What’s Your Why?

You’re writing your life story, but do you know why?

The importance of determining your 'why' when writing your life story book
Knowing why you’re embarking on this journey will help you center your thoughts.

American author Mark Twain (1835-1910) is misquoted a lot. One memorable misattribution is: “There are two days in a person’s life that are more important than any other; the day you are born and the day you discover the reason why.” In fact, Twain never said or wrote that–the actual authors are an amalgam of various wits throughout the years.

Misattributed or not, the second part of this aphorism is worth considering when embarking on the process of writing your life story.

You’ve decided you want to write your life story. Now, you’ve got to get clear on why.

Knowing why you are writing your life story will help you focus.

At its most basic level, writing for any reason is a way for humans to explore and share ideas. We write to ensure we don’t forget our thoughts, whether that’s a grocery list or a college admissions essay.

Writing provides a fresh perspective. We can share our point of view with others and hope readers learn something new or recognize that there are always two sides to every story.

The act of writing is also one of the most personal acts a human can commit. Why? Because you, the Author, share your thoughts, hopes, dreams, wishes, and beliefs on paper. You are making a declaration, stating a fact, sharing an opinion, exposing a truth, and hoping a reader will find something valuable in your words.

Why Are You Writing Your Life Story?

Finding your why will help you identify your book’s purpose.

Below are a few reasons why people just like you decide to write down their life stories:

  • To share a unique point of view
  • To share a remarkable story only known to the Author
  • To share a story of grief and hardship to show that we are not alone in our grief
  • To share a story of joy, to show that we are not alone in our happiness.
  • To express a creative desire
  • To document a way of life for future generations
  • To become a better person or communicator.

What’s your why? What’s pushing you to sit down and put your stories on paper?

If you’re unsure, read the following statements and see if any apply to you. Your responses may reveal your writing motivation:

  • I am writing my life story to provide a written record of my life and what I have experienced.
  • When I tell people stories from my life, they often say I should write a book.
  • I have lived a full and eventful life, and I want to share the wisdom I have learned with readers to make their lives better.
  • My life hasn’t been that unusual, but I want to leave a written record of it and ensure the facts are straight. 
  • My life has been extraordinary, and I want to share it with the world.

Knowing why you’re writing your book will help you maintain your focus, point of view, and the tone you want for your voice in print.

Reminding yourself of why you’re writing is a powerful incentive to help you keep going.

Finding the purpose of your book will help you create a compelling story from start to finish. This careful structuring of events (also known as a book’s storyline or plot) will compel your reader to keep turning the page to find out what happens next.

Can you write your life story without finding your why? You certainly can, but writing with purpose almost always leads to a better, fuller, more exciting book.

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Author Barabara Basbanes Richter, Founder of DIYBook
About the Author

Barbara Basbanes Richter founded DIYBook, an affordable and easy-to-use book writing program. She also founded In Ink Ghostwriting, a full-service ghostwriting firm helping politicians, pundits, scientists, CEOs, professional athletes, and others get their stories into print.

Under her own byline, Barbara’s writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, The Vineyard Gazette, Humanities, The Sewanee Review, Fine Books & Collections, Literary Features Syndicate, High Country News, Ravishly.com, Westchester Magazine, and other outlets.

Barbara is a fluent French speaker, and her translation from French to English of Mademoiselle de Malepeire was called a “clever, inspiring gem.”

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