Jonathan Fleming

I Think Life’s Alright:
Incorporating Your Personal Story Makes You a Better Storyteller
May 8-12, 2023
Anderson Gallery

In partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Arts in Teaching in Visual Arts
Samantha Cushman

For as long as I can remember, I have consciously recognized my ability to tell stories. Ever since I could pick up a pencil, I have been writing and drawing. As I got older, I consumed every resource I could on proper storytelling, and it is here where I noticed that the best storytellers in the world are all talking about the same thing - Incorporating your personal story makes you a better storyteller. By incorporating personal experiences into stories, what the creator finds interesting about themselves becomes an outlet to help make stories more interesting for the audience.

Incorporating true life events allows the artist to create believable characters who are flawed as well as situations that have the specificity of real life. This method of storytelling allows the audience to relate to the work more openly. For the creator, developing stories with these elements can be cathartic, or therapeutic, allowing for mental distance to observe their own experience. For my own practice, I have learned to keep this basic rule in my work.

When my personal experiences are built into a story, suddenly my writing has something simultaneously relatable and unique to the audience. On a basic human level, sharing our experiences is how we communicate in everyday life. When I meet someone new, the general rule of thumb is to tell them a little something about myself. Now, that story can change depending on the person I am meeting and the social situation, but I am telling a story I think would be interesting to them. I think when it comes to writing fiction, this is the part that can be forgotten by many fledgling creators. As a teacher, it is also my job to make this connection for my students and make them notice this important narrative strategy.

Further reading: I Think Life’s Alright: Incorporating Your Personal Story Makes You a Better Storyteller