Writing tales to tell

Hello friends of the forest! I hope everyone is having a magical day.

This past weekend a couple of parents asked me how I write stories for my storytelling programs and for my personalized stories. What an excellent opportunity to post another exercise to help free our creative spirits. (For the last week, I have been posting on freeing our expressive selves through creative play. So far, we've danced, danced, danced and played a  storytelling game.)

Try out my method for a little creative fun:

1.) Put yourself into a creative space.

Relax in a quiet and a private place for several minutes. Close your eyes and give yourself full permission to let go and dream. Sometimes, if it's difficult to focus, I dance, I release a scream or I shake out all of the noise in my head.

2.) With your eyes closed, imagine your storytelling audience.

Sometimes I imagine a group of wide-eyed children awaiting a story that sends them to a magical land. And sometimes I imagine a group of adults awaiting a story that reawakens the child within. If I'm writing a story for a particular audience, then I envision that audience. Your audience may vary with each story you write.

3.) Without thinking about plots or any details, watch yourself tell a story to that audience.

What do they need to hear? What do they need to see? What do they need to experience? Notice what images, thoughts, and feelings come to you. They might not make sense, but take note of everything. Sometimes I envision an entire story, but more often, I see images like scarves or I hear sounds like clapping or character voices. Incorporate these images, thoughts and feelings into the story.

3.) Pen-to-paper.

I handwrite most storytelling tales because I need to stay connected to the imagined audience. Sometimes I use a rainbow of vibrant markers and sometimes I use whatever writing I can find. The important thing is to write your ideas down without filtering. Your words will make sense in the end, I promise. At this stage, the story doesn't need a developed plot. Just let a quick story flow onto the paper.

4.)   Regardless of any gaps or holes in the plot, close your eyes and tell the story to your audience.

Note their reactions. They will gently inform you what works and what doesn't work. Incorporate their ideas and make any necessary changes. You may see more images or feel emotions that guide you to further develop your story. 

5.) Rehearse the story aloud.

Sometimes I need to practice a story hundreds of times before it feels finished, while other times I nail it on the third try. Just keep practicing until your story feels completed. And don't let your fear of performing the story determine if you are finished or not. Fear is natural and, sometimes, no matter how well you know your story, fear will trick you into thinking you aren't ready to perform it. You will never feel 100% prepared, so step through the fear and tell your story to a live audience. 

Smile as you tell your tale because you will be successful and you will have fun!

The most important thing to remember when writing a storytelling tale is to listen and trust yourself. Even if you do not think you are a writer or a storyteller yet, you have stories inside of you that need to be shared with others. Perhaps a story will help you start off a meeting at work or perhaps your children need a story to reiterate a lesson you've been teaching them. Don't think too much about it, just allow yourself to be free and to let the words flow!

Happy tales to you! Lots of love! Xx

Free your creative spirit with a storytelling game

Hello magical friends!

I hope everyone is dancing! Here is another great exercise to help free our creative selves. This post is directed towards those who expressed on the Creative Playtime post that they would like to try storytelling.

The following storytelling exercise can be done with two or more people. If you are fearful about performing in front of others, I recommend trying the game with children first. Let a child begin the activity and notice how he or she has no "sensors" or embarrassment when the story does not come out perfectly.  Children are good teachers because they simply and easily let ideas flow right out of their mouths. Learn from this and free yourself from the voices in your head!

Also, children make perfect creative mentors and playmates because they are supportive beings who love when adults drop their "guard." Children will not judge you and their magical smiles will boost your confidence!

1.) Have one person start telling a story (any story will do-- an imaginary tale, a favorite fairy tale, a memory). And don't just tell the story, act out the story by using exaggerated gestures and voices.

2.) At any point during the story, the other player(s) can yell "Freeze." When "Freeze" is called, the storyteller sits down. The player who called "Freeze" takes the storyteller's exact same physical position and either begins telling a completely different unrelated story, continues the story, or changes the outcome of the story.

3.) The new storyteller continues until someone else calls "Freeze" and so the story grows. Keep this activity going and going and going until you have a hilariously crazy story! 

Storytelling offers magical freedom once you let go of your fear! Be sure to laugh and play as you practice letting your mind, words and body run wild! Happy Storytelling!

Lots of love,

Telling tales with paint, not words

Stories, stories, stories. I read stories. I write stories. I speak stories. I can even act out stories and illustrate stories! So why was I feeling bored and blocked over a simple story that I was editing this weekend?

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and heard, Try communicating the story without reaching for the tools that you utilize every single day-- Paint the story.

Now, my husband is an artist who has an entire closet filled with magical treasures just for painting! Having never before painted anything in my life, I enthusiastically grabbed every essential painting supply (anything bright, colorful and glittery, any shiny gadget or silly looking brush, as well as anything with a pleasant scent is my definition of 'essential').

Then I began to paint my story.

The creative process was simple because I have no artistic training. I don't know a thing about painting, so I did what I felt.  I did not think about the end result. 

The story on the canvas continued to change for an hour until a mermaid appeared. It was this magical mermaid who led me out of the boring black abyss that had me feeling trapped and guided me towards the bright world where creativity flows easy and free.

Meet my magical (semi-finished) mermaid:

(Official title: Telling my tale with paint, not words)

Although she may not end up in a gallery, painting this mermaid opened me up to a world of creative possibilities! (So my magical mission was accomplished!) Even if you aren't feeling blocked at the moment, give the exercise a try.

Don't be afraid to embrace a different creative medium in order to get your ideas and inspiration flowing again! Just keep creating and stay magical no matter what happens! Xx

Lots of love from the snowy enchanted tree house,

Yes, demon slime babies (and sneeze pizzas) can be magical too

Yesterday, as the sun slipped behind the trees, I took the enchanted pup running in a park filled with children playing soccer. My decrepit running shoes plodded along to sounds of slobbery puppy pants and cheering soccer families. Then, after four laps around the park, a gang of bored soccer siblings ambushed the enchanted pup with hugs and handfuls of weeds. I believe it is the enchanted pup's enormous dangly tongue that attracts children (not to mention, it is her tongue that has parents cringing and reaching for hand-sanitizing potions).

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After introductions, a boy, with what appeared to be purple jam smeared across his forehead, got into my face and yelled, "WHAT DO YOU DO? ARE YOU A LAWYER?"

"I'm a storyteller," I replied.

"WELL, TELL A STORY THEN!" another child snapped.

When disclosing my profession to a child or an adult, this is the most common response. And I typically oblige due to my rule to accept every storytelling opportunity offered. (Even when panting, sweating and wearing worn out jogging shorts and a t-shirt covered with neon sheepies circa 1993).

"What type of story would you like to hear?" I asked as the gang of sticky and sugar-fuelled children and I made our way over to the rusty bleachers.

Noting the female to male ratio, I was expecting to hear the usual cliché answers (princesses, princess fairy tales, Disney princesses and fairy princesses or even Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Bella Swan). But then a pig-tailed four-year-old girl rolling on top of the enchanted pup yelled at the top of her lungs, "DEMON SLIME BABIES!"

"Ah, yes, demon slime babies. Great idea! Well, I could tell a story about demon slime babies or I could tell you the story of a magical little creature who lives in the forest right over there."

She pushed my pointer finger down and said, "NO! DEMON SLIME BABIES!"

"What about the story of a peculiar little girl who finds a magical stalk of broccoli that..."

Whilst lifting his eyelids with his fingers until only the whites showed, a boy shouted, "WHAT?! MAGICAL BROCCOLI IS BORING, LADY! TELL A STORY ABOUT...ABOUT...*achoo*...PIZZAS!"

He proceeded to wipe nose sludge onto his bare arm and kneecap. "Sneeze pizzas?" I asked.

The children giggled and burst into the chant, "DEMON SLIME BABIES! DEMON SLIME BABIES! DEMON SLIME BABIES!"

Several parents joined the crowd upon hearing their children shout these words at a complete stranger. Knowing I had no stories about demon slime babies or sneeze pizzas in my repertoire, I looked at the growing audience of parents, curious joggers and chanting children and made a rash decision. "Okay," I squeaked. "A story about demon slime babies and sneeze pizzas it is."

"AND IT BETTER BE A GOOD ONE!" a child shouted.

This is why I love working with children. They they don't hold back their thoughts and they give instant feedback. Since I identified myself as a storyteller, they expected me to tell an award-winning story about demon slime babies on the spot. And if I so much as failed to entertain or if I allowed one single mind to wander, the children would not only blatantly deliver harsh criticism, but they would walk away.

I was both excited and terrified. On the one hand, storytelling to children of mixed ages in a location where they normally run wild without rules is an ultimate challenge. On the other hand, spontaneously writing and performing a story in front of a large group of potential clients in a brand new market is risky.

The only way to improve my skills as a storyteller is to do uncomfortable things and take risks.

To my relief, I whipped out a story (complete with audience participation) that engaged the children. (Phew!)  I know my story about demon slime babies and sneeze pizzas was not my best. However, as the children's faces lit up and smiles crossed their lips, I saw that this storytelling experience was magical to them (and as I floated away on a cloud of accomplishment, I realized that this storytelling experience was equally magical to me.)

The seed of this tale is that you must take risks in order to spread magic and feel magical! Are you taking enough risks in your life? 

Xx

Filed Under: MAGICAL BROCCOLI IS BORING, LADY!