Let’s say you are going to write a story. You have a character, who is . . . you! That’s right, you’re the central character (the protagonist). You have a blank computer screen in front of you, but, it’s not really a computer screen. It’s the next year of your life. You’re writing the story of your life for the next year. It’s kind of exciting. And scary. And a little confusing.
As the author, there’s something very important you have to clarify before you can write even the first paragraph. You have to be clear about what your character wants. We’re going to build
the story around what your character wants – the character’s purpose.
Your manuscript covers the next year of your life. You need something a bit more interesting, exciting, meaningful. That’s it –meaningful! You have to want something that gives your character’s life meaning. And it can’t be too easy. Because if it’s easy, then we know how the story will end. It has to be challenging – challenging enough so the reader isn’t sure whether the character will succeed. A well-known speaker said that if there’s not a reasonable chance that you’ll fail, then you’re doing the wrong thing.
Even if your purpose is meaningful and challenging, if it only benefits the main character, then the story will have limited interest. A better plot is where the character’s purpose will impact on a larger number of people.
In Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) what’s at stake? The future of mankind on Middle-Earth. In To Kill a Mockingbird, what’s at stake? Whether the entire African-American race can obtain justice in a country whose constitution guarantees it.
Consider the most common New Year’s resolutions – losing weight, more exercise, more vegetables – less sugar, spend less – save more. These are great lifestyle choices. But if this is the last year of your life, is this how you want to finish your story?
Many of us become comfortable in our circumstances as we age. We like our bed and our morning coffee and where we’ve placed artwork and photos on the wall. We don’t want to shake things up too much. So when we think about what we want next year we decide we’ll finally clean out the upstairs closet. We’ve been putting it off for years. This year, by golly, we’re going to do it!
Here’s my advice: put it off for another year. Leave your closet in a state of chaos and devote yourself to something that will make a difference. Something with some suspense and adventure that will make this year an exciting and challenging story.
And don’t use your age as an excuse. Kirk Douglas became a novelist when he was 80. But that wasn’t enough, so at age 92 he wrote a one man show entitled, “Before I Forget.” Your age is an advantage in your story. You’ve made more mistakes you can learn from than younger people.
[End of Excerpt – from “A Guide to Self-Reflection for the New Year” by Gregg Krech.
Gregg will be teaching the online program, “Living on Purpose” starting on January 11, 2020. This program is designed to help you get off to a good start in the new year — to help you clarify your purpose and stay on track. For more information – https://www.thirtythousanddays.org/product/livingonpurpose/
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......