Because if you don’t know — and tell people soon — it may be too late. So make your list and check it twice. And it’s not just Christmas we’re talking about here. Seriously — what do you want?
What do you want?
As I was walking through a Portland neighborhood this morning, I overheard two young girls, each about nine years old. The first girl was emerging from the front door of the house. And she said, excitedly, “Ava already has her Christmas list done.” And the second girl sat up and said to the first girl, “But it’s summer.”
Do you want people to listen?
Because if you want people to listen, tell them a story. And no — your story doesn’t need to start with “Once upon a time.” In fact, the best stories start in the middle of something. Because a ball is already in play. And all you need to get that ball rolling is a want. Because whether you know it or not, at the back of your brain right now is a question. And that question is: “What does Ava want for Christmas?” Because Ava knows what she wants, and we want to know what that is — and what on earth compelled her to make her Christmas list in July.
And the same is true of your story.
Or maybe you’re thinking. “What do I want for Christmas? Better get that list going.” Because you are the protagonist of your story. So we need to know what you want. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of blah blah blah. And this is true not only for your external audience. It’s also true for your internal audience. In other words, the Scribbler inside of your brain, who is working desperately to make sense out of all the otherwise random events of your life. Because unless you know what you want, your Scribbler gets confused, and then you get bored with your own story. In fact, this may be the problem right now — that you’re not clear about what you want. So you don’t know where your own story is going. And so, you’ve become a strange cocktail of confused, overwhelmed, and bored — and it’s giving you a headache.
So please do this.
Please get out a piece of paper and write down what you want. And don’t roll your eyes at me, Mr. I see you. Because you know that what I’m saying is true. You don’t really know what you want. And so you feel anxious and out of sorts. And you’re not sure what to do about it. And maybe you didn’t sleep all that well last night. And maybe you’re wondering: should I be taking melatonin? Maybe. But it might well be that what would help even more is to take out that piece of paper and write down what you want — and start getting after it.