National Storytelling Week with MicroMass
National Storytelling Week is January 26th to February 2nd, 2019.
At MicroMass, our creative department can tell you the story of every piece of work that comes across our desks. Storytelling is central to what we do, both for our work here and in our individual projects. That’s why we’ve asked our Behavioral Copywriters and Art Directors to share a story that they’ve told through their work, and why it was important for them to share it.
To us, creating a story is like taking a slice out of a larger moment in our lives and choosing to find the meaning of it. We can become so concerned with the impact of huge things, sometimes it’s important to take a piece of something small and see what it can teach you.
Stories connect us through empathy to the something larger than ourselves. Sharing a story shouts, “My voice matters,” and creates representation for everyone who can be affected by it. To quote Steve Prefontaine: A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways they’re capable of understanding.
Good writing doesn’t just tell a story, it forces you to understand it.
Storytelling is important because it captures a moment in time. It then allows that moment to be shared with another person. It becomes our history and our legacy. Storytelling depicts the personality of the teller. Someone can be funny, serious, or creative with the words they share. No one will tell the same story.
The image above tells a story of me. This painting is roughly 19 years old. But the story about the subject matter is over 27 years old. I painted it. It is a memory that I really cherish. It is when my husband Ken and I went up on a mountain near Asheville, and talked about building our relationship. How and what we wanted from that relationship. It was my view out of the passenger side of his car. It brings back some really special memories. I can see the fog in the distance as the sun was setting on that day. To some people, a sun setting is the end of the day.
I look at this painting and recall a new beginning.
Storytelling is important to the patients we’re writing to because it’s a universal language. Historically, that’s how information has been passed from person to person and generation to generation.
Storytelling is more memorable than educational material because it’s told in simple language with a plot that captures your interest. It has a sequence of events that you can recall without a lot of effort. And it’s easy to put yourself into a story. To identify with a character.
Once you do that, you can imagine yourself behaving as that character does, a crucial element for behavioral change.
Stories are the connective tissue of the human experience. A story establishes a relationship between strangers, the characters, and the audience, that simply relaying facts or opinions can’t accomplish. A good storyteller pulls you in emotionally and shows you, rather than tells you, something in a new way. People are usually open to appreciating an alternate view when they come to see it on their own. Storytellers let them believe they have.
Storytelling for patients is about putting yourself in their shoes; it’s about empathy. It’s about walking the line between not overpromising or making light of their challenges and encouraging or offering another way to see things. I think it’s important because we try to provide a place from which patients want to engage more, learn more, and question more.
At best, storytelling allows patients to see themselves more clearly and holds space for them to reflect on their personal experience.
Telling a story, for me, is relating to another person and what they’ve experienced. What I write comes from me and my experiences, and can be interpreted in any way by the reader.
Words that capture others and make them feel a semblance of being understood and heard is a comfort I’m honored to be able to share through telling stories.
Why are stories important?
A story can take this:
“Patient A adhered to her pulmonary arterial hypertension therapy and met her goal of walking 30 meters in 25 seconds.”
And turn it into this:
“Maggie stuck to her meal schedule and took her medicine, so when that long-awaited Saturday arrived, she was able to walk her daughter down the aisle.”
Conflict, resolution, and meaning.
That’s why I love stories.
Storytelling is more than just a message. When we read or hear a compelling story, we don’t feel like it’s just being told to us; we feel like we’re active participants who are part of the outcome and can shape the narrative moving forward. When I write for patients, I use storytelling to establish an ongoing dialogue between myself and the reader that continues after they leave a website or close an email.