For writers, stories are like lovers: they shape our days, they occupy our thoughts, they make us laugh and cry and stamp our feet in frustration – and we would do just about anything for them.
And yet, we neglect them. We let life get in the way. We tell them that our diaries are full, that we’ll have to see them another time. We allow the trivial to become important and put off what we know matters most: nurturing our love, making sure that it’s strong and healthy – and that it grows.
So, we need to sit down and renew our vows.
Here’s an idea: at some point today, take half an hour, get out a piece of paper and write a love letter to your story. If you don’t have time for a letter, write a post-card.
At the top, write the date and the place you are writing from and address it to your main character or to the title of your story. Tell her what you love about her – hyperbolise, gush – tell her why she matters so much to you. Say that you’re sorry for letting her down. Make new commitments (be specific). And promise that that from now on, you’ll be there for her.
And then tell her what you wish for: your dreams and hopes and longings for your shared life.
And when you’ve finished gushing, be practical: tell her when you are going to meet her next and for how long and what you’re going to do on your date.
And here’s the exciting bit – I want you to do something you may not have done for quite a while:
Fold up your letter and put it in an envelope, stick on first class stamp, address it to your character or story, below it, write your home address – and then post it.
When the letter drops back through your letterbox, you’ll feel the tingle of excitement you had when you first fell in love with your story. And you’ll want nothing more than to sit down and write.
Make sure you read your love letter aloud. Then stick it in your notebook or sellotape it to the wall above your desk. Read it again every day, and, if you want…write back. If the process has helped you, why not keep up a correspondence through as you write your story?
So, there you have it, my bit of inspiration for this glorious Monday. Go on – do it now, write your love letter. Write it your lunch break; write it while you’re in that dull meeting; write it on the train on your way home. And post it, really post it!
Your story deserves to hear your declarations of love.
Photographs by Jessye Mann
For everyone: If you’re not a scribbler, consider doing this with any project you have neglected. Putting your commitment to it in words will help bring it back to life.