This isn’t a new concept for me or for you. I’m sure I’ve spoken about this on my blog or podcast before, but perhaps not in this depth. Why is a great question, right? I means it’s annoying when kids go “why? Why? Why?” to everything you say, but it’s actually a brilliant way of getting to the core of something.
Today, let’s discuss the power of asking why.
Why does my character want to go on this quest? Why do they need this journey? Why do they live alone? Why do they fear that thing? Why do I want to write this story? Why does it matter?
YouTuber and indie author Abbie Emmons always says this, “why does your story matter?” Not matter to the world but matter to you. It’s not about plot and excitement; it’s about characters going on a journey within themselves and transforming. They learn something that matters to you. A truth is revealed, big or small.
But if you never ask yourself why when writing or plotting your story, you may not get to the essence of it. You may not know what you’re really writing about and really want to communicate with your audience.
Your story’s why might be what makes it successful. What makes it memorable.
Emotions and inner self
Why do you keep eating even when you’re full? Why do you get triggered by people commenting on your work? Why do you cry at stories about father figures? Why do you exercise so much? Why do you keep ruining your relationships?
You don’t need a therapist for these things (although it can help). Instead just asking yourself why, and being honest and fair and kind to yourself, can bring about some eye opening and potentially life changing answers.
And go deep. Don’t just ask why once; be that annoying kid who keeps asking and going deeper. Why? Why’s that? Why really?
Why are you offended? Why are you upset? Why does it matter to you?
This is powerful stuff and will help all of us. There won’t be some grand epiphany that changes everything and makes you a perfect human being (trust me, I’ve searched for it and wanted it so badly but it’s just not possible!). Instead it will help you to know yourself better and perhaps make healthier decisions from a place of self-knowledge and understanding. It will improve your relationships and your relationship with yourself.
- Understanding of your beliefs
- Your desires
- Your fears
- Your emotions and emotional triggers
- Your past
- Your choices
- Your inner voice/ inner critic
- Your trauma
- Your habits and behaviours
- Your failures and shortcomings
Goals and aspirations
Why do you want to travel the world? Why do you want to be a published writer? Why do you want to run a marathon? Why do you want to be rich? Why really?
It’s very easy to set goals especially in this modern day of self improvement youtubers and Instagram influencers. You want the six pack, the endless picturesque travel, the gorgeous home, the car, the financial freedom to pursue it all. Simple.
If you don’t know why you want something, it’s just surface level. It’s harder to pursue and acquire. You may even get the thing but not be fulfilled because you didn’t even know why you wanted it anyway. This is about asking why something matters to you. Why you should bother putting time and energy into it.
Knowing why help you to keep going when it’s hard. It keeps you motivated and showing up for yourself.
Exploration and understanding of all things
Why do you enjoy what you enjoy? Why do you laugh at that thing? Why do you wear those clothes? Why do humans love? Why do people in Japan do X? Why do people in Mongolia do Y?
If nothing else, it brings clarity and understanding into your life. Your personal experience of the world but also the workings of the wider world. You will never fully understand everything but this brings you closer to the things that matter to you.
Taking time to ask why, so much so it becomes a habit, helps you to be clear about what you’re doing, thinking, feeling and witnessing in the world throughout your life. It opens your eyes and your heart. It creates a sort of map where you can better plot and plan and avoid murky waters because you’re aware of them, unlike before.