How to Become Obsessed with Storytelling
The World's Oldest Tradition
“An obsession with untold stories is a source of energy.”
— Greil Marcus
Storytelling is the world's oldest tradition and the most important craft to master in 2022.
You can create a groundbreaking new product or overcome a turbulent series of events; But, if you don't know how to tell the story of your product or frame your experiences in a way that connects with audiences
— the story falls flat.
When a comedian tells a story, they're not the only storyteller in the room. Every single audience member will have their own unique outlook and experience with the show which will inform their own story. There's also the story of the night. How did the show go? Who rocked it? Who stunk up the stage? There's heroes and villains. Wins and losses. Drama and alleviation.
If you want to know how to become obsessed with storytelling you need to know a secret first...
The Audience is Already Obsessed with Storytelling
Think of storytelling as a universal human language. It's a part of who we are as a species. Entire cultures are built upon the story of their people. What they created and what they overcame.
It helps to keep this in mind when approaching your audience. They live and breathe and love a good story. You just need to make sure you're telling the right story to the right audience. Knowing your audience is 90% of the battle.
Here are our 4 tips on becoming obsessed with storytelling:
1) Listen To Stories From Other People
Typically, this is where the obsession starts. You hear someone knock a story out of the park and you want to do the same. The best learners are those who consume at a great volume. Read books, listen to podcasts and audio books, attend live performances, watch unique specials like In and Of Itself or a storytelling series like This Is Not Happening.
Read to collect the dots, write to connect them pic.twitter.com/YbgnKKFUNn— David Perell (@david_perell) July 5, 2021
The spectrum of storytelling is vast and differentiates between styles and mediums. The first step to finding your own voice is paying attention to others who are at that milestone you're looking to hit.
What about their storytelling style is distinctly their own? How did they come to develop their voice? Did they always sound like this? How has their worldview changed over time?
Indulge in interviews and video essays about these creators/speakers/artists/leaders/etc and take your mental notes on what you agree with, what you don't, what you would do differently or what you like to do similarly.
That's why that David Perell tweet is so spot on. When you take in the information, it becomes new to you, and then filtered through your own personal lens. The best way to connect the dots is by writing it down.
2) Collect Your Stories By Writing Them Down
Whether you want to be a better storytelling professionally or personally it's important to take inventory of your ideas. Write down everything. Write what you know, what you would like to talk about, how you want to connect with others, etc. But you also want to make sure you're writing down any observations you make when listening to the stories of others.
Did you appreciate the speaker used vocal tone to convey drama or did you appreciate a colour palette that spoke louder about a brand's image than actual words?
Mitch Hedberg was the king of writing everything down. You might remember this joke:
“I write jokes for a living, I sit at my hotel at night, I think of something that's funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain't funny.”— Mitch Hedberg - Mitch All Together
But it wasn't just a joke. Mitch Hedberg was the perfect example of being a student of life. He observed, wrote it down and thought about it. Sometimes, those thoughts became jokes.
Inspiration for comedians and writers - a page from one of Mitch Hedberg’s notebooks.— Lynn (@Shawcroft) July 3, 2021
A couple of jokes on the page before they hit the stage - and some ideas .
Mitch documented his life by writing everything down. #mitchhedberg #writing pic.twitter.com/yGbPXIFf25
Write everything down.
3) Don't Be Afraid To Experiment
The secret to a good story is a good storyteller. You don't find your voice, or the right voice for the intended audience, without experimenting and challenging your own ideas. And you certainly don't find your voice by staying silent.
This is where it helps to bounce your ideas off of others. Maybe a story that's failing on stage is better condensed to 1 minute TikTok form told highlight-style. Maybe the story of your product is better told through customer testimonies than flashy Instagram ads.
Do the best you can with skills you have. Retain humility. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take some risk. Experiment. Share.— billionaire_secrets (@billionaire_key) March 22, 2022
It's common to feel creative paralysis over knowledge gaps. Maybe you have an incredible idea for a Youtube video but you've never operated a camera before. Or you want to start your own Resume Template business but have never sold something online before. You just need to say yes to yourself. That you're going to jump in, be comfortable with the uncomfortable and figure it out as you go.
4) Don't Be Afraid Of Fear
Fear holds creatives back. Fear of the unknown, fear of not being good enough, fear of failing in front of others. There's a scene in The Good Dinosaur of all movies that's my go-to reference for our relationship with fear.
This sums it up:
Lean in. Don't let fear hold you back because then you're doing a disservice to the story inside of you that's waiting to be told. It's okay to experience false starts as long as you're starting.
Are you an obsessive storyteller? What kind of stories do you love to tell? What's your medium? Are you a comedian? A copywriter? A developer? Everyone has a story only they can tell. If ever you get the chance to tell your story, make sure to tell us on Twitter! We love to hear it!
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