Finding The Theme of Your Life

boats at a Galway pier illustrating a post for writers about finding the theme of your lifeFinding the theme of your life is a fantastic exercise for writers who want to improve their skills, stop procrastinating and be successful.

It may require a little thought, but if you take the time, your writing will reap the benefits.

You will no longer feel stuck or abandon stories and books a third or even half of the way through because before you start writing, you will learn how to assess your ideas before you start.

How To Get Motivated

Being self-motivated is key to being a writer. But until that time when you have a commission or promise of a contract or money for your story, it can be hard keeping yourself motivated.

Writing without a promise of publication or money is called writing on spec. Writing on spec can tough going. I should know, a lot of my work has been ‘on spec.’

Much of my spec work has resulted in me receiving paid contracts, but I still write regularly without any kind of promise.

One reason I can do this is that I enjoy writing and more importantly, the reason I enjoy writing is that the ideas I choose to develop are based on themes that resonate with me.

The themes of my life are based on my own experiences so I won’t share too much about my private life here, but by way of example, I will mention two themes that interest me.


I have survived poverty and financial jeopardy twice – once growing up in a poor family and later after a marriage break up left me broke. So any themes where the main character has to survive hard times to succeed resonate with me – no matter what the story is actually about.


I was betrayed twice by people who I considered good friends – so I can’t help but be interested in themes around betrayal.

Finding the Theme of Your Life

book cover - Practical Creative Writing Exercises by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about illustrating a post for writers about finding the theme of your lifeI’m not saying you have to write about your own life – you can if you want. But the themes of your life can be explored in many different types of story.

So how do you find those themes? This process has really helped me, and the best thing about is that there are just three steps:

Three Steps to Finding Your Theme

1. Read my post on examples of themes.

Read it carefully, think about the different types of story that could apply to each theme.

2. Sit down in a quiet place and begin to write down your most significant memories.

Think about the events, challenges and experiences that you can never forget.

It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start with the ones that stand out most. Look for patterns in your experience and keep writing.

Sometimes painful memories come to the surface; this is natural and we all have them. You may not want to write about them, and that is fine – just mark them as significant.

3. Once you have written down as many of your significant memories as you can stand – start to look for the themes. 

Read examples of theme again. Do any of your themes recur?

Check the significant memories against the list of themes. 

Maybe you could tackle the theme involved in the memory rather than the incident, experience or event?

Think about the stories that these themes could inspire – so many different stories – choose the one that you know deep down you need to write.

Needing to Write

Needing to write is more powerful than wanting to write. So many people want to write but how many do?

Writers that apply themselves regularly are writers who need to write. They are so engrossed in writing that times flies away.

By the way, when times flies as you are writing this is called flow and the experience of flow is wonderful.

I have sat down to write and found myself hours later sitting in the dark with only the light from my laptop and realised that hours have passed. This is what it’s like to be in flow, and you can do this too.

So do try this exercise – take it slowly, carefully and honestly.

When you are done, begin to write that story, confident that there will be no more getting stuck or giving up – just writing.

Best wishes


P.S. All the information, exercises and tips on this site are free to you – liking, sharing or commenting help to support this site.

I love helping writers, but there are costs involved for me. So if you find this helpful –  please use the donate button below.

You can make any donation – large or small to help keep this site going.

Another great way to show your support and make your writing great is to buy and review my book. You won’t be sorry because Practical Creative Writing Exercises is packed full of inspiring exercises to get your ideas flowing in minutes


book cover - Practical Creative Writing Exercises by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about illustrating a post for writers about finding the theme of your life

Never Be Stuck Again!




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