Unraveling the Meaning of the Narrative in Your Writing

There’s a lot of training and conditioning of how a story is supposed to go.  Think of before and after stories in marketing and the hero’s journey in fiction.

A community I discovered several years ago held the narrative “I can do everything despite X problem.” 

The posts put a focus on function and a positive attitude.  While this narrative has its place and purpose, I felt a strong sense of disconnect when flipping through posts of hundreds of beaming faces showing off their differences.  To me, this didn’t feel like the whole story. 

It didn’t feel like a story that honored the full truth.

I tend to doubt narratives that employ the idea that someone is completely free of suffering and struggle. 

It feels fake, and like there’s no commonality for me to connect on.  A hard plastic exterior which echoes my knocking back to me and leaves me feeling more alone. 

Instead of a living breathing textured surface with pores scars and imperfections that I have the context to compare with my own.

This concept that’s being sold through magazines and advertisements about perfection, satisfaction, happiness… doesn’t really exist.

There is an oversimplification in the narrative of “I can do everything despite X problem.” 

It’s like a memoir without the real truth of the hard parts, just the shiny ones.  I feel dissatisfied with stories like this. 

And sadly, it seems like values around toxic positivity, achievement above all else, and increased dependence on artificial intelligence and technology make it more common.

Our struggle is actually what makes us interesting. 

That’s where the juice is.  There is a connecting universality in the lived experience of knowing what pain and suffering is through a human body.  

Our struggles give us power and strength.  Our vulnerabilities connect us.

As a writer, sometimes I fall into the trap of molded archetypes and training on the hero’s journey to the extent that it keeps me from my truth. 

I find myself wanting to fit my story into a narrative that is integrated and clear, flowing beautifully from beginning to end.  

But life isn’t like that.  Life is messy and pain is inevitable. 

Trying to bottle it into something else, to create a pretty narrative that matches outside norms, might be an automatic impulse but ultimately feels disingenuous and incomplete.

Struggling with your narrative, and the narratives that exist in social culture is human. 

You are human.  Your story doesn’t have to be pretty all the time.

I would love to see stories that hold more authenticity, rather than reducing an individual to their accomplishments or the projected image they wish they held. 

I am constantly in the process of discovering for myself how to be “more me,” getting it wrong and self-correcting along the spiraling path as I learn (through mistakes, missteps, and misadventures) to know myself more and more.  

Which version feels better and more connected to you? 

“I can do everything despite this problem,” or

“I had to stop doing the thing I loved most in the world and work through grief and trauma, but I am knowing myself more, and now I feel stronger in who I am.”

About the Author

I help people reconnect to themselves and tell stories that make their soul sing.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different to write from the heart.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with self-expression — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.