Telling Your Story

 An interview for a writing project (2014)

An interview for a writing project (2014)

It can be hard to tell your own story.

I’ve been writing in multiple venues for years, in addition to helping others write for their websites and blogs. There often comes a point when writing, particularly when it’s about yourself, can start to feel like a burden. The effort of choosing a story to tell and then actually getting it down on the page gets too overwhelming or exhausting to even begin.

After all, isn’t it a bit ironic that, as a writer, I’ve been slow to update this blog space?

I work with people who have incredible stories to tell. People pursuing all kinds of different passions and goals who are sometimes working through difficult circumstances to do so. They’ll make a commitment to blogging about their art or business, knowing that a blog can invite people into their stories and build a sense of connection.

But then they won’t keep up with their blog.

If you’re developing as an artist or maintaining a business or launching a new career, trying to get those experiences down in writing is often one thing too many. It’s hard to know what will be interesting or relevant or not feel too scary to share. It’s hard to catch enough free time to even get a grasp on how you feel about it all, much less to outline, draft, edit, and publish an articulate and insightful blog post on the subject.

I love working with people who are stuck in this space.

I recently worked with a life coach who had let her blog lapse since January. She’d gone through a series of business and life transitions, and while she was still expanding her vision as a coach, she hadn’t been able to get those stories down on paper.

We had a 40 minute phone call in which we talked through her recent experiences and the lessons she’s taken from them. We talked about how this applies to life coaching in general and to understanding transition moments specifically. We briefly walked through what personal aspects she was and was not comfortable sharing with her blog audience.

Then I created three blog posts for her, each exploring a different aspect of her recent experiences.

Instead of being stuck by herself in front of a computer, these blog posts began as conversations. They emerged from tangents and connections and a series of insights that grow from focused questions and genuine enthusiasm for a topic. Instead of trying to edit her experiences to fit the written page, she simply told me her stories as one does to any interested listener.

As an outsider, it’s easy for me to jump into the most compelling parts of a story. Together we found the connections and lessons and the links to bigger concepts. And then I could write it all down with an eye to both her genuine voice and to the bigger picture goals of engaging an audience and inviting connection.

I love doing this kind of writing. When I’m working with other people’s stories, I have the chance to play with a narrative that’s outside of myself, knowing only what I’ve been told and already having the audience reaction in mind.

I’ve done a variation on this process with many different ‘genres’ of stories. I’ve written in this way for a photographer and a shipbuilding company. For a bed and breakfast and a jeweler. For a media company, an MBA program, an organization working with former inmates, a pop band, and a watch manufacturer.

Whoever we are, our stories matter. We know that, and we want to share these experiences with others.

Sometimes we just need a hand in the telling. 

 

PS If you're interested in learning more about this, check out my Work With Me page. I'd be so interested to see what stories we could tell together!