”. He makes sense when he says that the process of creating work is the means by which we discover who we are. So nowadays, I am trying to figure out who I am, and I know I have to do this while I write stories. But a part of me feels that it’s pointless. A part of me feels like I have no story to tell. Because I don’t know who I am. Because I have yet to experience more things. Are these disguised procrastination? Are these valid reasons or evidence of cowardice? What will make me start?

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All the opinions expressed in this page and in this blog are my own and do not represent the official stances of the companies, institutions, and organizations that I am affiliated with. I am a person. I’m not just a manifestation of corporate interests. I have an identity that is separate from my company because even if human beings are paid for a service by corporations, human beings are not owned by corporations.


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