Writing is a skill, storytelling is an art, inspiration is a fickle friend.
Let’s look at storytelling for a moment. For many, it’s a spoken talent. The ability to spin a captivating web, enchant audiences, and keep them on the edge of their seat. I know a guy down the street who made a living with storytelling.
Yet, he has no wish to write a book.
I admit, that floors me. But it shouldn’t.
A storyteller doesn’t plan these ideas, they spring from an adventurous life or an active imagination. Conversation or happenstance triggers the stories, and they just roll off of a talented tongue.
Writers are also storytellers, often with oral skill, but they take it a step further and introduce planning. How can this story fit into a longer narrative? How can I refine it? While an oral storyteller waits for inspiration, a writer courts inspiration, oddly, while alone.
The oral storyteller draws from life and imagination, but a writer draws heavily from ideation. We come up with ideas that are fresh and exciting, stringing pearls into a jewel of a story.
One isn’t better than the other, or course. We want storytellers at parties and we want writers for books.
Which are you? Is your life marked by ideation? Do you enjoy coming up with better ways of doing things or entirely new ways of doing things? Are you inordinately susceptible to clever things, an easy mark for new products? Do you like to cook without recipes? Do you have fits of baking or desires to rearrange furniture or painting rooms? I know those things don’t appear to have anything to do with writing, but they actually do. You’re intrigued by the new because you like to come up with fresh ideas. Doesn’t mean every compulsive buyer, cook or homemaker is a writer, but they might be.
What aspects of your life suggest you’re a writer?