The year is almost gone. It’s holiday time for family gathering, food, drinks, and fun. I doubt that anyone is going to sneak out from the festivities and write (a solemn bow, if you do!).

Writers do more than write, though. We live and absorb life, which may or may not get processed into words at a later stage. We talk and listen, share and laugh, cry and suffer, enjoy and love.

Family Storytelling

Christmas revolves around family and, last but not least, the family table. In the heat of enjoyment and gratitude for being together, family members share stories. For me, this is the best part: the storytelling.

Christmas table, family, stories

Photo by Derek Key

This can get the shape of a myth with a story circulating for decades, building in the young minds as an epic. Other times, it’s a satire, a retold internal joke that never stops to be funny.

Occasionally, new stories emerge, out of buried memories and longing for the ‘good old times’. You may learn extraordinary things about your mum and dad, or your grandparents, or great-great-grandparents, distant relatives, or even next-door neighbours.

Your siblings may come forward and admit something they did when they were young, which they kept in the closet. A whole repertoire is in order really: from the heart-breaking and sad to the most grotesque. And because it’s about your very family, not fiction, it’s fascinating.

Absorb Stories

Is there anything more inspiring for a writer than an abundance of personally affecting stories? Absorb these gems, and be curious for more. You can even initiate a game of sharing stories.

And of course, the main point is not to use all of these stories in your writing, but to keep your mind alert, learn, and digest, because they are responsible for who you are today.

These stories are worth hundreds of books. They show where you’ve come from. They remind you of how you became what you are now. They teach you about human experience from the most personal angle.

They can sometimes be ground-breaking, as when they provide you with an answer to a long-standing question. They can make you think and re-examine yourself. They can make you see something you’ve been overlooking.

Use the power of family stories to shape your writing mind. They are a huge part of what makes the writing self.

What’s your experience with family stories? Do you enjoy them?


For fifteen minutes write about a family story that deeply affected you. When you’re done, post it in the comments. Of course, support others’ practices with your honest feedback.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone at the Write Practice! It’s been a shiny year, and I’m sure the new one will come with even greater glory.

Sophie Novak is an ultimate daydreamer and curious soul, who can be found either translating or reading at any time of day.
She originally comes from the sunny heart of the Balkans, Macedonia, and currently lives in the UK. You can follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Share to...