Got something to say? Here’s how to get started on the road to self-expression
For most of my teens and twenties, I longed to write Something Great, but as soon as I sat down with a pen and pristine notebook I stalled. The truth was that I had nothing to say, yet. Or so I thought.
Now, looking back with middle-aged understanding, I know that wasn’t true. I had plenty to write about, living through teenage dramas and those life-forming twenties. I wish I’d recorded those stories from my early years. I might have, if I’d learned some simple truths earlier.
If, like me, you feel called to create something, but aren’t sure how to start, here are five strategies you can try:
1. Go do something
Get out and experience the world. You don’t have to hike Newfoundland’s T’Railway or coexist with orangutans for a year: just leave the house. Walk around the block.
Pay attention to your senses: smell, taste, touch, sounds. The weather, the light. Notice the buildings, the people, the graffiti, the litter.
Treat yourself to your favourite beverage at a cafe or pub, find a seat in the middle of the action and listen to the other tables. Pay attention to what the people around you are doing: is the server happy at work? Does she like her customers? That group of friends: do they all get along, or is there tension there?
Everyone has a story. Ask a coworker what’s going on in their life, and don’t interrupt with your own dramas. Make small talk with strangers. Visit a family member. Is there a phrase they use that catches your ear? An image or detail that excites you? A metaphor they don’t see? A way of speaking or communicating that is unique, such as a verbal tic (“you know”) or facial expression?
How does this help get your own story out?
It’s human nature to think we’re rare and special, and yet at the same time not understand how rare and special we actually are. When we remind ourselves of The Big Picture, we’re able to see how we fit into it. We’re better positioned to identify how exactly our story is unique, and why others might benefit from hearing it.