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The Power of Curiosity and Questions in Crafting a Story

We’re curious beings.

Stories come from our curiosity.

Curiosity is an adventure. Something grabs our attention. We smell blueberry pie. We follow the scent, and it leads us down the street to a bakery. In the bakery is a brown-haired girl wearing ribbons in her hair. It reminds you of something or someone. Maybe you talk to her. Maybe you don't. The story arises from your curiosity and your next move.

Somewhere between smelling blueberry pie and ending up at the bakery down the street, next to the girl with ribbons in her hair, is the transformation of curiosity into choices, intuition, and intention.

Set the Intention to Follow Your Curiosity

Writing is all about story. We tell stories. And we take them into our story.

Story is a story. Poetry is a story. The letter "C" is a story.

The whole lovely thing we are experiencing is a story. So, if we want to write a new story, or a new take on an old story, what do we do? We set our intention, our life force energy, our emotions, and our time to that aspiration.

Do you know the old story about chop wood, carry water? I wrote about it in Calm Your Mind & Get Your Life Back: Simple Practices to End the Loops of Anxiety. (Formerly Unwinding Anxiety).

It boils down to this: What do you do before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water. What do you do after enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water.

Let's pivot that idea to Storytelling.

~What is life before enlightenment?~

Chop wood, turn it into pencil and paper, and write a story.

~What happens on the way to enlightenment?~

Ask questions, get different answers that shake us to the core, have a dark night of the soul, go through a nihilistic phase, get drunk, fall down, realize that it is a story, realize there's no escaping, realize there's nothing to escape, accept we like peach pie better than blueberry pie, don't get stuck in the preference, let go, let go, let go, and then if we don't give up, we see through the stories and laugh and get back to enjoying them like we enjoy air and water.

~What happens after enlightenment?~

Chop wood, turn it into a pencil and paper, and write another day.


Join us for Let's Write Together 😊

July Sessions: 07/08/23 and 07/23/23, 10 AM Central Time


Stories and Good Question Go Hand in Hand

Some stories stay with us. Some leave us. Why? It's this question that led to different story frameworks such as The Hero's Journey. 3-Act Structure, Freytag's Pyramid, and many others. Different ways to ask the questions, different questions, and different results for the reader's experience.

When you have a story to tell, it’s because you were curious and took action to explore.

Keep exploring and you may have an “aha” moment, life-changing epiphany, or simple clarification to something like, "Where's the light switch?"

We ask questions. We access the answer, and our awareness expands from it. Now we can share that new awareness.

And all of this started with curiosity and being willing to question.

What goes into asking a good question? Great observation.

I studied with a woman who I think is the best facilitator I’ve ever seen in any field. She is sweet-natured, smart, and deeply caring. She actually listens for the question underneath what you are saying. I spent five years learning from her, and every time I’m in a situation where I’m hosting a conversation, I appreciate my time with Kathy.

Knowing how to ask good questions is a skill you can learn and strengthen. It often happens by osmosis when we watch someone who is skilled at it. There are ways to redirect or reposition to bring out the broader picture. There are ways to ask and go deeper.

But underneath how we ask or the words we use, there must be a swelling curiosity to know the subject or person you are exploring.

Curiosity can come from ego. For example, I want to know more about you so I know better how to control or manipulate you.

Curiosity can come from compassion. For example, I want to be a mirror for you so I ask questions that help you to reflect because I care about your experience.

Curiosity can come from no place other than the desire to understand better. Sometimes, there is an agenda. Sometimes, there isn’t. Learning for the sake of learning is kind of human. Since I was a young girl, I just wanted to know. Everything. My childhood was spent absorbing World Book Encyclopedias. Yep, I was that kid (in 1980 something). When Mom told me to put away the encyclopedias if I was done, I usually replied, I'm never done. All I wanted was to know deeply, intimately every last detail of every last thing. A to Z. And not just to read about it, but to really get it.

So, that right there is the key – to want to understand.


Remember in high school when you learned about the 5 W’s? Who, where, when, why, what. And then there was the 1 H. How. We applied those six questions as a place to begin writing an article or a paper.

Most of us start wearing out the adults when we are age 2 or 3 with “WHY? Why? But why?” And then around age 4ish, we started asking, "How?'

Along the way, we started judging the response, and things got tangled up for pretty much the rest of our days. “Why” turns into “how could you?” or “what were you thinking?” Not the most helpful questions.

Still, these simple direct questions are often enough. Instead of accepting the assumed and status quo, will we ask who,what, why, where, when, and how?


Let’s get back to curiosity and the desire to understand.

The life of a writer means nothing ever goes to waste. Great writers go past the usual edges and use our creative life force to bring in evolutions and revolutions.

  • Start with yourself. Know yourself better. It'll make whatever you write so much more meaningful.

  • Know your environment better. The cup we drink from in the morning, the hackberry tree in the backyard. Do you know your environment? Writing asks us to pay attention to the smell of ozone, the indescribable softness of the sole of a baby's foot.

  • Are you paying attention? Are you present? And are you allowing the experience to enter you?

My standard advice when someone says, "Andrea, I have this book idea" or "I really want to write" is write first for yourself. It's an amazing journey. My second piece of advice is write from your heart. You can do it. It sets us apart.

You might think you're writing for others. But really? It's the coolest part about all of this. It always helps you in the end. You start writing - and all these questions show up. And you get real with yourself. This might take a long time, or no time at all. Are you willing to meet your questions? It's a very intimate journey.

Write first for yourself. I say this because I believe it and do it. Make your own heart sing.

One of the most direct ways to do this is through writing practice. I like doing it solo and in groups. Actually I love this as a group activity, which is why I've been leading writing practice and transformational journaling sessions for fifteen years.

So, come on and join us in our twice-monthly Let's Write Together sessions.


Ask your questions - big, small, silly, wild. Then listen. Look. Be aware. Did you go as far as you could? Did you let it digest through you? Great.

Writing practice shows us what is hidden under the obvious reactions and responses.


Is there someone you know who asks good questions? What do they do, how do they do it, and most importantly, why do they do it? Is it out of concern, the desire to control, plain curiosity, or to be a cosmic mirror? Pay attention.

Regardless of why they question, do they listen? Do they receive the information or emotions?

To be a good listener, there are a few things to consider.

  1. Don’t be afraid to peek around the corner, or poke a little at tender spots. But don’t knock the wind out of them. Whether it’s a conversation or an interview or acting as a confidante, be compassionate and curious but don’t bludgeon.
  2. If you are asking the questions, keep the focus on the other person as much as possible. I tend to want people to find me relatable, so I chum them up with a story, when really they are sharing to be heard or understood.
  3. It’s okay to allow space around a question, to give the person time to gather their thoughts.
  4. A classic technique is to play back to them what you heard them say. “What I heard you say is….” and put it into your own words as well as theirs. “Is that what you meant?”


It doesn’t matter if it is history, science, religion, culture, society, business, and economy, or how ants keep coming into your kitchen.

We often reflect on personal or family history in order to do things differently now. Family skeletons, societal skeletons, all of it. We look. We ask good questions. We change.

Ask the next question. Listen, Look. See. Sense. Feel. Consider the data. Let it ripple through you.

Give yourself time for this process. It's okay to breathe, pause, and allow space into the process.

Are you asking questions about a culture, a person, or a theory? That’s going to require you to reflect. If you aren’t going to reflect, it is simply white noise, a thing you read or heard. Just more data clogging your processor. Data is energy, and always in motion.

If information is just taking up space in your mental hard drive, the best question to ask is WHY you don't want to go deeper. Depending on your response, you'll either ditch it or dig in deeper.

Is that what you want? Or do you want it to touch your life in a deeper, more direct way?


Don’t just go to Wikipedia or YouTube to look up a subject and stop there. That information is often commentary upon commentary upon commentary.

What is it bringing up in you that needs further exploration? Why are you curious? What are you avoiding?

Go to First Sources

External First Sources are the original findings, reports, research, documents, and recordings.

Internal First Source is YOU. As in your own inner Guidance, Wisdom, Intuition, Senses.

Second Sources are simply commentaries. At some point, you may realize that everything is a second source.

And ask yourself, “Why is this curious for me? Why do I want to know more?”

  1. Experiment. Put what you’ve discovered into action and see what arises. A friend said to me last night, “I didn’t even know the questions I needed to ask. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Now she does, and she is better prepared to help others in the same situation.
  2. Don’t run away when it is uncomfortable. Ask, “Why is this uncomfortable? Why does it make me mad? What is triggering some deep emotion or total boredom in me?” Be an adventurer into the deep.

What questions do you have for me? Leave them in the comments.


Join us for Let's Write Together ! We write. We share. We do it again.

Our July 2023 sessions are:

  • Saturday, July 8th at 10 AM Central Time
  • Sunday, July 23 at 10 AM Central Time

From my heart to yours,

Andrea Mai ~ Dao Wei