Stories flutter around me like butterflies, darting around – each unique. I find storytelling is enjoyed by both the teller and the reader/listener. Over the past several years, I have become more and more passionate about everyone taking the time to write and share their stories. My motto is “Everyone has a story to tell — and they should.” I have taken a long and winding path to this point and plan to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Please join me for a casual excursion down Butterfly Drive, perhaps first as a reader — but I hope to encourage you to tell your story. I can hear your excuses as to why you haven’t yet written your stories, I’ve heard them time and time again.
Five excuses not to write and why they don’t apply to you
I’m not a writer.
I’m too old.
I don’t really remember that much.
I don’t know where to start.
Please, allow me to debunk these in turn with examples of other skeptics.
“I’m not a writer.” Nearly everyone I’ve worked with has at some point uttered this excuse. Even your favorite best-selling authors will tell you that stories don’t fall out of their pen. They work on them. You really do get better with practice and a few rounds of editing. You don’t have to write a full book when you start out — start with one short vignette, just a page or two. One of my favorite Christmas letter stories came from one of my senior writers, a retired nurse. Bev – every time we met she would say, often multiple times a session — “I’m not a writer.” She wrote a beautiful story of her husband’s last magical Christmas spent in the Smoky Mountains with family for a week in a winter wonderland without electricity. Her story, written from the heart, amazed her children. They loved her story so much, they insisted she write more stories.
If that “non-writer” can write a wonderful story, I’m betting you can write a good story also.
2. “I’m too old” never works with me, since my oldest senior writer (so far) was 99. Grace would write her stories out longhand and I happily typed them up for her. I met a gentleman who was 103 and hoped to work with him, but alas he passed away. Death is your only excuse not to write, please start to record your stories while you still can. I have over a dozen of Grace’s stories in my files, all of them delightful.
3. “I don’t remember that much.” One of my favorite projects (ok I admit - I like almost all story projects) was working with a lovely lady, who was suffering from memory loss. It was true when Rita said this. What made me particularly proud is that the story brought a smile to her face and caused her caregivers to look at her differently – with more respect.
She told me a little about her childhood, then I’d type it up. I returned another day to re-read what we had so far, reviewing it with her and asking questions. Over several “edit” sessions, we fleshed out the story. It took patience – but Rita told her story.
4. “Nobody’s interested.” This excuse breaks my heart because I know it is not true. Sure your kids may be busy with their lives and not seem to be interested – but trust me the day will come. One of my most faithful storytellers, Eileen, wasn’t sure her children would want to read her little stories. But after a year of monthly short stories, we collected them into folders for her annual “Up North” family vacation. I made sure we had a copy for each of her children and grandchildren that would be attending. When she returned, I asked, “So how did they like your stories??”
“Well,” she paused and sighed, keeping me hanging. “I’m afraid we have a problem.”
“What? What?” I refused to believe that her kids had taken any issue with her stories.
Her eyes started to twinkle and a grin crept over her face. “I need three more sets.” It seems that some out-of-state grandkids who were unable to join them that year had heard about the collection and wanted their own copies.
Eileen wrote her story in response to my explaining legacy letters and asking her group to write one of the own. I think you too will be able to know Eileen through this piece.
5. “I don’t know where to start.” Actually this excuse I don’t mind, because it indicates that you are ready to start. I certainly didn’t know where to start either. I just dove in. Over time, I think I have come up with some ideas that nearly everyone can start with to wade into writing.
I believe once you start, you will find yourself thinking of additional stories. If you start working on stories you will find people willing to help you, along with oodles and oodles of books on writing to offer suggestions. Future posts will deal with book recommendations.