What is Your Backstory?

Nice milestone yesterday. I hit the 25,000 word mark (actually 25,789) toward my goal to complete and win NaNoWriMo. For National Novel Writing Month the goal is 50,000 words during the calendar month of November and nothing will stop me.  This is the challenge to get me on my way to completing my first novel next year.

Each of my blog posts average 300 to 400 words. For this novel-writing challenge I am averaging over 2,000 words a day and about two and a half hours of writing. A simple way to define what you are passionate about … do it for several hours every day and know you want more. Indeed a bad day of writing is still better than a day with no writing. Some days my writing is complete shit. It does not matter though with the NaNoWriMo challenge. Just keep writing. A day will come for edits and re-writing, just not this month. No brakes and pedal to the metal, shitty writing or hey, that is pretty good … Just write.

nanowrimo-logoI have not forgotten this blog and while writing my story, I thought of a few parallels for leadership and organizational effectiveness.  Later I will write on each in more detail. For today though I am thinking about back story and character worksheets. For my story I have eight key characters. From my protagonist and his counter, the antagonist (yea, using the writing lingo) each has a three-dimensional story of who they are, who they were and who they may be. I must know my characters completely and I find that it changes my view of the world outside of my story.

Yesterday, as I was driving to work, I had to wait at a long red light. I first heard and then saw an older Ford F-150 truck pull up next to me. It was vintage 1970’s and well-kept. My impression was the truck had the same owner for the past 30 plus years. This truck was an extension of the man holding the steering wheel, now wearing a ball cap, v-neck sweater and pressed khaki pants. I wondered who he is, who he was, and where is he going. What logo is on his well-worn hat? What has he accomplished in life? Does he still talk to his kids? In the one minute waiting for a green light I created a back story of his life. He was a character in my story. An old man driving his 30-year-old Ford F-150 through the big city.

At the office over the past week, while I am creating back stories and full character bios for my novel, I think of the people I work with. Can I fill out a character sheet on each and do I know them as well as the fictional characters that are part of my novel? I think so. Some gaps, but a good leader focuses on these gaps and learns more about the story and the motivations of the real people they work with everyday. From that place work gets done and together we can create something more.

Sadly many leaders have little knowledge of that story each of us carry with us every day.

Writing fiction is proving to help me with my, oh so real, world. From my own personal story now hitting a critical “pinch-point” to understanding the people … the characters I interact with every day.  I am reaching the mid-point of my story and I am ready to write the second half of the book.

Thank you NaNoWriMo for the challenge. That blank page for chapter one on November 1st was scary. I found a way to start though and damn-it, I can not stop now. To each of you, find your passion and get lost in it.

2 thoughts on “What is Your Backstory?

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  1. Fascinating….this process with your book! You are there in and out of the details and reaching and searching! I think it is incredible ……

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