One of the great gifts a writer can give to the world is to tell someone else's story.
I learned this when I started ghostwriting: no credit, no glory, just the knowledge that without me, the story wouldn't be told. It's surprisingly satisfying.
If you're still trying to write stories about yourself, I want to challenge you to try your hand at writing someone else's story. Here are three reasons why.
1. You Learn More About Your Story.
By exploring the lives of others through our writing, we invariably explore our own lives. While we writers can be loners, life was not meant to be lived in a vacuum, and writing was not meant to be done without source material.
When you write about others, you get a new lens to look at your own life through. You see new details that never occurred to you before. You discover yourself. You also discover more about the lives of your characters. One writer told me he loves taking classes at his community college because he “finds more people to write about.”
2. You Give the Gift of Meaning.
Storytellers have always been imparters of meaning, and I think one of our responsibilities as writers is to provide meaning for others.
Some of the best writing I have ever done, I wrote for a small group of friends. It was so powerful because I was able to add layers of meaning to our shared experience. When you tell someone else's story, you can give them a window into their own soul.
3. You Touch the Divine.
A few years ago, I told an artist friend I was working freelance for a local newspaper.
“That's so great!” he said.
“Meh. It's okay. It's just a local weekly and it doesn't pay very well.” Newspaper writers are famously underpaid, and freelancing is even worse.
“But I think there's something of the divine in telling other people's story.”
I could be kidding myself, trying to cover my work in holiness when in reality it's quite profane, but I think he was right. By telling someone else's story you put down your own selfish, self-creation, and you serve someone else's story.
We all want to be understood. Consider showing someone you understand them and their story. Dive into it. Explore it's depths. Then, share it with the world.
Secretly, Incredible You Stories
My friend Jeremy Statton is hosting a contest for stories about people who are doing incredible things, people who are living incredible, inspiring stories, but they're living them in secret.
He believes there are people out there who are doing amazing things but no one is making movies out of their lives, no one is writing books about them. And he thinks that should change.
I want to challenge you to tell someone's secretly, incredible story. If the story you tell wins, you might be published in a book. A real one. With paper and stuff. But even more than that, you'll get to tell someone else's story. That alone is worth it.
Tell someone else's secret, incredible story.
Maybe about a family member who passed away, a friend who is doing amazing things, a stranger you recently met. Use lots of details, and interview them if you need to.
1. Share their story on the Secretly, Incredible You Contest page.
2. Share their story here, in the comments section. We'd love to read it.