There’s a question I always ask to help innovators find and release their stuck stories:
What’s the story you’re NOT telling?
But even more importantly is the follow-up to that question:
Yes, THAT story.
Because what inevitably happens next is that a story pops into their mind, and they reflexively reject it. “Oh God,” they think, “not that story. Anything but that one.”
But that story, my friends, is exactly the one you need to tell. Because it’s the one that’s taking up precious real estate in your head, when it could be out there helping others cope with a similarly unpleasant experience.
Everything in life can be roughly divided into two categories: a good time, or a good story. Our most embarrassing, humiliating, demoralizing, rock-bottom moments are the most relatable to others. Because we all know what that feels like.
When I was writing Release Your Masterpiece, I knew I was going to need to open with a personal story. Something pretty real and raw that would both convey my contentious relationship with, and demonstrate the power and importance of, authenticity in storytelling.
But when I actually sat down to write, the story that immediately popped into my mind made me physically cringe. Was I really going to tell that story? Publicly??
Ugh. Taking your own advice sucks, y’all. But I did it. I fought through the cringe, and not only wrote that story, I wrote an entire chapter full of stories that did NOT paint me in a flattering light.
And when it came time to send out Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of the book, I breathed through the renewed panic that welled up, preparing myself for the flood of judgment that was sure to follow.
But that isn’t what happened. In fact, just about all of the responses specifically mentioned “Authenticity” as their favorite chapter, and THAT story as the one that made them laugh out loud, made them cry, and stayed with them after the fact.
So, what story are YOU not telling?
Yes, THAT one.
Even if you don’t choose to share it publicly, I highly recommend writing it down, just to get it out of your head. And if you DO decide to share it, pay close attention to who responds positively. Those are your people! That is your team.
Looking for a safe space to share your stories? Come join the Innovator's Guild, trade pages with fellow writers, and/or deliver your stories aloud to a live audience at one of our free Storytelling workshops!
Adrienne MacIain, Ph.D.