Storytelling is a process of discovery, for you and the subject matter. Here are four essential exercises for helping you identify stories that you are uniquely wired to tell:
1. “Art is a corner of nature seen through a temperament,” says Michael Rabiger in his book, “Directing the Documentary.” Artists as story tellers, must pay attention to themselves first, what moves them and motivates them for good or ill. So know the effects on you of the formative experiences of your growing up years. Find a quiet retreat, take time and write them down. Self awareness is the precondition of compassion for others.
2. As you look back at those formative experiences, you can begin to identify two or three themes from how those experiences shaped you. Be glad for what is positive but don’t shy away from bad or ugly marks you bear. Look them in the face, and name them all.
3. Name five or six characters – real or fictitious – you are drawn to with unusual empathy. Where do you connect with them? How? And what kind of questions would you ask them?
4. Now, jot down three or four story ideas to which you are drawn that allow you to explore your central themes. And start telling your stories!