Start With the Story

Start With the Story

On Wednesday, I talked to my new friend Simone about getting started with blogging.

She asked me how I tie stories and business lessons together, and I emphatically gave her this advice: start with the story.

Then Thursday morning I woke up to write my blog post for the day. I started with a story. In the back of my mind, there was a point to it (there was, I know — somewhere) but I just couldn’t find it.

Thursday morning, as I wrote some descriptions of a morning at the beach with my daughters, my own advice failed me.

I felt myself sinking into the wet sand of the beach in my story, felt myself falling into the water and being tossed in the waves, adrift. The water felt cold, numbing. I swam about aimlessly, treading water. I couldn’t find my way back to shore.

I couldn’t get from here to there — from the story to the lesson.

So I left the story in my drafts folder, went on to my day. Later, I re-posted some old writing.

I went back to the beach story yesterday, reread what I had written, tried to see where the post would take me.

I started to question my advice to Simone and to think about my own writing process, how I do what I do.

Sometimes, I start with a story with no particular lesson or end point in mind.

Often, I know where I want to go, and I think of a story that will take me there.

Always, I discover.

Always, the joy is in the discovery: in the bright blue shard of smooth sea glass or the perfect oval stone.

So, Simone. Start with the story, or start with the lesson. Start somewhere and see what you discover.

Tell me something! What advice would you share with a beginning blogger? Do you start with a story? Or do you start with a lesson or point in mind?

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Excellent post as always! Just when I was forgetting my basics to get a new post out today.

    Some other tips I would give: Keep It Simple Simone 🙂

    The feedback I have consistently recd from my ctitiques about my writing for is that they are able to quickly relate to my writing. Weaving stories in it helps keep it simple too. Let it come from the heart.

    Another lesson I have learnt – Try to write under 350 words and include an image. Blogger gurus talk about that as the optimum reader-attention span on a blog.

    Finally, back to the importance of story-based writing, it helps you connect the different thought “chunks” and make it conversational. Just start writing and let it flow, dont worry abt anything else.

  • I think a story is best as it illustrates the point and makes it easier for people to grasp or follow in terms of your message. I know my blogs, the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that are from my heart rather than those written from my mind. Certainly my editor Chomba agrees. A story is also likely to be a consistent voice of you, which is what draws people to either resonate or not with your post. I strongly agree with what you did the other day. You did not feel it, so you did not force it and you went to plan B. My post today had a lot of back and forth as I was torn between topics as they equally excited me. I went with the one that comes from the heart!

  • “Always I discover.”

    That’s such a great place to be. Sometimes we let the “schedule” pressure us. I like the fact that you re-posted some old writing to keep consistency and gave yourself permission to take some space so you *could* discover. That’s a great tactic.

    If I were to give Simone any advice it would be to write every day. You don’t have to post every day, but writing every day works the “muscles” and gives you material you can use on the days where you are struggling to produce a post.

    I also agree with Raj’s comment: “Let it come from the heart”. I don’t think there could be better advice than that. 🙂

  • Blogging for me starts with a thought, a skype conversation, a self reflection or something that I am wrestling with.

    Where do we start?

    I say, start from where we are.

    Story is everywhere life is. Our days define the moments of our story. Which moments do you want to explore. Which hour do you want to revisit?

    Thank you Becky for being the beautiful soul you are.
    You are a true gift.

  • Beautiful post, Becky!

    Often my posts come from or are inspired by my connections with others. I agree with Lolly and David – start with where you are and with what is real, then write from your heart.

  • Great post, Becky. As a new blogger, it currently takes me hours to compose my blog. I find it a challenge to whittle what I want to say down to 500 words and still keep my message. Your advice and the advice in the comments is helpful. Glad you addressed this topic.

    • 500 words? Oh dear! I’m afraid I’m an outright rebel in that regard. Like John, I always have more to say than I can pour into a single post. 🙂

  • Hi, Becky

    Another fascinating set of questions:)

    I agree with the other posters about being authentic and “starting where you are”. This is critical to finding your voice.

    Creative thinking is production thinking. In other words, it’s all about coming up with ideas and keeping our minds open to possibilities.

    I carry either a pocket-sized notebook or some index cards with me just about wherever I go. This gives me something to record those random thoughts and happenings that are everywhere in life if we just pay attention.

    That is the hard part, though. Our formal institutions, organizations, and groups tend to move us toward the tried and true, the known, the way everyone else does it. True creativity is when you are sort of releasing yourself to the moment and just thinking about what you are experiencing.

    As an example, last Sunday morning, between driving to church, an adult Christian discussion class, a service, and driving home (with a little help from NPR), I came up with four pages worth of notes, words, phrases, and sketches. Each of these either has already become or is in the process of becoming a blog post.

    I find no lack of possible things to talk about. Whether a long held memory or a recent event, life’s full of stuff – you just have to notice it. Then you have the problem Jesse mentioned – getting it down to a reasonable amount of words.

    Hmmmm . . . that gives me an idea for a blogpost. Later:)


    • Addendum:

      Regarding the question about whether I start with a point or with a story . . . my response is “Yes”.

      I’m sure someone can and maybe already has made a great case for either as the first step. My reality is that either direction can work.

      Some of my most well-received posts have been Seinfeldian – about nothing. Others have been tactically and strategically planned to the nth detail, only to sink without a gurgle or a trace.

      I think we have to let go of the idea that there is one best way to do all this. As I see it, many different approaches can and do work – sometimes the best approach for me would be the kiss of online death for you.

      It always comes back to finding YOUR voice . . . not THE voice.


  • I think it was first suggested to me to write in or about 1985. I can’t remember his name right now, it escapes me, as many things have as I have aged. I’ll just call him Doc… he was a psychologist in the Portsmouth, NH area… I guess I needed help back then too.

    The most important thing I remember about that conversation was his answer to my statement or question, how ever it was taken, that I wasn’t sure what I would say or write about. The answer was simple, he said “just tell your story”.

    Here we are 26 years and many events and situations later thinking I have been told that I should write by so many, including Phil…. a book, a blog, it didn’t matter, just start writing. I’ve tried a few times, I guess it has not sunk in yet. Either that or I just use the lazy excuse and say I don’t have time. What I like about this project is “12 minutes at a time”.

    Maybe 12 minutes of writing, then 12 minutes of exercise, I could use both. This reply is for you Phil… and you Becky… I feel like we’re connected already.

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