The Pros of Verbal Storytelling

verbal storytelling

I often say that because I’m a writer I have a hard time with conversations because I don’t have a chance to go back and edit what I say in order to use the words I really mean. I find this frustrating when I’m trying to tell a story to someone and can’t think of the right word to describe my feelings on a topic. Because of this I often won’t say something because it’s not fully formed to the point that I want it to be.

It’s interesting because some of my earliest ‘writing’ was in verbal form. I used to tell myself stories while I walked or when I was trying to sleep and that used to be enough of a creative outlet for me. When I started writing my stories down, that changed and I moved away from verbal storytelling to writing down little scenes or conversation exchanges whenever inspiration struck.

Recently though, I turned back to verbal storytelling.

There are certain activities I don’t like doing because of how single purposed they are. Sleeping and driving are two of the highest on that list. There’s not much I can do to my sleep in order to multitask, but driving is a great time to write. Unfortunately, I can’t type and drive at the same time. But I can talk to myself and drive.

So, during Camp NaNo, I started recording the conversations I had with myself while driving. Because I was in the car alone, and tried to speak unfiltered and without restraint; the same way I try to brainstorm when I am typing. That meant lots of words, some more related than others, were recorded in the twenty minute drive. I was surprised how in that short time span I outlined and created a hierarchical society with social classes, traditions and religious beliefs for my world.

Specifically that kind of information would have taken me hours if I were writing it out because I get so caught up on being accurate to current systems and classes that I filter how I’m naturally thinking about my world in order to supplement it with hours of extra research—in general this isn’t a bad thing, but getting a base idea recorded allows me to go back to the framework I created in twenty minutes and fill in research where I actually need it.

Being unfiltered and speaking in a first draft, so to speak, lets me simply get the bare ideas that are floating around my head out. Definitely in more words than less, but once I go through the transcript, I can say what I said in a 100 words in 10 by choosing specific and meaningful words for my intended meaning.
I find that I get so wrapped up in complex ideas and concepts that I sometimes lose important details that I meant to include in my stories because I wasn’t able to type my thoughts as fast as I was thinking them.

When I’m speaking out loud, this isn’t an issue because I can talk almost as fast as I think. I love the freedom that comes from not getting stressed out over the fact that my typing speed is limiting what ideas are saved or forgotten.

I have found that verbal storytelling allows me to do at least three beneficial things:

1.It allows me to multitask in otherwise inefficient situations like driving or walking.
2.It allows me to save time by being unrestrained in my first draft thinking.
3.It allows me to verbalize the ideas and inspiration that sometimes get forgotten when I don’t write my thoughts down fast enough.

Verbal storytelling has been a wonderful exercise for me in discovering how I can adapt my writing process to be more effective, more creative, and more fun.

Do you do any verbal storytelling? What kinds of techniques do you use to get your thoughts and stories out?

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