Stories in my head.
Only like 6 months ago, I firmly believed I was a terrible writer. And maybe I was but it’s neither what I believed about myself in those moments, nor what I believe now that I want to speak about. Let’s wade into how I let what maybe true today, limit what is possible tomorrow.
It’s possible to be a terrible writer today and a New York’s best seller in 3 months; because a best seller is not merely judged by the quality of punctuation but the resonance of their story. In the same way, the appetite for art isn’t monopolized by perfectly assembled brush strokes but also the stories weaving through their imperfection. A best selling piece doesnt just command grammatical construction but it’s an ensemble showcasing depth of thought and deft touch.
I made one decision that has dramatically changed how my writing is perceived. I stopped writing for applause and acceptance and validation of my linguistic command. I instead focused on capturing plainly and simply, the inspirations my mind is merely blessed to capture. Lastly, I chose to use stories not great intellectually certified thought.
It turns out, my writing didn’t change structurally. I still employ the frequent use of typos and run ons but the stories are human stories. You want to read the next layer of the Dolapo onion being peeled and shed at the same time. People don’t buy what I am not willing to offer.
6 months ago, I had fallen in love with the villains of the stories I told myself for almost 30 years. I hated running and I hated writing. 2020 was a year that tore down so much but in so doing, it also offered me a gift — a reason to write and a reason to run. It gifted me with a new way to perceive myself that is independent of the stories my brain told me without trying; stories I had accepted, believed and built my life on, without needing to try.
What if I told you that the difference between the richest man and the poorest man in the world is the marriage between information and choice? I realized in 2020 that I can only become the widest and wildest horizon of my imagination. And the path to becoming him requires consistent choices towards the vision on the edge of that imagination’s horizon.
In 2020, I started running because I read or listened somewhere that it is one of the main stays in the routines of some of the greatest men in history. Go down the line, not “one shot wonders”, most consistently great men had a common trait — discipline. One of the easiest ways to practice that discipline is doing things to engage the muscle of the brain to expand and submit to the will of the mind. Running fits the bill perfectly but it’s not merely running; truly it’s physical activity that clears the head and releases dopamine or whatever that good-job-ecstasy hormone is.
Well choice was easy. I didn’t want to get fat and I wanted to keep whatever food habit I had at the time. Combine that with pandemic and a chance at discipline extended to paint a vision of a great man someday and I had all the motivation to consistently choose to beat up my mind as much as I hated running.
I came to realize 22 days in that it wasn’t that I hated running, it was that my mind hated being ruled and running was the most blatant way I showed it who was boss. 66 days in, I was addicted to my new routine and I couldn’t Imagine a day going by without me running.
77 days in and I was an internally different person because in a short while, I chose to consistently act in alignment with stacked up information about running — one being that it takes 21 days to break a habit, 21 days to replace it and 21 days for it to become automatic. I’d known that but I had no interest in becoming an automatic runner.
Anyways! I digress. I took my new found excitement and formula and went into writing. If you look at my medium description you could see my goal. The overwhelming information I had was that my writing was devoid of stories. Use stories. More stories. Stop saying what you wanna say and let the story say it. I watched master classes on story writing. I reached out to some of the best story writings in my network. And I was moved too! I read their work and I was moved by how well they held my attention.
Someone told me that the only goal of the current page is to lead to the next and I thought how incredibly simply put! It’s true! I don’t like reading articles that make me scroll down and see when it will end. I like writings that I didn’t want to end. Imagine starting a show on Netflix and one episode in, you are checking to see how many seasons and episode till you are done. Those are the not good ones, right ?
The stories should be so compelling that I just wanna keep turning the page. I have always been a decent oral story teller! I always knew that people enjoyed listening to me describe stuff. I learnt the art of truthful exaggeration from my dad! Oh my don’t get me started on that but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I couldn’t write the way I spoke.
It turns out, it’s simply because I didn’t want to be clear. Orally, you can tell a story and use animation and body movement to hold attention but in written communication, the attention is squarely on the story. It has to be rich. The story, it’s layers, it’s construction, it’s interconnectedness and it’s truthfulness. I have to take a reader on a tourist trip through her imaginations with the combination of word choices and what it evokes as the tour guide. In the same way a tour guide doesn’t need to change his speech to wow the different unique casts of characters that pass by for a chance to sip in a breathtaking moment, my words could spark different things in people but be grounded in a familiar truth.
I’ve learnt these but it took a journey of marriage between choice and information. By choice, I really mean obedience. My stories have been painful to write especially at the beginning when they were attempting to puncture a balloon full of emotional loss. The idea of being clear about exactly what I was saying when I didn’t Want to reveal my pain or shame. It took obedience. It took daring. It took consistent choice with information prodding the path.
Who do you think you are? Or better yet, what stories do you believe about yourself? I know few people that listen internally to primarily good stories about themselves. Those who do have imposed their will on their mind by consistently empathizing with the root of the “bad” — half-truth-singular-perspective — stories and educating their mind so it can forgive and let go and believe different.
It’s time to listen intently to the stories you tell yourself not merely try to tirelessly switch it because “good vibes only.” Listen to it. It reminds me that every nagger has a pain to be heard. Hear it but don’t let it define you.
Hear it. Then educate it. Educate it by informing it of the tiny significant details and perspectives it’s minimized to prevent you from going to places that may hurt you. Tell your mind, “I’ve heard”, “you are right”, “Let’s write a new chapter together.”
Today is a good day to become. Who will you choose to listen to? I choose to write new stories, you can too.