The Child’s Art of Storytelling
Children are fabulous storytellers.
They have the most interesting opening lines like, “You know, there was a lion.” As soon as you ask about said lion the story rambles on. The intriguing part is that you never know what will happen next because more often than not neither does the storyteller. They make it up as they go along, tell little jokes, and can be very animated. When you tell them that it’s time wo wrap it up, they hurriedly think up a satisfying conclusion, and feel really good about it at the end.
We sometimes wish we could approach storytelling like a child. Just let loose and do a thought dump on the sheet. But to be honest, why shouldn’t we? There is no need to publish what is written; it’s important to get it out first. Tell the story in its raw, unadulterated state, let it take its own course and discover where it goes. Following this method is a great strategy for those times that are especially uninspiring.
Why the need to ramble?
Consistency. When your business depends on the strong content you deliver to your customers, you need to make sure that you are consistent with your words. Whether it is a weekly blog post, an email newsletter, or even a Facebook update, if your customers are expecting to hear from you every Wednesday, you have to make sure you’re in their inbox or newsfeed on that day. We all have moments when inspiration runs dry or words elude us, but we can’t neglect those that keep the business going.
Those are the times when you let the walls down and take on the uninhibited abandon of a child. Some stories just need to tell themselves and it’s okay to let them flow and take shape on their own. And yet it doesn’t have to be completely random, if you maintain a blog or a newsletter with a certain theme, you can have an idea of what you want to say. You might not be able to find the right words to get started, so just put your thoughts down. Ramble on. Getting started is the hard part but once the first few words are out, the rest just flow.
As we mentioned earlier, you don’t need to publish the first thought dump. Like the child who is hurried into finishing a story, you too can put down a hasty conclusion and the stop and read. This is where you start to reel it in. As you read over your thoughts you start to see things more clearly. You can clear away the unnecessary bits, refine a few sentences, and even reach a different conclusion. Some of your thoughts might confuse you and you might need to ponder them further before you can explain them to others; this is all part of the process.
The end result could be a succinct, thought-provoking post that engages your audience the way you hoped. Or it might be an easy to read but interesting piece whose impact lies in its honesty and simplicity. What is important is that you churned out content even when you were not feeling it, when you couldn’t find the right topic, or when you would have preferred to binge-watch something on Netflix. You got it done.
When words run dry start with, “you know, there was a lion”, or whatever thoughts are passing through your head at the moment. You might find wisdom in those thoughts or putting them in words could help to clear the clutter and streamline your process better. The point is to not hold back, tell the story as it already exists in the labyrinths of your mind, express the thoughts and the feelings as they come to you, and words will fill the empty page.