Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to School for Storytelling

-post by Emma Rooney 
Stories may be universal but being a storyteller may not come naturally. While we all have stories to share, it can be a pretty intimidating process to put our stories out-there. The availability of new technologies and new forms of media open up storytelling, but with this, comes the assumption that you should already be able and motivated to tell your own story, completely unsupported. It's supposed to be easy, and everywhere you turn you are being asked to freely share your story. I recently stayed at a hotel, that placed a postcard at my bedside table, with the kind request that I share with them a "unique story" of my travel experiences. While this may seem like a cute boutique proposal, intended to add meaning to my stay, I needed to turn over the card to prevent the ensuing nightmares. My anxiety only increases when I'm asked to contribute a story to a cause I actually care about, like raising rare disease awareness. Perhaps I'm not the only one that likes the idea of storytelling but is frightened of the actual doing. I wish that organizations requesting stories would take this into account when soliciting. Stories matter but storytellers need support! Being asked to share is not always enough to get the creative juices flowing or the necessary confidence piping.

Luckily there are a growing number of relevant resources and supports out there. The Centre for Digital Storytelling is a great place to start, especially if you're interested in going beyond pen and paper. Once I decided I would create my own digital story, I watched many of their story examples for inspiration and to try to work out what a digital story actually is (what I should be doing). They also offer an interesting array of workshops, including online options, and a collection of resources for sale. Yesterday I felt  fortunate to join a short, free webinar, "The Role of Narrative in Public Health”. The hour long session didn't allow me to unpack all my worries but certainly there were a number of helpful starting points, including considerations around balancing process (the making challenge) and media products (what everyone's asking for). Most reassuring was the importance placed on ethical practice, especially essential when dealing with health stories. The Center's ideas on this topic are publicly available online and while the emphasis here is on conducting storytelling workshops, it may still be helpful thinking for health groups wanting to use more stories.

Also don't miss out on the currently running Storymakers 2014, from TechSoup. Yes, they're also looking for your stories with a storymakers challenge, but they're offering cash prizes for winning submissions and a generous lineup of events, including today's Global Tweet-chat at #Storymakers2014. If you missed the first two free webinars on storytelling, with great examples and practical advice shared, you can still access all the information on the achieve:
The super-short video webinar would be a great offering for anyone from the Gaucher rare disease community interested in entering the National Gaucher Foundation video contest but unsure where to start. The submission deadline has been extended to September 15th. Videos are intended to support efforts of the upcoming Gaucher Awareness Month in October.

Visit our links page for more storytelling tool suggestions and check-out the My Normal story making handouts.                                     

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