Seriously, though, have you? I love sharing my adventures in storytelling, but I don’t do it for me. I’m doing it to empower you to have your own. That’s why I’m here, in your inbox, each week. A part of me is hopeful and expectant and giddy at the thought of you sitting down and crafting a story in whatever medium you work with.
So. When was the last time you shared a story?
You know that I know that you have a story in you. And I actually trust and believe you have many. I also believe strongly that storytelling is about connection. So, it’s great to have a story in you, but the magic happens, and culture is shaped and reshaped when you do the work of sharing it. But I know it’s not easy. Whether it’s your resume, launching a new brand or creating a piece of art, starting is often the hardest part. At least it is for me.
These are the three steps I take every time I start a new story. I used it just this past weekend to finish a fun new project I can’t wait to share with you. Hopefully my process will help you get started sharing your magic with the world.
Schedule it. This first step is important. As a former journalist I am motivated by a deadline. So I schedule a deadline for myself. You may be more motivated by having a chunk of time blocked off in your calendar to work. Whatever works best for you, just put it in your calendar. For my project I gave myself a deadline to have a draft to share. I wrote it in my calendar a month ago and knew that in between the other things I had on the go, I needed to finish that draft.
Daydream about it. Seriously. Imagine what it could be. What it might lead to, how it will come together? After I schedule it, I leave space to do nothing—well, nothing active. Daydreaming is an important part of my process. I imagine the future of the brands I’m helping create, what the space they’ll occupy will look like. I think about the customers they’ll influence and how the brand will improve their experience of the world. For my fiction, I spend time with the character, I think about their journey and the moments that matter most for them (plot points). With a resume or LinkedIn page I think about my history and what I want my future to look like career-wise. I go wide and I go big. The sky’s the limit and it costs nothing to daydream. This is my mind playing with possibility and subconsciously stitching together the story. It’s work, but it isn’t work and I often get to the point where I’m so excited by the possibilities that I can’t help but sit down and start to put it down on paper—I’m eager to the point of desperation to get the story out so I can share it with the world.
Accept that it might suck (at first). The final step is an important one. I’m a big fan of the messy first draft. It’s inevitable for me in my process. I factor it in when I’m scheduling. I know I’m going to have to go back and review, revise and rewrite. It’s part of the process. But what it does is take some of the pressure of starting. It won’t be good at first. Great. Let’s just start and see where the editing takes us. Deep breath; dive in.
So if there’s a story you’ve been thinking about and maybe even dreading. Try this approach. And I hear you on the dread—I love the work I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stare down the barrel of having to do it and break out in a bit of an uncomfortable sweat. Telling our story isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. I’ve never regretted sitting down and just starting. In fact, I love that full feeling of having accomplished a bit of magic—it’s like a drug to me and better than $1-million dollars in my bank account.
Let me know in the comments if there’s a story you’ve been sitting on and if today’s the day you schedule a deadline or some work time for yourself to get started. As a favourite storyteller of mine, Marie Forleo says (and I treat like a prayer), “progress not perfection.”
A Story Well Told
I know I shared a pile of books with you last week, but I can’t not share this one. I just finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. My word. That book. It reconfigured my brain. It’s an experience of the world utterly foreign to me yet so familiar that I was just consumed by the ideas in it. It’s about identity and about who we are and who we choose to be and how people see us versus how we see ourselves. It was like the experience of a funhouse mirror brought to life and it blew my mind. It had me thinking about story structure and character in entirely new ways. How could I not share? If you read it or have read it, let me know what you think. I’m obsessed to understand how others received it.
Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week. Whatever the world may bring, there will always be important stories that need you to tell them. I’ll be here to help.
Also, if you’re enjoying this or if there’s something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’m here to help.