How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What I Learned from Storytelling

Are you one of those people whose top fear, even over death, is public speaking? I used to think so for myself … but since high school, that has gradually changed. The prospect still stirs unpleasant butterflies in my stomach (the only butterflies I’m not fond of), but once I’m up and talking, I actually enjoy myself (for the most part, though I do feel quite relieved when I’m no longer the center of attention!). I’ve spoken mostly in a teacher-classroom setting, so being prepared is a big part of being comfortable. Perhaps what also makes me enjoy it is the fact that it’s a fear I’ve overcome with God’s help. God calls people out of their comfort zones, and I try to pursue things that will stretch me because it’s all a part of growing into a person God can use. (I wouldn’t get very far without Him!)

Storytelling has intrigued me lately. I’ve been watching a DVD lecture series from the Great Courses about storytelling, and it makes me eager to try my hand—er, voice—at it. Standing up in front of an audience and sharing a story you’ve crafted yourself is something definitely out of my comfort zone, but what did I just say about that? Besides, it does seem like fun, once the butterflies don’t flutter so hard, leaving you room to breathe. (Interestingly, performance anxiety is a good thing, because it gives you energy and focus to do your best.) The main way storytelling seems to differ from a written story and from acting is that the words are not set in stone. You’re required to be kind of spontaneous, or else you’ll sound stiff. 

Storytelling goes back deeply into history
The thought of not having set words to say was off-putting to me at first … but then I learned more about how storytelling works. It’s all about being natural and creating an atmosphere for your audience. Unless you’re an actor (which I’m decidedly not), a memorized speech just doesn’t draw in the listeners. Interacting with your audience is key. This really helped me with a teaching opportunity at a music day camp I’m volunteering at this week. I was doing lots of research on Native American tribes in Texas earlier this summer (my job was to give the kids an overview of Native American history, because the music they were learning was “Pioneer” and “Indian” themed) and I had thought I would be trying to memorize words I wrote. But my storytelling course informed me that was a bad idea. So instead I jotted incomplete notes, became very familiar with my material, and more or less winged it. I had much less time to speak than I’d anticipated, so I kept to only the most interesting facts, and I interacted with the kids via questions and props. I had more fun than I expected!

Learning storytelling techniques isn’t just for the actual art of storytelling, though I hope to try that one day. It makes you a better conversationalist, public speaker, and teacher … basically, better at talking of any kind!

Have you ever listened to a live storyteller? Have you done it yourself, or any other form of public speaking?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Catching Up

I’m back from my two weeks away! I had a fun and meaningful time, first a week in South Dakota (during which I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead, the living museum built on the actual acreage once owned by the Ingalls family) and then a week in Oklahoma as a counselor at a youth camp.

In Read-to-Win news, last week’s question provided some fascinating answers. “What was your favorite book series as a child?” was the most fun video I made thus far, because I love talking about books! Want to find out which series made my list? Here is the link and be sure to check out the other videos. What was your favorite book series when you were younger? What is your favorite series now?

Since I finally got around to figuring out how to upload my own videos to my blog, this is a video that I missed posting about a few weeks ago … it answers the question, “Why do you write?”

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Summer Fun Begins

Today will feature a short post because … I am not currently at home, but visiting friends in South Dakota—Laura Ingalls Wilder country. So, what have I been up to on my visit? Well, it’s really only begun, but so far I’ve seen a very nice firework display on July Fourth (and I don’t always get to!) and eaten mulberries fresh off of mulberry trees as well as picked several pints so that we could eat them whenever we wanted (they’re quite good in vanilla ice cream). I’ve also seen a movie called From Prada to Nada, a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility set in modern-day Los Angeles. It wasn’t outstanding, but it was a clever rendition of one of my favorite stories. I haven’t seen or read any other retellings, so it gave me food for thought.

Next week I will be a counselor at a summer Bible camp, so my next post will be in two weeks, and I’ll hopefully get to share about some of the other interesting things we did!

To close, in case you want to view more of the videos I’m making for the Homeschool Authors Read-to-Win program, here is the link to the latest: Our Best Writing Advice. And be sure to check out the eBook of the week!

How has your summer been going?