By JENNY PRUITT CLEVELAND
You have a story that needs telling. (Yes, that story, the one that just popped into your head. And that one. And that one.)
No one can tell your story better than you. No one can tell it the way you can. And nothing can connect you more fully to the rest of humanity than your story – told by the real you, with all the ego, fear and self-concern peeled away.
Is your story a sad one? Is it a story of shame that’s weighing on your shoulders? Is it a love story so powerful you have to grip something nearby to know you’re not actually floating? Is it a story of epic failure or triumph, or both at once?
Of all the things you can do on this earth, few are more valuable than telling your story.
You can tell your story in little snippets every day. Or in more comprehensive ways, on paper, in video.
Steven Pressfield, in Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, says that as powerful as our own inner resistance, our own self-sabotage is, “so is the powerful, creative force we call the Muse. Sit down. Open the faucet. The stuff that will appear, sometimes anyway, will exceed your fondest visions. You will stare down at it and exclaim, ‘Where in the world did that come from?’”
I believe that. And I, for one, want to hear your story. That’s why I can’t stop talking about The Moth’s inaugural StorySLAM coming to Nashville Sunday, April 8, 7:30 pm.
The Moth’s radio podcast and live events speak my language. They celebrate humanity’s diversity and commonality through the practice of storytelling. Their mission is to create a more compassionate world where every story matters.
At StorySLAM, ten storytellers are selected at random and given five minutes to tell a story centered around a common theme. Nashville’s inaugural StorySLAM theme is FIRSTS:
“Prepare a five-minute story about your maiden voyage into uncharted territory. Wax on about your first: standing ovation, miserable failure, kiss, child, crisis of conscience, job, pet, toupee, trip overseas, exorcism, internet date, grandchild or fist fight. Grand openings, birth order, wild initiations, or milestones reached.”
Whether you want to tell your story into the StorySLAM microphone at Basement East, or over dinner with your son, here are three quick storytelling tips:
1) Start it with a hook. A great first line dives into the middle of the action, grabs our attention, and makes us want to hear the rest of the story.
2) Build it with some stakes. The higher the stakes, the higher our emotional involvement. Think your story doesn’t have stakes? Think again. That story that needs telling – the one that scares you when you think of telling it – its stakes are high because it reveals the real you.
3) Kill it with a last line you can hear clearly before you ever start the telling.
Jenny Pruitt Cleveland is a Content Creator in Nashville, Tenn. She swims, bikes, and runs a lot. In former lives she’s been a middle school teacher, magazine reporter and editor, cycling tour guide, and underwater photographer.