In 2008, I will have been a storyteller for 22 years. I actually have press clippings back even further to 29 years ago. Storyteller.net is currently celebrating its 10th year of service. In those years, I’ve watched storytelling grow and change. There are many things to celebrate. There is also tremendous room for growth, growth that our art form desperately needs.
Many years ago, when storytelling was much younger and even more “boutique” than it is today, I wrote an article about resolutions for storytellers for our then very new, very on-the-edge Storyteller.net. You can read it at Storyteller.net.
In those years since, storytelling has changed. Or at least it should have. There are more tellers than ten years ago. There are more of these tellers calling themselves professional. There are more people who want to become professional storytellers. We’re seeing a glut of “boomers” who are leaving their previous careers and jumping into storytelling. At least weekly, someone writes me at Storyteller.net to ask, “How do I become a professional storyteller?” Some of these new folks are making a smooth transition. Most are not.
All of these Emails and coaching over the last decade have given me a unique overview of storytelling. Coupled with another decade of workaday storytelling, I see a broad picture of what storytelling is in today’s world. For this article, I am speaking to those who are trying to make any portion of their income through the art of storytelling. Although some of these items I’m listing below apply for those who might be using storytelling as an adjunct to their primary career or to the hobbyist, many of these are laser-focused for the working tellers.
For this new year, here’s my updated list the blocks for professional storytellers. Take what you need from it. Leave the rest behind.
Over the next few weeks, I will be diving deeper into each of these with more content. For now, here is the list, in no special order:
1. You aren’t finding your niche. Your work does not stand out from any other teller.
2. You are not balancing the three circles of storytelling: business, artistry, technical.
3. You are talking to the same people over and over again who are talking about the same subjects over and over again.
4. You rarely seek out coaching and when you do, it’s solely the “nurturing” type.
5. You are still not using the Internet.
6. You are not investing your money into your professional development, i.e. your business.
7. You are waiting for what is a very small portion of the storytelling world to acknowledge you.
8. You have let storytelling become your spirituality.
9. You haven’t learned the difference between being an actor, a speaker and a storyteller.
10. Especially for U.S. and Canadian tellers, you are telling too many disconnected and without-context personal stories.