Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ask the Storyteller: Five things to do when you can't go outside

This edition of #askthestoryteller is an edited repost from winter, 2011. I am often asked how novice tellers can improve their storytelling practice. I'm not talking about performance, but all of the hard work leading up to it.

Here are five suggestions to improve your practice when it's just too cold and miserable to go outside. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere warm, these are still good ideas!

I'm looking for more Ask the Storyteller questions. What do you want to know?

The following was originally published in a slightly different form in 2011.

We're deep in the heart of winter  in the Northern hemisphere. These short, cold days and long dark nights lead me to nesting behavior. I just don't want to go outside when it's 10F with 2 feet of snow on the ground. I know, I'm a wimp, but this offers me a chance to hunker down and do some of the hard behind-the-scenes storytelling work.

Here are five suggestions for deepening your storytelling practice that don't include performing for an audience.
  1. Learn something new, part 1. How about adding a traditional tale to your repertoire? If nothing else, reading some of the old stories will remind of you that people haven't changed very much in the last 10,000 years. The same things still matter to us, it's just at a more frantic pace. You might learn something about yourself or find a piece you'd like to tell or alter.
    There are many great online resources full of traditional stories.
  2. Learn something new, part 2. The internet has many wonderful other resources available for you to explore.
    • Explore the resources at your local library. Most public libraries have their catalogs available online and offer electronic resources. Many will allow you to hold a book that you can pick up later, when it's warmer. Try a catalog search for storytelling with children, for example. Or some other topic that interests you. See what you can find!
    • Learn about a new kind of storytelling. Check out the site for an organization that does something you'd like to tell about. Do you care about marine life? Go to the Cousteau Society and see how they tell their story. How would you tell that same story? What about digital storytelling? Or stand-up comedy?
    • Read an article by someone you admire. Many storytellers maintain blogs or archives of their advice. Go to their websites and poke around. 
  3. Listen to some stories, watch some storytellers in action. What about trying a youtube search for storytelling? Maybe your favorite festival has videos online from previous years?
  4. Hone your craft. There's no time like the present to work on your own skills as a storyteller and business owner.
    • How about telling a story in your living room, recording it and then going over the recording? What was great? What could be eliminated or fleshed out?
    • Work on a new idea. Jot down some notes, call a friend and aks them to brainstorm with you.
    • When was the last time you updated your webpage, resume, myspace, facebook or linkedin pages?
    • Send a few emails to organizations where you'd like to tell.
    • Update your basic press release.
  5. Tell someone a story. Do you live with room-mates, family, friends? Do you have a telephone? You can always reach out and tell someone a story. Maybe even more importantly, you can listen to their story. Ask them to tell you a story. You might be amazed at what happens.
    These cold, dark days are a gift. We have the chance to pull into our shells and do some housekeeping, catch up with ourselves. Savor the time.

    (c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

    1 comment:

    1. Sadly, Inter-Library Loan got snowed in (or out), my books are coming in at a snail's pace. :D But I am already in the grasshopper stance to pounce on Tales of the Marvellous next week, and Turnip Princess in two weeks. :)


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