Take a Razor to Your Story

It amazes me how we get so fixated on quantity over quality. I reckon we have a fear of quality; being able to produce it, or being deserving enough to receive it.

Somehow we justify our existence by doing more, and make it seem that the quantity of our work is of greater value. And then I think of a Swiss Army knife. The one with 20 + gadgets seems impressive, but it is the one with only one blade that I use over and over again. It is half rusty, after a fishing trip where it was the only knife we had, and now sits on my key ring and is always at hand.

We take the same attitude into the stories we tell; the stories about ourselves, our work and our lives. We think the more we bombard people with information and stuff, the better the story.

I still catch myself doing this, even after years of working in the radio industry creating very short sound bites, often only 5 to 7 second long.

Today it is a ‘must’ to have a public profile in social media, and so it has become critical that we learn to tell our stories in a short space; short and sweet.

Think of a great soup or a great sauce in cooking. The tastiest are rendered down to their essence. So too, with stories. In film script writing they call it ‘killing your darlings’ where you have to get ready with the razor and take out any fat in your story, even if it is a piece you really love.

Take a hard look at your stories. What is critical to it making sense? What can you really do without. If you find it hard to self edit, work with a trusted friend or colleague, someone you know can be blunt and ‘to the point’ .

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