Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ideas wanted: Cheap, easy and life-changing preferred

For every post I write, there are at least three that never get out of draft form.

They're contrived. Boring. Trying too hard. Not trying hard enough.
And some of them just don't say anything. No story to tell. I thought there was something there when I started, but I'll never be able to huff enough air into the limp corpse to make it come alive.

For every post that remains unpublished, there are another dozen that never get written. Why? Because I can't string two sentences together. Can't find a thread to follow. A line to write. I poke around, kick a thought or two and nothing. So I have profound respect for anyone with never-ending patter. Writers who churn out pages. Storytellers who gush out words.

Now, I find I can be one too. On The Gist podcast, Slate's Mike Pesca interviewed Matthew Dicks about where he gets his idea. Dicks, a storyteller, author and 20-time winner of The Moth StorySlams, has a system and it's simple in concept.

Simple is good. I can do simple.

Every night, Dicks opens up a spreadsheet and asks himself "If I had to tell a 5 minute story of my day, what would it be?" Then he writes it on a spreadsheet. 5 to 20 words. That's it.

"It will, I promise you, change your life." Dicks says in the podcast.

What it does is find the different in the day, "little moments that mean the most." It's moments that make us more relatable. More entertaining. And once those moments are written down, they spark connections, spin into something bigger than five words.

So I've started a spreadsheet and looked back at the day, searching for a moment that is ready to be the star in it's own story. By writing it down, I've rescued it. Honored it. Given it the potential to save me and itself. To escape the draft folder and find life online.

Listen to Where to Find the Best Stories on The Gist podcast.