With so many people considering writing a memoir or a series of essays about their life, you might be wondering if your story is worth writing. Of course, the short answer is…it depends.

You might think, as someone who encourages people to write and publish books, I would be on the rooftop with a megaphone in hand, calling for you to write it. But it’s not that simple. Just like running a marathon isn’t for everyone (definitely not for me) or even watching the sixth Terminator movie (maybe worse), writing a book isn’t something to jump into without a little thought.

Although there are other things you might consider before you embark on the writing journey, here is a good list to start your internal dialogue about whether your story is worth writing.

Do I want to write it, or am I interested just because other people think I should?

People come to me all the time saying, “People keep telling me I should write a book.” The first question I ask is whether they WANT to write it. Just because it may be interesting, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to write it. The desire has to come from within. Without that desire, it can feel more like a chore than a mission. You should feel the pull of the mission or the call from within instead of a push coming from what you ”should” do. If the desire is there, keeping going.

Do I want to spend the time writing it?

While it’s true that we find time for the things that are important to us, there are life circumstances that make it challenging. Consider whether you can or want to carve out the time in your schedule to write. If your only opportunity to write is in the wee hours of the morning, but you HATE the morning, you may be setting yourself up for failure. But, if you need to curb binge-watching Orange is the New Black, you have a better chance for success.

Does it seem like a cool challenge?

Before I wrote my first book, I was looking for the “next thing.” As fate happens sometimes, I heard about a writing workshop, and my interest was piqued. Although I had been writing children’s stories, writing for adults was a curiosity. I followed the path where it led and not only wrote the first one but two after that and built a business around writing.

Although parenting was clearly the greatest challenge in my life, there were a couple of other notable challenges I accepted. I learned to throw the javelin in high school and sometimes walked home with it because my coach wanted to go home before I did. My challenge was to set the school record before I left, and I did. As a young adult, I learned to juggle and overcame a fear of performing on stage. I’ve spent most of my adult life performing with my husband. It’s been a thrill and a challenge, for sure. When it was time for the next thing, writing a book filled the challenge meter.

If you’re excited about the challenge, it’s the momentum you need to forge ahead.

Is it something I’m passionate about, or is the result of the book something I’m passionate about?

Whether you’re thinking about writing your life story or a piece of it, you want to decide if you’re passionate about sharing it. You’ll spend many, many hours writing and rewriting. It may be the process of writing that excites you most. It may be the impact your story has on others. It may also be what comes as a result of becoming an author. Purpose has the power to propel you through the long hours at your computer. Those who are clear about their passion and purpose — for themselves and their readers — have the most success in finishing what they started. It’s the rocket fuel for your writing.

Am I writing this for me or other people? 

Answering this question is crucial to every step of the writing and publishing process. Most assume that writing a book is only purposeful if you are going to sell it. That could be true, but not always. If you are in it for the challenge, want to heal, share it with your family, make sense of your life journey, or create a legacy, selling it may not be part of your equation. And it doesn’t have to be.

If instead, you are writing to make a broader impact and sell it, you’ll want to invest more time and money to make it the best it can be. You’ll identify the target reader and write for them. You’ll get an editor and professional publishing and consider how you’ll reach readers once it’s published. Most importantly, you need to be comfortable sharing your story with others — including all the good AND bad hair days.

Do I want it to launch me into something else or make me better/more visible/credible at what I’m doing?

Maybe you’re after something different than selling books. For me, my first book was a marketing tool for my juggling business. My books on writing and publishing are the credibility I needed to start my publishing business. Sales of the book aren’t the focus for me, although the extra income is nice.

There are lots of reasons the book may be worth it to you beyond selling. You may want to make people feel like they’re not alone, start a movement, influence or inspire people, or raise awareness for your favorite cause. You may be looking to start or accelerate a career in speaking, coaching, or an endless list of other things. Writing a book demands that you know your topic, even if that is just you. Putting your name on the front of the book alerts people that you’ve got something to say and you know your stuff.

Is my story worth sharing?

There is a big difference between whether your story is worth writing and whether it’s worth sharing. Commercially successful books aren’t victim stories. They are stories of triumph. They are well written (meaning well-edited) and interesting to the reader. Stories written for those in your inner circle don’t require the same standards. That’s why it’s so important to know who you are writing it for.

Just because someone has a similar story shouldn’t deter you from sharing your story. After all, no one has experienced life just like you. You’ll share in a unique way and present it to YOUR tribe.

Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage and hang out with these questions. In the end, you’ll find the answer to whether your story is worth writing.


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