Storytelling is Everywhere
Everything is a story. How we communicate with each other is a form of storytelling. When you come home from work and talk about your day with your significant other, it's a story. Jokes are a stories. An email to a co-worker is a story. It's innate. You may not think you're a storyteller, but too bad. You are.
Good and Bad Storytelling
How we tell a story says a lot about who we are as much as the content of the story itself. We all know someone who can tell a great joke. They have the delivery down. They know how to set it up. They know when to deliver a punchline. In that realm, they are great at storytelling.
We know other people who cannot send a proper email in a professional setting. ALL CAPS. A multitude of unnecessary exclamation points!!!!!! (The email may start in) the middle of a sentence. A few f***ing crass words in there, almost like they're typing as they talk, you know?
Yes. Storytelling. Only not very good. It's possible to be a bad storyteller. But a storyteller, nonetheless.
A Skill To Learn and Develop
Storytelling is s skill that can be learned, but requires creativity to be enhanced. All those years ago, when our teachers and parents told us that we can be anything that we want, just use your imagination.
I invite you to revisit that idea. Just because we're older, doesn't mean our imagination goes away. Once you allow yourself to access that creative side of you, the next step is to think about your audience. The readers. The listeners. The viewers. Whatever the medium, who is your writing intended for.
An email to a co-worker, asking for clarification on an email campaign?
A listener to your podcast about the latest movie release?
An informational how-to video on how to be a storyteller? (Whoa!)
Step back and think about these in storytelling terms. How do you present it? What's your tone? Do you know your intended audience personally? How would they respond to your storytelling choices?
Why Am I Talking About Storytelling?
I'm dealing with these same questions about a potential project of mine. Throughout my storytelling career, I've been writing stories set in and around working at a movie theater. We created the movie Save the Forest back in 2003, about a group of employees trying to save their movie theater from the wrecking ball. We did the web series, Scenes from the Movies, based on true-to-life stories taken from working at a movie theater for so many years. So, so many years. I've written a play — May 19, 1999 — set around customers in line for the opening night of Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
There are many other unpublished, unfinished stories that have a connection to a movie theater. But what I think I'm leading toward is a pseudo memoir of my time working at movie theaters. We're talking from 1993-2020. At first I was intent on writing a straight-up memoir about me. That changed to a mix of my experiences and those experiences of other employees, through a series of interviews that I'd pepper throughout the book. Now, I'm thinking of a podcast.
I have these stories to tell, but I'm not sure of the medium to use. These are where all those questions about storytelling keep flooding my mind. What's the best way to present my story and the story of others?
Reignite that Imagination
I think it's important to revisit something I mentioned earlier. When we were kids, we're told to dream big. Use our imagination and shoot for the stars. (Something to that effect) And when we get older, that message fades. We have to grow up! We have to make money! We have responsibilities!
Don't get me wrong, I like money, too. I know maturity cannot be avoided.
But I refuse to let my imagination die. Dreams change, yes. Some dreams lead to our purpose. People who want to be famous actors may discover a passion in teaching others the craft of acting. Which may lead to a career, professionally coaching of executives who are looking for ways to improve their performance when during speaking engagements.
We all still have the capability of being creative. Our imaginations don't die. They just get ignored. All it takes is one tiny spark to reignite our creativity. And stay positive! Have fun! Enjoy it all!
You're a storyteller. Just like me.