Storytelling

I am not a natural storyteller. For example, pretend you and I attend the same event, eat the same food, then laugh and cry at the same experiences. Later, when each of then recreates those moments, your version of the evening will hold the audiences attention more than my version.

Trust me.

Your story will have momentum and suspense. You will bait your audience to listen. My story will sound like a high school essay with a topic sentence, followed by two to three facts. My audience will be questioning why they are paying attention to a story that lacks tbe building blocks of storytelling – a great anecdote and a moment of reflection.

Great stories happen to great storytellers. Mediocre stories happen to mediocre storytellers.

WHO WANTS TO BE MEDIOCRE FOREVER?

I’m struggle through this storytelling process rather than quitting. Although this doesn’t mean I stopped procrastinating. More than likely it will take producing a large volume of work before creating something that’s halfway decent. I’m listening to the advice of others in the meantime.

I’ve never picked up the book The Artist’s Way, so I can’t tell you much more than what was passed on to me. Try practicing something called Morning Pages, which is just like it sounds.

  • Wake up each morning and hand write 500 words, about 3 pages.
  • It doesn’t matter what’s written, if it’s good, bad, or ugly. Just write.
  • You write for practice, not for final drafts.

During a recent road trip I listened to a few You Tube clips featuring Ira Glass from This American Life. His advice on storytelling mentions that stories will be “more compelling if you just talk like a human being.” As an example, he played a recording of a story he taped a solid eight years into his career. He then went on to criticize his own work as his voice unnecessarily emphasized every third word. You have to fight your way through it in order to sound natural, and forget those bad habits you picked up in high school.

Glass also advises that:

  • It takes more time to find a story than to report it
  • It’s important to know when to abandon crap
  • Don’t always talk about yourself
  • Failure is part of success

All sounds like good advice, and again, not something one typically receives with a formal education.

Watercolor sketch, 4”x4”, 25 minutes. Building entry in New Orleans.

Original post | 2015