Like many creative nonfiction writers, I find myself falling back on the same stories over and over, trying to squeeze more juice out of them.
Stories about my social anxiety.
Stories about my estrangement from my father.
Stories about my pregnancy and pregnancy losses.
Stories about parenting.
Stories from my teaching career.
These are the stories whose themes have shaped the course of my life and have, in many ways, brought me to where I find myself today.
And there’s nothing wrong with exploring them.
But as I sit here in my mid-40s, I’m realizing that there is so much more than that in my history.
Small stories have brought me here as much as the big ones. Ridiculously funny stories have shaped my life as much as the traumatic ones. And if I am going to share my stories, I owe it to myself, at least, to tap into all of them.
So I numbered a page 1-100 and made myself come up with one hundred stories.
The first few were easy, because they are the stories I fall back on over and over.
The next few were also quick, because I’ve already written and/or told live stories about them:
The exercise quickly became painful, almost excruciating. My inner critic came alive, telling me that all of these stories are stupid, and that I’ve never done anything worth telling about.
I had to ask my husband for help, because panic set in when I couldn’t remember anything that had happened during the 20 years we’ve spent together.
Some illustrated themes which I may or may not have known about myself.
Some were individual stories that could be woven together to make larger ones.
This list of 100 stories I’ve created is nowhere near exhaustive, and I will continue to live new stories every single day.
I could create another one tomorrow with all new stories.
The gift of this activity is in the revelations.
Click here for a free printable worksheet where you can generate your own 100 Stories.
It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it.