Per my last series of posts, we have discussed the importance of articulating theme. It’s an essential ingredient to being able to create a career out of your writing. But how do we become objective enough in our own life to be able to really decant our own essence and put it into words?
We do it through a series of questions that you have probably answered before. But we’re going to look at them in a new way!
1. I want you to think back to your greatest failure in life. I’m talking about a time you fell on your face hard. Maybe it was in your career. Maybe it was related to love. Maybe it was related to education. Maybe it was related to family, or to health. Whatever it was, it caused you humiliation and embarrassment. So much so that you might have taken months to recover, if you ever recovered at all. Now I want you to think about the pain that was caused by this failure. The pain that devastated you. And I want you to analyze that pain. I want you to dissect it and find its root. I’m not talking about a shallow response to this question, like “my business failed,” or “I didn’t win the race.” I’m talking about the real root of the pain. What did that failure prove that you were not worthy of? That you were incapable of? If you can articulate that in its rawest form, you might be on to your theme.
2. Now I want you to think about your greatest accomplishment. Your greatest success. The time you were on top of the world. Maybe it was in your career. Maybe it was related to love. Maybe it was related to education. Maybe it was related to family, or to health. And I want you to think about that joy you experienced. I want you to analyze it, to dissect it, and again, to find its root. What did that accomplishment prove to you that meant so much? What did that accomplishment validate in you? If you can truthfully articulate the root of that joy, you might be on to your theme.
3. My last question to you is this: If you found a magic lamp, and in that lamp was a genie that granted you one wish that you could not use for yourself—one wish that you had to use on someone else in your life—what would you wish for? If you can answer that question truthfully, you might be on to your theme.
The intention with questions like these is to truly look at what is important in your life based on your behavior; not on your idealism, but on your reality.
Start to look at what is the real essence of you. What makes you get out of bed in the morning (other than the idea of that cup of coffee, and the screaming kids). What drives you? What means more to you than you? The reason we have to find this piece of the puzzle is because the road to building a career will take tremendous energy, discipline and dedication, and the only way you will barrel through the obstacles ahead of you, is to have a reason more compelling than the fear of failure that will prevent you from getting where you want to go.
So articulate that theme that is all you. Respect it. It’s a gift. Then take responsibility for it. For doing something with it. Once you’ve done that, we can begin the real work. The next stage? Building your business.