I’ve been interested in storytelling as an art form for years, but it was just a few months ago that a friend invited me to a free workshop at the local library. There was a written option and an oral option, and since we both like theatre and wanted to do something different—we went with the oral storytelling option. It was amazing fun. I made another friend in the class, and we decided to start a storytelling group. Then, I got the idea to do a storytelling production and class at the small private college where I work. The storytelling group met a few times. Someone in the group emailed about a workshop led by a Grammy-nominated storyteller at a library in a nearby city. I went. I discovered more classes. Amazing classes. I looked online. I found an amazing online class and signed up and finished it and got my certificate of completion. I even found a storytelling option as one of the “Great Courses” offered by Audible. Got it. Listened to it. It was shocked at all of the learning opportunities that were falling into my path, and I just had one small, nagging concern as I bounced from one cool workshop to the next: I hadn’t actually told a story.
That little detail began to really bother me. Education, training, sitting in a classroom, taking notes, listening, watching others—all good things, but at some point, it’s time to stop soaking and get up there and do it. I realized that all of the classes and workshops really didn’t mean anything unless I was going to get up and tell a story.
So, I started. I told a story and recorded it on my phone. I listened to it and practiced again. Then, I told my story to someone who was willing to listen, and it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it felt good, and I wished I had a second story prepared.
My thoughts after doing the thing? 1) I need to tell that story a dozen more times. 2) I need to work up a dozen more stories.
There is a limit to how much we can learn without doing, and perhaps no limit to how much we can learn by doing. If we really want to do something, we will.
There is also a limit to how much fun and energy and life you can experience if you are only learning, but not practicing that knowledge. When I stood up and started telling my story to an audience, it was like another whole element had been added into my story—the life and energy of a listener.
Is there an area in your life where you are soaking up the learning, but not putting it into practice? It’s okay, if you don’t want to put it into practice. Sometimes, we may just want to learn about something for the sake of learning, but it’s also important not to kid ourselves. If we want to do the thing, we need to do the thing. Even if it’s scary. Especially if it’s scary.