Earlier this week, I was asked about my writing style.
“What types of writing are you most comfortable with?” they asked me.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a very simple answer to this question. I’ve done a lot of different types of writing in my career, from reporting to opinion to marketing, public relations and social media. And they all boil down to the same answer.
I like to tell stories. Every person, business and brand has a story to tell. Finding that story and telling it to others is where I both find my best writing and find myself enjoying it the most.
That’s not a new concept. In fact, I’m probably the 4,387th person you’ve heard that from.
For a while, I thought that made me blend into the crowd. There are too many other people that tell stories out there much better than I do.
And then I realized during an event over the weekend that it’s not possible to have too many people telling stories. It’s part of who we are as humans.
I was a participant in a workshop on early Saturday morning geared towards directors of children’s choirs in churches in Middle Tennessee. (Yes, I actually work with 1st and 2nd graders for an hour every week. If you ever want to get pushed out of your comfort zone, take on a small commitment like working with children or seniors or “insert your uncomfortable demographic here”. Yes, you’ll teach, but you’ll learn a whole lot more. But that’s another post in and of itself.)
So I’m in this room with about 40 other adults – some college-aged, some middle aged, some nearing retirement age. Some are experts in dealing with children. Others have little to no experience. We spent most of the morning learning with and from each other. We had lunch and shared stories and suggestions for managing our classrooms.
And then we changed rooms … and played music games.
Yes, music games. The ones where you sashay down the alley and hold hands in a circle and move to the left (no, your other left!) and make stars and do-si-dos and sugar bowls. (If you don’t know what a sugar bowl is, it’s what the last group position is called while doing “Draw Me a Bucket of Water,” which you can watch a group of students do here. While our version was a little bit different, you get the idea.)
And 40 adults were children again for an hour, making total fools of ourselves. There was a lot of laughter, singing and clapping … and scrambling to get caught up. (We’re not all as, umm, mobile as we were in our younger days … and trying to get to the middle to swing our partners and stay in rhythm was not as simple as it sounds!)
After we’d wound down for the afternoon and were packing up to go, our instructor told us why she taught us those games, not just by telling us about it, but making us do it. These song games are part of our history. If we don’t teach young children how to make sugar bowls – and the songs and games that go along with that – we will lose a good portion of our history. Let’s be honest – there aren’t too many people left who remember how to do this stuff.
And that’s when I realized – there is no such thing as having too many storytellers. We all need to tell stories – whether they’re our own, or ones that have been passed down to us. Or the stories of our clients. Our friends. Our organizations.
Stories are and still will be important. And you and I need to tell them. It’s not an overused answer to the question.