If life is a book, and you are the author of your actions, what is your next chapter and what actions are you going to write to get to the ending you want?
We do not get to write the forward for our life book. Our parents and culture do that for us. We have heavy collaboration in writing the first chapter, our pre-teen years, often with our parental figures. Once we get to our teen years, we start to break away from our co-authors and write the next chapter more shakily on our own. As an adult, we are writing our own solo chapters. When we find ourselves in a relationship, we may co-author a few sections, but we predominantly are the authors of our lives.
I can not write the script for someone else’s actions, but I certainly can for mine. I don’t write the consequences of my actions, although I certainly can speculate on the likely outcomes.
So here you are, the author of your life. The chapters of the past have been sent to the publisher and printed in a magazine – they can’t be altered. The next chapter though – that has yet to be written.
As you are writing this new chapter in your life, perhaps there are a few things you might want to consider
Every good author looks at the previous chapters to ensure continuity of the story. Well written characters evolve and change. Sometimes the story of our life is a bit static with very little change, sometimes it’s a bit frenetic with changes all of the time.
Ask yourself, how did your previous chapters end? We can either define the end of our chapter as the loss of an opportunity, person, possession, career and so on, or we can define them as the beginning of a new chapter, new opportunities, new people, new possessions etc. Have you enjoyed the way you have ended your chapters?
Is there a pattern to your chapters, with repeated experiences or solutions that don’t seem to get you anywhere? Well written characters learn and grow and these questions allow you to do so too.
The Last Chapter
The latest chapter is the most powerful. It is the calm before the storm of change, the thing the defines how you got to where you are today, where you have decided to change the course of the book. From this chapter you can ascertain whether the lead character has achieved at this stage all of the things they needed to achieve for the changes about to occur. If they haven’t occurred, this is some good material to add to this next chapter.
It is also a good point in time to reflect on what your character has achieved in the book of life. It is easy to get lost in all of the things that could have been and completely miss all of the things that have occurred, that have gone right, that your character has won at. It is important to have a balanced view of life. If it was all bad, your character probably wouldn’t have survived this far – so measure accurately the things that worked.
Now it is time to plan this new chapter. Having reviewed the early chapters, skimming the highlights until you reviewed in detail the last chapter, what needs to occur in this new chapter to get the book back on track?
The rules for writing this chapter are quite simple. Define the goal for the end of this chapter, but make sure that goal is achievable, since it is only a chapter, and not the rest of the book. Now write your actions that will work in the environment your character is in, with the resources your character actually has that will get that end of chapter goal. Remember the important thing about writing is not the things the character gets, it is far more about how the character feels about these things. The chapter should end on an emotion and the things and the actions lead the character to this emotion.
Now write carefully and review it before submitting it to the publisher.
To publish this fine chapter, simply follow the actions you have penned out for your character. You may need to submit alterations as you go. Remember it isn’t the plan that is important, it is the journey and the destination. If the plan changes, so be it.
What chapter do you plan to write?