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My writerly inheritance: The curiosity gene

When I was in elementary school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Working as a journalist turned out to be the perfect job for me because it required asking questions, which is one of my favorite things to do.

My blogging partner Carol’s post, What writerly traits run in your family?, got me thinking about my writerly DNA.

I was born with the curious gene. I figure I inherited it from my mother. When I was a newspaper reporter, she often called me with some tidbit of news she’d heard or something she saw that she thought I’d want to know about because it might make a good story. And she was often right.

Curiosity is a particularly good feature for writers to have since part of our role as storytellers is to ask “who, what if, where,” and one of my favorites — “Why?” I like to know how things work and why people do what they do.

Given my super curious nature, I naturally couldn’t resist buying a book recently called Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life by Todd Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University. I learned that curiosity offers many benefits. Kashdan says the greatest opportunities for joy, purpose, and personal growth don’t happen when we’re searching for happiness. They happen when we are mindful, explore what’s novel, live in the moment, and embrace uncertainty. These are also traits we must embrace as writers.

Not only is curiosity a key trait for creating compelling stories, it’s an element that helps build a fulfilling life. Kashdan wrote, “Curiosity is the spark plug that ignites other factors that contribute to happiness and meaning in life. You can’t work with strengths until you spot them and investigate them. You can’t be grateful without being curious about what benefits you received in your life.”

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