Telling Your Story
Episode #3 of the course Creative mindfulness: Ten ways to chill out and enjoy creativity by K.C. Finn
Some people get a good feeling from tidying up and seeing a super well-organized desk or room in front of them, with everything in its place. Today’s exercise looks at the sense of peace that comes from such organizational efforts, but with a fun and imaginative twist.
You don’t have to be a writer to tell a story. We all tell stories all the time, and narrative plays an essential role in most of our lives. Whether it’s that moment where you recount the awful encounter you had on the train to work this morning or the hot gossip you heard at a party and just have to pass on with all the racy details, these are the stories that we tell to one another. Even in youth, we understand that stories must have structure in order to make sense to other people and that they need central elements like character, plot, and setting in order to work correctly.
This exercise uses our innate sense of narrative and storytelling to offer the peaceful comfort of structural organization, alongside the imaginative boost that we can get from creating stories for ourselves. Going into the exercise, it’s important to consider a few key mantras so you find it enjoyable. First off, this is not supposed to be the new Stephen King bestseller, so don’t worry about the quality of the ideas. Second, this is also a tactile exercise where you physically hold the elements to get that organizational bliss, so don’t skip out on the cutting and sticking part!
This activity requires a little preparation, but fortunately, it’s the fun kind. You’ll need images to get started, and one of the best ways to get these is to recycle them out of old magazines, catalogs, and junk mail that is sure to be piling up and lying around at home. The idea is to collect a series of different cut-out images, and they should be split into three categories: people, places, and things. The more varied these images are, the better, as it makes for more exciting stories in the end!
Once you have collected a bunch of images, we go right into storyboarding. You can use a pinboard or paper and glue to create your board. Start loose, without committing to what you intend to stick down and create. Have a look at your characters and decide on relationships between them. Do you have heroes and villains or a family story? Now give them a place to live or visit. Is this a road trip story or a holiday disaster tale? Add objects in, and make them central to the plot ideas. Why is that striped tie so important? What mysteries does the unopened envelope hold? When you have your story down, stick it all in place, and you can even add notes to help you remember how it goes.
As each lesson progresses, you’ll see that the activities become a little more involved and time consuming, but they also totally occupy a busy mind with creative activities and take you away from the world for a while. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys watching a good storyline in a movie or TV show, then actively creating your own storyboard should provide a great interactive experience. You may notice that you begin to problem-solve during the task too, perhaps taking tricky elements from daily life and including them in your story. This is a great way to re-contextualize your problems and look at them with different energy.
In Lesson 4, we’ll begin to explore the world of drama-based exercises, which engage not only the mind but also the whole body and voice in the mindfulness experience. It’s an invaluable way to get rid of too-busy and anxious energy, so don’t miss it!
Till then, enjoy your new stories!
Another great way to storyboard when you’re on the go is to have premade story cubes, which put ideas and concepts out in a random order, and it’s up to you to connect them! There are cubes available to buy, but great sites like Fun Kids offer printable versions for free.
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