Speak Up Storytelling #17: Robin Gelfenbien

Episode #17 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast is ready for your listening pleasure.

We start by talking about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." We talk about the Homework for Life submitted by a listener, and I offer up three Homework for Life moments from the week and discuss why one is better than another.

Next, we listen to Robin Gelfenbien's story about finding love with the help of Marie Kondo, then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of this fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener questions about storytelling in everyday life and offer some recommendations.

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you haven't rated and/or reviewed the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work.

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Speak Up Storytelling #15: Roquita Johnson

Episode #15 of Speak Up Storytelling is now available for your listening pleasure.

Elysha Dicks and I talk about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life," including moments that storytellers see but non-storytellers might not. 

Then we listen to Roquita Johnson's story about finding her calling, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. The components of an especially effective beginning to a story

  2. Outstanding use of dialogue in stories

  3. Variations in tonality

  4. "Seeing" your story

  5. The best moments to add description to a story

  6. Preserving surprise in a story

Then we answer listener questions about becoming emotional while telling a story, the past and present tense, and how to pitch a story to Speak Up.  

Lastly, we each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 60 or so people to rate and/or review the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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An anonymous note about a possible murder

I arrived at Kripalu, a yoga center in the Berkshires, on Sunday night with a bag full of my novels, magazine columns, and comic books. I spread them on the table for my students to see, and then I stuffed them back into the bag and tossed the bag into the corner of the room.

It sat in that corner, untouched, for a week.  

On Friday, I grabbed the bag as I was packing up to leave. Tucked into my copy of Storyworthy was a sheet of paper. Written on the paper was this: 

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Crazy. Right?

In addition to my ten students, the room had been used by several yoga classes, and on our final evening together, my students performed for a group of friends, family, and folks staying at Kripalu that week. I had also performed for a group of about 70 people earlier that week, telling stories and teaching lessons after each, including a lesson on the importance of telling stories. 

A lot of people on campus knew who I was, what I did, and where I could be found. 

There's no telling who left that note in my book or why.

But it seems as if the note might have been left for me and might apply to the work I do. In addition to our organization being called Speak Up, I spend enormous amounts of time convincing people that they have stories to share. Stories that need to be shared. Stories that the world wants to hear.  

This note would seem to fall along those lines. 

I cannot find a Rosalie Gomez who was murdered on the internet. Maybe this is referencing something that happened pre-internet. Maybe it's fiction. I have no idea who Rosalie Gomez might be or if she's even real. 

But I've often said that odd things happen when you begin telling stories. Strange coincidences. Surprising connections.

Earlier that week, while my friend and teaching assistant, Jeni, were swapping stories, we learned that I had been the DJ at her cousin's wedding 20 years earlier, and she had attended that wedding. She barely remembered the day, but I remembered a lot, including details that she couldn't believe I recalled.

"Just think," I said. "Twenty years ago, we were in the same room, at the same wedding. You were 17 and I was 27. Now we're sitting here today at a yoga center in the Berkshires as friends."

That kind of thing happens to me all the time. Tell a story to 100 or 200 or 500 people, and you will find someone in the audience who somehow connects to that moment for often than you would expect.

The world is a surprisingly small place.

But this note is beyond a simple coincidence or unexpected connection. It's something else. Perhaps a bit of fiction scribbled on a piece of paper and tucked into a book called Storyworthy on a whim.

Maybe something more. 

Sadly, I'll probably never know. 

Speak Up Storytelling #6: Special Storyworthy book launch episode

Episode #6 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

This week's special episode features live audio from the book launch for Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling.

In this episode, you'll hear me tell three BRAND NEW stories, never before told at Speak Up (and two never before told on any stage anywhere). followed by short lessons on the finding and crafting of stories. 

Next week we'll feature the second half of this book launch event, including two more BRAND NEW stories, Elysha's debut performance on ukulele, and the question-and-answer session from the evening.  

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 30 or so people to rate the podcast and 20 to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

It also makes Elysha smile. Isn't that incentive enough?

Speak Up Storytelling #5: Renata Sancken

Episode #5 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

On this week's episode, we talk about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." I describe how I discovered two important things about myself that apparently everyone else already knew. 

Next, we listen to a hilarious story by Renata Sancken about ghost hunting in the south. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener question about telling a good anecdote, and we each make a recommendation.  

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 15 or so people to rate the podcast and 11 to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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Speak Up Storytelling: The Podcast available today!

Elysha and I are thrilled to announce THE FIRST EPISODE OF OUR NEW PODCAST SPEAK UP STORYTELLING. 

Unlike most storytelling podcasts, which offer you one or more outstanding stories to listen to and enjoy, our podcast seeks to entertain while also providing some specific, actionable lessons on storytelling.

Each week we will bring our expertise in storytelling to you!  

In every episode, Elysha and I will listen to one of the many stories told and recorded at Speak Up over the last five years, followed by a lesson on storytelling based upon what we just heard. We'll talk about the effective strategies used by the storyteller. We'll offer tips on things like humor, stakes, transitions, suspense, and the ordering of content. We'll also suggest possible revisions to make the story even better.

Whether your goal is to someday take the stage and tell a story or simply to become a better storyteller in the workplace or your social life, this podcast is for you.  

In addition to story and instruction, we will also talk about finding stories in your everyday life, answer listener questions, offer recommendations, and try to make you laugh. We may also interview storytellers from time to time, as well as provide feedback on stories you submit to us. 

You can download the podcast wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher, Overcast, Google Play, or you can listen to the first episode here

We'd love to hear what you think about the podcast and any questions you'd like us to answer on the podcast, so please send any questions or comments to speakupstorytelling@gmail.com

We would also love for you to rate the show. Ratings help other listeners find the show, so please take one minute to jump over to Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen) and give us a rating and/or comment. 

This podcast has been a long time in the works. We hope you enjoy!

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A call to action! Please? Pretty please?

I'm writing to you today for a different kind of reason today. I hope you don't mind. And it's storytelling related. 

I have a book coming out on June 12. It's my first nonfiction title, and I'm excited and nervous. 

  • Excited because I've wanted this book to exist for a long time.
  • Nervous because it's a departure from my fiction. Something new. I don't want to fail miserably.

I need your help.  

The book is entitled Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling. It is a book about the art and craft of storytelling.

Part instructional guide, part memoir.

It's written for everyone, because over the past four years, I've discovered that everyone can utilize storytelling to their advantage.

  • People who want to perform at The Moth or a similarly styled storytelling show
  • Salespeople who want to connect with their customers
  • Presenters who want to connect and engage audiences
  • Ministers, priests and rabbis
  • Teachers, professors, and therapists
  • Yoga instructors, cooking instructors, and camp counselors
  • TV, radio, and podcast personalities
  • Attorneys
  • College and job Interviewees
  • Real estate agents
  • Nonprofit leaders and professional fundraisers
  • Politicians and activists
  • Archivists, museum docents, and curators
  • Grandparents who want their grandchildren to listen to them
  • People looking to get beyond the first date
  • Folks looking to make new friends or simply become more interesting

All of these people and more have taken my workshops to learn to tell a better story

A woman once attended a workshop because she wanted to make friends at work but couldn't seem to get anyone's attention. "I will never stand on a stage and tell a story. I just want to tell a better story at the cafeteria table."

Not only did storytelling help her make friends at work, but she went on to perform in our storytelling show and now tells stories as part of her job.

I've written this book for everyone. No matter who you are or what you do, storytelling can help you. 

A few testimonials:

"I laughed, gasped, took notes, and carried this book around like a dear friend—because that's exactly what a Storyworthy book should be. As a novelist, I've studied my craft in countless ways, but never before have I seen its marrow revealed with such honest, approachable charisma. Matthew Dicks has written a perceptive companion for every person who has a story to tell—and don't we all?" — SARAH McCOYNew York Times and international bestselling author of Marilla of Green Gables and The Baker's Daughter

“Matthew Dicks is dazzling as a storyteller and equally brilliant in his ability to deconstruct this skill and make it accessible for others.” ― David A. Ross, MD, PhD, program director, Yale Psychiatry Residency Training Program

"Offers countless tips, exercises, and examples to get you on your way to better stories. Anyone who wants to take the stage, become a better writer, or simply tell better stories at Thanksgiving, will benefit from Storyworthy.” ― Jeff Vibes, filmmaker

See? Seemingly intelligent, presumably real people endorse the book. If they like it, you will, too.

And now... how can you help:

1. Preorder the book. Preorders help to determine the size of the first printing and increase my chances of getting noticed right out of the gate. The book is currently available for about $10 via preorder. Please consider purchasing now and having it arrive on your doorstep in June. Buy a bushel, in fact. Give it as a gift. A graduation present. An awkward, unexpected projectile. I've been told that every time you preorder the book, an angel gets its wings. I don't know if that's true, but let's find out. 

You can preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your favorite indie bookstore. You can use these links below:

2. Tell your friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, and enemies about the book. Ask them to preorder. Share the links on social media. If you know of someone whose company or school or university might be interested in the book, pass on this information. Any and all buzz would be appreciated. 

Thanks so very much for your support. It means the world to me. Truly. Every writer needs readers and every storyteller needs an audience.

You have been remarkable in both regards. 

How I delivered an inspirational talk at a human trafficking conference (while knowing nothing about human trafficking)

I was speaking to some of my former storytelling students - children of Holocaust survivors who had gone through a workshop series with me  that culminated in a storytelling performance.

One of them told me, "Now I see stories everywhere. Everything is a story."

While I don't agree that everything is a story, I knew exactly what she meant. Our lives are filled with storyworthy moments. More than you would ever imagine. Those who mine their lives for these moments and develop them into a treasure-trove of stories constantly add depth and breadth to our lives and their own. 

We are the ones who remember our lives best. We remember our lives through story. 

But possessing so many stories has an added value. When you have a lot of stories, you have the potential to inspire, amuse, entertain, or change minds, regardless of circumstances. No matter the context or need, you'll always have something to say. 

A couple years ago, I was in Indiana, speaking and performing at a variety of events at college campuses in and around Purdue University. I spoke about storytelling, writing, and personal productivity, and I produced and hosted a story slam for students.

A large conference on human trafficking was also underway on campus. I was asked if I'd be willing to close the conference with a speech to the attendees. 

I agreed.

Two weeks before the speech, one of the organizers called and asked about my expertise in human trafficking.

"I have none," I said,

I'll never forget what he said:

"I guess that's what Google is for?" he said nervously. "Right?"

Wrong. 

It turns out that when you have a treasure-trove of stories, you can speak to almost any audience regardless of the topic, purpose, or need. 

Besides, after three days of speeches, breakout groups, and seminars on the topic of human trafficking, did his audience really want one more speech on human trafficking from a guy who had to conduct a Google search on the subject?

Instead, I told a funny story about how I helped a shy student emerge from her shell after years of withdrawal, and in doing so, I came to realize that although I had "saved" this one girl, there were many other shy, silent children who I had not, primarily because I had stopped trying. I had given up on them. I had presumed that someone else would come along and fix their problem. 

Once the story was finished, I explained that when engaged in important work like teaching or seeking to end human trafficking - people work - we can never give up. We can never quit. We cannot assume that someone else will solve the problems.

More importantly, we can't afford to act slowly. We are not making widgets or selling keepsakes. The quality of a human being's life is in our hands. The very last thing we can do is allow bureaucrats, politicians, and ineffective administrators tell us that meaningful change takes time. Institutional transition can't happen overnight. We can't allow ineffective leaders to tell us that large ships don't change their direction overnight. 

This might be fine if you're selling real estate, building furniture, or coding an app, but when you're dealing with the lives of human beings, these passive, placating statements cannot be allowed to stand. 

As a teacher, I cannot be slow to action when a child's future is at stake. I cannot stop trying to save a child simply because every tool in my belt has failed.

Like me, the people who work to end human trafficking cannot afford to move slowly. Cannot waste a moment of time. The people of the world who choose to make a career out of saving lives must be the fastest, hardest, most dedicated people possible. They must be red tape destroyers. Bureaucratic assassin. Fast moving missiles of good.

I knew nothing about human trafficking except that it was too important to not work like hell to bring it to an end. Happily, I had a story that applied similarly and was filled with stakes, humor, and heart. 

It went over very well. The organizer called me the following week to tell me that it was the only time all week that anyone laughed and that my message was heard loud and clear by conference attendees:

We are human saving warriors. We must move at lightning speed. We cannot allow anyone to stand in our way or even slow us down. Human lives are at stake.   

If you are a person with a treasure trove of stories, you can speak anywhere about just about anything. It's hard for me to imagine someone calling tomorrow and asking me to speak on a topic that I couldn't find an entertaining, enlightening story and associated message that would work.    

Want to become a person full of stories? I recommend Homework for Life:

The Moth brought me and my elementary school principal back together

Earlier this month, I told a story at a Moth GrandSLAM in Brooklyn about a time in my life when I had to face down the principal as a third grader. After stealing a classmate's stamp catalog, I was forced to admit to the theft or risk allowing my entire class to be punished for my crime.

Walking into the principal's office and telling him the truth that day remains one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I can still remember the moment like it was yesterday, and I think about it often when faced with the need to speak a difficult truth or admit to a mistake.

It was a lesson for a lifetime. 

It wasn't a typical story for me. Too long for a Moth slam, I stripped the story down to its bones and retained more humor than heart. Not my unusual strategy in storytelling, and especially in competitive storytelling, but I enjoyed telling it just the same. I don't often go for the laugh as often as I did that night, and I probably swore more on the stage that night than all the stages I've ever stood on combined. 

It was a different side of me as a storyteller. Not my most effective side, but a fun alternative.

The principal's name was Fred Hartnett. I had not seen or spoken to him since elementary school, though a few years ago, I discovered that the new middle school in my hometown - built on the street where I grew up - bears his name. I thought it was the perfect choice of name given how much that man still lives in my heart and mind almost four decades later. 

I assumed that Mr. Hartnett had probably passed away years ago, given that he was my principal back in 1979 and already seemed old to me even back then, but when I mentioned on Facebook that I was telling a story about him, a former classmate sent me a message informing me that Mr. Hartnett is alive and well and passed along his email address.

Since then, Mr. Hartnett and I have exchanged emails.

I can't believe it. 

In addition to the message I sent him, I attached a recording of the story made at a Speak Up event, where I had first told the more complete version of the story.

He replied:

"I certainly do remember you as well as other members of the Dicks family. I must admit, however, I do not recall the incident you referenced. That having been said, I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation."

He went on to expound on the fates of several people in the story, including my teacher and a classmate who plays a significant role in the tale.

In regards to the new school bearing his name, he writes:

"As for the middle school at BMRSD, it was my responsibility as superintendent to construct it, The school committee announced the dedication at graduation in 2003, the year I retired. I was, and sometimes remain, uncomfortable about it, though relieved it's not posthumously! On occasion, when I drive in I reflect it's similar to seeing one's name on a tombstone."

The man still has it. 

Remarkable how the power of The Moth has once again brought someone back into my life and re-established a connection that means so much to me. Mr. Hartnett and I continue to exchange emails. A man who once lived only in my heart and mind has come to life once again for me. We have discussed our teaching, writing, and course of our lives.

It's been remarkable.  

Tell your stories. On stages or in living rooms or at dinner table. Share them with friends and family and people willing to listen. You never know what may happen.

TEDx Berkshires: Homework for Life

Watch my most recent TEDx Talk, "Homework for Life," below. 

In this talk, I discuss a simple strategy - stumbled upon accidentally - that you can use to slow down time, find greater meaning in your life, and give your future self one of the best gifts imaginable. And if you're a storyteller - on the stage or at the dinner table - there is an immeasurable bonus.  

All I ask is for five minutes a day.  

My Story of the Day exercise will change your life. I promise. And you'll find a bunch of stories in the process.

Slate editor Allison Benedikt sent the following tweet around the holidays. Julia Turner, who was referenced in the tweet (Benedikt may actually be quoting her) is Slate’s editor-in-chief:

@juliaturner "You live your life. Most days are pretty much the same. You forget most things you’ve done. Then it’s over." Happy holidays!

This tweet struck a chord for me.

For more than a year, I’ve been teaching storytelling workshops as part of Speak Up, the storytelling organization that my wife and I founded in 2013. In addition to the many things that I teach to storytellers, I spend a great deal of class time sharing strategies for generating new story ideas.

There is one exercise in particular that I love. In fact, whether you are a storyteller or not, this exercise can change your life forever. No joke.

Before I go to bed each evening, I sit down in front of my computer for five minutes and ask myself this question:

“If I had to tell a five minute story onstage about something that happened to me today, what would that be?”

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Then I review my day, seeking out that one defining, possibly story-worthy moment. Oftentimes the moment is unspectacular. Hardly story worthy at all. But more often than you might think, I manage to find an actual story in my day.

It’s rarely a great story. Most of the time, it’s not even a good story. But it’s a story. Something that made this day different from the rest. Something possibly worthy of telling someday.

And sometimes, I find a great story. Something that I can’t wait to tell. More often than you might expect.

Once my story of the day has been identified, I record it in an Excel database, usually with a couple sentence fragments of description. Just enough detail to remind me of the story later on.

This is different than writing in a journal or a diary every day. Journals and diaries do not demand that you find stories. A diary or a journal entry can reflect a person’s thoughts and feelings for the day, but they do not require the purposeful search for story. They do not insist that the person seek a defining moment from every day of their lives.

It’s these defining moments that make all the difference. It’s the process of recording the stories of our lives that can change your life.

It's changed my life.

Suddenly my days are no longer “pretty much the same.” No longer do I forget most of the things that I have done. Every single day of my life now contains the kernel of a story, and about once or twice a week, those stories are good enough to move over to my official database of story ideas, which currently stands at 194 items.

194 potential stories to tell. 194 stories good enough to tell.

I have no more forgotten days.

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A storyteller who I adore once asked me why he never hears me repeat a story onstage. With 194 possible stories waiting to be told and a constantly growing list, why would I ever repeat a story?

At this rate, I'll never get through the list that I already have.

Since I’ve been teaching this strategy to my students, I’ve witnessed some incredible results.

About a dozen of my students continue to do this exercise everyday. Twelve is honestly a pathetic number. I’ve probably taught more than 100 students over the past year, so my percentage of students committed to the process is low. But this process requires a commitment. It’s a five minute commitment, but for some people, even that is a lot.

More importantly, it also requires a great deal of faith.

You have to believe that the process will ultimately yield results. You have to believe that the five minutes spent each day are worth it, even after days when the best you can do are story ideas like these:

I make dinner. Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. The only dinner I can actually make.

Taught Clara about the Rolling Stones while lying in bed with her. She likes the way Jagger dances.

Walked dog at 2:00 for the second straight night. Snowing.

These entries will probably not make good stories. If Clara turns out to be a Rolling Stones fan someday and we attend a concert together, perhaps the entry about her and the  Stones will become relevant, but it’s unlikely.

But I remember each one of those moments clear as day.

I remember cooking my wife hot dogs and macaroni to surprise her after an especially hard day.

I remember lying in my five year-old daughter’s bed, listening to Satisfaction and explaining the difference between The Stones and The Beatles.

I remember the snow starting to fall as I walked around the block in my slippers, trailing my dog. It was cold and quiet, and I felt so lucky to be out there to see the first flakes, despite the hour.

Those days are not lost to me. They will never be lost to me.

The dozen or so people who continue to record their daily stories do so religiously. We have become a cult. All report that the process has changed their lives. Comments from my former students include:

“I’ve always wanted to meditate but was never able to. But this I can do. It’s like a form of focused meditation. I see so much from my day that I would’ve forgotten.”

“I’ve discovered that I have stories. I lead a more interesting life than I ever knew. I can’t believe it.”

“I feel like I’m a more important part of the world now. I feel like my story is a part of a bigger story.”

“I’ve learned so much about myself and recovered so many stories from my childhood through this process that I had forgotten.”

This is also true. By sitting down and reviewing your day, searching for a story worthy moment, the door to the past often swings open and memories long since forgotten are suddenly pour through.

Looking for stories? Follow this process every day for the rest of your life.

More importantly, do you want to change your life? Do you want your days to matter? Do you want to recall the moments of your life that mean so much in the moment but are lost so easily?

Take my advice. Commit to five minutes every day.

Alison Benedikt (or perhaps Julia Turner) was not wrong. "Most days are pretty much the same. You forget most things you’ve done. Then it’s over."

Don’t let that be you.

I have a lot of stories to tell. More than you could ever imagine. I suspect that Bill Murray would understand why.

Bill Murray on the Howard Stern show:

Howard Stern: "Who teaches you to tell a story? Is it something you are born with?"

Bill Murray: "No, I don't think you're born with it. You have to hear stories and you have to live stories. You have to have a bunch of experiences and be able to say 'Here's something that happened to me yesterday....' And if you can make people laugh by telling them what happened to you, then you are telling the story well. So that's what I learned in improv.... But you have to live to have the stories. You need the experiences.

I couldn’t agree with Bill Murray anymore.

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The part of his answer that resonated the most with me was the idea that you can ask yourself what happened yesterday, and if it was the right kind of day and you choose the right moment from the day, you may find yourself with a great story.

I teach my storytelling students how to generate stories from their everyday lives, and while many of my former students have gone on to become accomplished storytellers who perform at shows like The Moth and Speak Up, the part of my workshop that so many people find most valuable is the training they receive in finding and nurturing stories from their own lives.

At the conclusion of a recent workshop, one of my students said, “I feel like I’m a more important person in the world now. I don’t see myself as living day to day anymore. I see my life as a series of stories inside one bigger story.”

I admittedly got a little weepy when she told me this.

Another storyteller recently said in regards to finding stories in her life:

“It’s like I can see the air now.”

Since I began storytelling a little more than three years ago, I have told more than 40 different stories on the stage. Only a handful of times have I repeated a story on the stage. Almost every time I take the stage at The Moth, Speak Up, or any other venue or show, I am telling a new story for the first (and quite possibly the last) time.

This is because my list of story ideas (kept on an Excel spreadsheet in an insanely organized and data-driven way) currently stands at 178.

My storytelling students and my fellow storytellers think that 178 is an impossible number. An insane number. They assume that most of the ideas will not result in good stories. Many think that I am simply throwing everything at the wall, hoping for something to stick. 

This is not the case.

Proof:

One of the things I do in workshops is allow my students to randomly choose an idea from the list so they can watch me begin to craft the story onstage. It’s an awkward and difficult process for me, not having a plan of any kind before beginning to speak, but my students have found this extremely helpful when it comes to crafting their own stories. It’s the closest I can get to allowing my students into my brain to see how I work, and the process has been extremely well received (even though I kind of hate it). 

I’ve done this many times over the course of the past two years, and my students have never found an idea on my list that I wouldn’t make a good story.

I’ve also won 15 of the 26 Moth StorySLAMs in which I have competed over the last three years, and I’ve finished second in seven others. I’m not trying to brag but rather demonstrate that despite the large number of stories that I’ve told and that I have yet to tell, I’m not telling duds.

I’ve just got a lot of stories.

Part of the reason for this is my ability to recall my past, including my childhood, in great detail. I have a very good memory.

Part of the reason for this is the exceedingly unfortunate, unusual, and difficult life that I have led.  

My wife credits my long list of stories to the way that I view my life through the lens of story.

Regardless of how you view life, how well you can recall the past, or how eventful (or uneventful) your life has been so far, I believe that if you use the strategies that I teach and class and practice my exercises regularly, you will find a multitude of interesting stories in your life.

And when you find and cultivate these stories, even if you have no intention of every taking the stage to tell them, I think my former student is right:

You will feel like a more important part of this world. Your life will gain weight and heft. You will better understand the amount of gravity that you exert upon your environment and the people around you.

You need not be a storyteller to enjoy these blessings.