There is power in a story. Everyone has a story to tell, but many think they don’t have the tools to do so. Worldwide, there are approximately 152 million books available. Additionally, there are around 2.2 million books published each year, yet more stories have yet to be written.
American novelist Alice Walker states, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any,” and the director of the International Storytelling Center, Jimmy Neil Smith, says, “We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”
Even with the large number of books published annually, there are still stories to be told. The rise of social media allows stories to be shared every day. On LinkedIn, 1 million posts are shared per day. 422 million posts are shared daily on Facebook, and 500 million posts are shared on Twitter. In addition, 7.5 million blog posts are written on an average day.
There are many benefits of storytelling. Storytelling can make any fact up to 22 times more memorable. Writing about important personal experiences for just as little as 15 minutes over three days may benefit your mental and physical health.
The psychological benefits of storytelling include healing, communication, self-reflection, concentration, legacy, reasoning, and success. According to one study, people who write down their goals are 1.5 times more likely to achieve them.
Business author Michael Leboeuf on how writing helps you focus on a single idea states, “When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us, can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus, a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.”
There are physical benefits associated with writing as well. Regular, expressive writing may decrease high blood pressure and protect against hypertension. Regularly writing about stressful events may reduce stress symptoms and help improve symptoms of chronic disease as well.
Improved mood and wellness are also associated with writing about intensely positive experiences, decreasing doctor visits. Writing about emotional experiences may lead to faster healing of physical injuries, and reading and writing may improve cognition and memory.
Storytelling allows individuals to process emotions quicker than non-writers. Anne Frank wrote, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Writing effectively can communicate difficult concepts, illustrated by Maya Angelou when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Additionally, writing about your experiences helps provide clarity, organize complex ideas and feelings, and enhances well-being and likelihood of success. In the words of Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
To write mindfully, you first have to get started. Anne Lamott states that “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” First, decide what you want to write about. Do you want to reflect on a challenging experience? Do you want to share a story of personal growth? Using a writing prompt can get the creative juices flowing.
Writing should feel like a reward, not a punishment. Enjoying the journey requires focusing on the process rather than just the end result. Save everything because you never know what you’ll want to come back to. The benefits of writing take time, so building a habit is essential.
Start small — write for 10 minutes a day and then stop; commit to writing every day or several times a week. Write down a goal you want to accomplish in the morning. Write daily about your feelings to help reduce stress, and in the evening, write about something you’re grateful for.
Every writer needs support, guidance, and feedback to succeed. Anyone can become a published author with the right tools. Learn more on how to tell your story to tap your power to write and change your life.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.