Simple Strategies for Stretching Your Story Muscle
Updated: Apr 21, 2022
In Episode 43 of the Power Your Platform Podcast, we’re exploring the topic of story stretching and how you can avoid getting stuck when comes to your own creative process.
Have you ever suffered from a case of BPS? Blank Page Syndrome is a condition that can slow your progress and leave you feeling frustrated and alone.
The truth is, there is a LOT of writing that’s involved when it comes to building a brand. Besides coming up with social media content and your ideal customer profile, there’s also the web site copy and emails and newsletters, not to mention your core platform content for your blog, podcast or YouTube channel. Right?
But slow down for a moment – and let’s take a breath. Because you can do this.
Now if you’re someone who loves to write – like me -- then it’s actually a lot of fun to come up with new and creative content ideas. But in my experience, there are a LOT of women who get absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer number of words that are involved when they begin to think about connecting with their audience online and building a strong brand reputation.
But really, what it comes down to is remaining mentally confident and flexible so we can respond to the needs of our business quickly and efficiently, with plenty of creativity to spare.
And I mention confidence only because I know that for so many people, it’s actually fear that’s holding them back from putting that first word down on paper or typing it on their computer screen. Deep down, many of us are afraid that what we write or create won’t be good enough.
So for today, I’m going to suggest 3 strategies for not only helping you stay mentally flexible, but also to address the elephant in the room which is that we’re really afraid of failing.
And throughout my years as a writer, I’ve adopted three tried-and-proven story stretches to help me stay flexible when it comes to new content creation, while also giving me a boost of confidence when it’s needed.
The first suggestion I have is to explore new paths.
A few years ago, my daughter spent a couple of weeks studying theatre at the Shakespeare School in Stratford, Ontario.
Each of the students had pages and pages of dialogue and monologue to memorize during the camp. And they memorized most of it during the time it took them to walk from their off-campus residence to the theatre each day.
So, first of all, they were moving as they were learning – which is something I believe is 100% effective when it comes to working through a challenge. Because movement fires up the neurons in our brains which allows us to be more alert and pay more attention, all the while building new brain cells to help us create and store new information.
But here’s the interesting thing: each day, my daughter’s theatre counsellor would encourage them to take a different route from the residence to the theatre. He pointed out that when we take the same path every day, we get in a rut. And when we’re in a rut, it’s difficult to learn new things and stretch our mental abilities. Cool, right?
So thanks to that unique approach, my daughter and the other theatre students managed to pull together an amazing, abridged production of Hamlet in just a few short days. And as parents, we were blown away by what they had memorized in such a short time.
But the fact it that any one of us would be capable of the same – if we intentionally approached our days in the same way.
So the lesson I took away from my daughter’s theatre experience was to keep exploring new paths. And here’s the way it plays out for me when I’m creating a new story or a new piece of content: I head outside for a walk or I get in my car and go for a drive. I get out of my regular surroundings and I start moving in a new direction. I explore my surroundings physically, and when I do, it loosens me up creatively to explore new options to the challenge I’m facing. And inevitably, by the time I’m back at my desk, I’ve got my solution, or at least a part of a solution that leads me exactly where I need to go.
And not only does this help me become a better story writer, it also helps build my confidence. Because over the years, I realize, the answers are already inside of me. I just need to follow the right route to find them. And often, that means getting outside of my familiar surroundings and exploring a new path.
So remember that the first way to stretch your story muscle -- and build your story confidence -- is to explore new paths.
The second tip I have for stretching your story muscle is to get back to play.
In episode 24 I interviewed Theresa Bailey of Starfish Synergies and we talked a lot about the valuable link between the act of play and the art of creativity. So let me ask you this: when was the last time you just PLAYED for the sake of having fun? I’m not talking about playing to WIN. I’m talking about playing for the sake of playing.
As adults, I find we always have to have an ulterior motive when it comes to playing and having fun. Almost like we need to talk ourselves into it. For instance, we might enjoy kayaking, but we tell ourselves that we’re really doing it to burn calories and it’s a great form of exercise, so really, it’s not just for fun – it’s a totally justifiable activity. And the same goes for almost anything, from reading to making pottery to skiing down a new mountain.
The truth is that playing for the simple sake of playing is all that’s required sometimes. And when we lose ourselves in play, it helps unlock that creative part inside of us that so often gets lost as we become adults.
And on that note: when WAS the last time you lost yourself in the pure fun of play? If you can’t remember, then think about the activities you enjoyed as a kid and pick one of them to try this week.
Because when we play, we tap into the part of our brain that allows us to look at the world differently, and allows us to consider that anything is possible. So if you struggle with a fixed mindset that keeps you locked in your old ways and leaves you feeling stuck, then consider setting up a play date for yourself – and watch what happens when your creative muscles begin to get back in shape.
And once again, when we play, our confidence builds, because we return to a more child-like way of thinking, back when we truly believed anything was possible and we were capable of doing just about anything.
So it’s time – block some time on your calendar for pure play, and let the creativity flow!
And finally, a third tip for stretching your storytelling muscle is to embrace new collaborations.
Collaboration is such a powerful tool, because it helps us get out of our own heads and see things from a brand new perspective. I particularly enjoy working with women who don’t come from exactly the same type of background as me.
As a creator and marketer, I pursue conversations with people in different types of fields, to see how they’re solving challenges within their own industry. When I do, I’m always introduced to new ways of solving problems, and it all helps me to stretch my own story muscle by causing me to look at the world through new eyes.
So what do I mean by collaboration? Well, it could be that you team up with another business owner to co-host a workshop or an event. Maybe you cross-promote each other’s businesses or services. Or maybe you just commit to sharing resources or connections.
There are so many ways to collaborate. Here are my top tips:
I hope these simple tips help you stretch your creative story muscle and remind you of all of the amazing gifts, talents and abilities you have inside you.