I told Dave not to do it. I saw it happen in a movie and when you’re in 4th grade, you don’t really know which laws of the universe transfer off screen, but I knew this one would. We were walking home from school, trudging through a baseball field of shin high snow wearing ugly rubber boots.
At the end of the baseball field, acting as more of a comfort shield to the houses than realistic target for elementary kids to swing for, sat the metal baseball fence. Most days this was the perfect place to leave sugary gum, no matter if I was walking to school or on the way home, that’s the point where my gum would lose flavor and it would then become exercise. Each day I’d stick it to the end of the fence post as a trial marker.
I don’t remember how this topic came up. Maybe one of us had just watched A Christmas Story, but Dave didn’t think his tongue would stick to a metal pole in the middle of winter. I assured him it would.
It happened in the movie and I had the experience a few times where an ice cube straight from the freezer got stuck to my tongue. He either didn’t want to believe me or wanted to make the walk more enjoyable.
We argued back and forth until he said, “Izz sthhuck.” For a brief moment his tongue was married to that pole. A few soft tugs dig nothing, but reassure him that he was wrong. “We need hot water. Want me to run to your house?” I said, closing my eyes before he pulled it completely from the pole.
This is my 222nd consecutive day of writing 750 words a day. Sometimes I write in the morning. More often at night, but by midnight I’ve written 750 words.
I wanted to get in the habit of writing so I began to write a lot. Sometimes it would go toward a blog post that was likely never published, other times toward a possible book idea.
Most of the time, I wrote down my thoughts on a subject. Maybe it’s going to the grocery store or observations I collected from earlier in the day. But what I didn’t do often enough is the one thing that will make you a much better writer.
If the act of writing is a form of exercise, writing down your thoughts is water aerobics for senior citizens at the local YMCA while writing stories is P90X. Good stories are much harder to write than good thoughts. There will always be a shortage and need for great story telling. Every box office bomb this summer is proof.
“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.“
– Steve Jobs
When I told my friend that I knew with 100% confidence his tongue would get stuck he didn’t believe me. Most of the time when you give someone unsolicited advice, either they don’t take it or they resent you. When they ask for advice, only 50% of the time do they take it. Thoughts rarely change people, but stories do.
If the purpose for writing something is to persuade, change an emotion, or evoke a feeling, storytelling is the most effective form of writing. So if one wanted to become a better writer, they should practice by writing stories. If you can’t think of a story to write, then retell someone else’s story. The quickest long path to becoming a better writer is to become a better storyteller.