Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ask the storyteller: Listen to the world around you

I taught a storytelling class recently and started, as I always do, with listening. Afterwards one of my students asked me, "What do you mean when you say storytelling starts with listening? I get that we need to have people listen to us, but what about before?" I realized I hadn't done a good job explaining.

What follows was originally posted in this blog waaayy back in 2008. I've rewritten portions but it still stands. I will adjust the way I reach listening but for now? Listen. Listen to the world around you. There are stories in the birdsong, in the rain spatter, in the overheard.

*     *     *



Listen beyond your own inner monologue and the hum of the computer and your to-do list.

Take a moment and just listen to what's happening around you. What do you hear?

It can be hard to just listen, whether to your environment, to a selected sound such as music, to ourselves, or to another person. We're so accustomed to our own running monologues or to filling our environments with other sounds that when we take the time to just listen, it can be a little overwhelming. Yet this experience can lead to a transcendental moment, to a deeper understanding of another person or our own selves.

I listen a lot.
I listen to other people. I listen some to music, though less so since Kevin died. I listen to the natural world. I listen to the hums and rumbles of everything surrounding me. I listen to myself again, to see what might have changed. I've always been a listener, but even more now. I listen to the world to find myself, to find echoes of Kevin, to be reminded that I am not alone.

You already know I'm a storyteller, that I create my own works of fiction and non-fiction and perform them in front of live audiences. Well, good storytelling comes out of listening to the audience. More than that, it comes out of being listened to deeply prior to the performance. More than that, it comes out of listening to the world around you to find those kernels that become stories in the first place. Storytelling is an act of listening.

If storytelling is my life's work, as I believe it to be, then listening is also my life's work. Helping others learn how to listen and understand the impact of deep listening is part of that work.

Listen. Don't interrupt. What do you hear? What does it call upon you to say? What happens when you listen then speak for the world?

(c) 2008 Laura S Packer

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

No comments:

Post a Comment

True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
Related Posts with Thumbnails