I suck at story-telling.
Okay, maybe I don’t suck but I could definitely be better.
I came to this realization while reading Made to Stick – a book that explores why some ideas are so pervasive and sticky while others go absolutely nowhere. The book is a good read – I’m reading it for work, very obviously to anyone that knows me as this is CLEARLY not a work of science/fantasy/fiction – but it’s held my attention pretty well.
One part in particular that has me thinking is how we all tend to respond to simple, engaging stories more than anything else. As a writer, I don’t think I do such a good job at this. Hell, as a talker, a general human being engaging with other human beings on a daily basis, I really don’t do well at telling stories. I get self-conscious, I think…something about holding other people’s attentions and judging judging judging whether or not they actually want to hear what I’m saying (the answer 90% of the time: no). I just end up talking ABOUT things a lot – never going into too much detail, never giving rich descriptions, never just relishing in telling the story of it all.
I’ve always had a penchant for acting. I performed a lot in high school, and though I didn’t do anything with it during college or beyond (regret number #34654968), I still find opportunities to jump into some kind of performance and play a part. There is something really natural about it for me; the words are there, the audience is there, and my job is to bring a spirit to the story. I disappear – no self-consciousness or worry. I’m just in the story. It isn’t a story I’ve created, but it’s a story I can create with how I speak, how I look, what I do.
And maybe that’s why I’m good at it – because it’s not mine. I don’t have to worry about the “me” part of the story. I just have to be whatever is already there.
Welp, I’ve been wanting to create something that’s “mine” for, oh, I don’t know, forever now, so I think it’s time to work on storytelling. I think the “Life in Song” bits will help. I also think I need to get back into fiction (which at one point and time I wasn’t all that bad at – this coming from a serial self-criticizer).
PS, for all you writers or would-be writers, I came across this on Daniel Pink’s Twitter – 105 Writing Tips from Professional Writers. . Lots of really good stuff here – even though I am currently in violation of #105. Damn.