Everyday I set myself the goal to tell a good story. Where? On Instagram of course, check it out (shameless plug i know). The reason I fell in love with the story tool on Instagram lately is simple: As Casey Neistat stated, it is just like watching TV but instead of zapping through the different TV channels, you are zapping through the life of your friends and role models. In the end we are all longing for connection and seeing what the people we emphasize with are up to on an everyday basis (or at least almost) gives us the feeling that we are close to them.
If Peter McKinnon travels to Dubai to shoot some sick videos I know it, if Vivienne Liu is exploring the urban areas of Hong Kong to find new spots for her portraits I am there, gazing at the scene. If my old friend from university gets a new job I went with him through the process. I saw him pressing the send button when he applied. I saw his face when he went into the interview and cheered him up when he came back out. I was there when he received the notice that he got the job. And even though I am in Japan, thousands of miles away right now I went with him to celebrate. Of course I also know every single meal that Clara ate in the past years and can go to sleep resting assured that the cute little pug of Anna is in perfect health.
It’s the little things in life that matter the most and being able to see Annas pug romping around sometimes is just as good as seeing the exciting life of Peter McKinnon travelling the world. But still not all stories are the same or lets say equally good. And this is where the challenge kicks in.
First of all Instagram itself comes with its own limitations. The time each page of your story is shown is short and even shorter the attention of your audience. Not only do you need to compress the content of your story within the scene, but also you need to keep the overall length of your story to a bearable amount. A story of 20 Pages is much more likely to get completely skipped after just a few seconds, making all your efforts going to waste.
But limitations and conditions of the platform aside, the biggest challenge in creating an interesting daily story is usually not that you have too much material. At least for me it is more often than not quite the opposite. See, the problem is that no matter how interesting your life might be in comparison, for yourself it is still normality. I believe for myself that I am lucky to lead a slightly more exciting life than the average person (which is probably exactly what the average person is thinking), but yet still I often struggle to find something in my daily life worth telling a story about. Sure on some days everything sets up itself and all you need to to is pull out your phone to point and shoot. But on most days this is not the case. On most days I spend my time doing the stuff that I always do: work, eat, sleep, repeat. I usually don’t think about a story I might could tell if I were conscious about it. Instead I typically end up with nothing worth showing at the end of the day and decide that the only possible way to still deliver is to make some sort of food review of my dinner. Pretty boring isn’t it?
That is something I thrive to change. Good stories are literally all around us. If it’s a problem we need to solve, a task we need to perform or even about the dinner we are going out to eat, everything can be a story. I’ve become to notice that it is often more about how you are spinning the story around your subject then your subject itself. Just think about it for moment. When I look on to my Instagram story feed I see a lot of bits. Single pages where the content speaks for itself. Low context and rarely any real story. Sometimes this is all that’s needed. Sometimes all you want is a single impression. You could even argue that it leaves room for own imagination and therefore becomes more impactful. But more often I feel that those unconnected bits are just too forgettable to leave a real impression.
If we look at the before mentioned example of dinner what immediately comes to my mind, are images of delicious food posted by my friends. But most of the time it is only the food, nothing more. When you think about what a story consist of broken down to its simplest parts it is 1. a Introduction, 2. the main part and last but maybe most important 3. some sort of climax and conclusion. To come back to the example, in case of dinner it could look something like: 1. Entering the restaurant 2. eating 3. leaving the restaurant.
Sounds not too special yet, but I guarantee that even this little change will already make a huge difference. All that is left is to shape our story around this simple concept. Maybe we introduce a protagonist or add a twist. How to frame is in the end up to everyone on its own. But in order to think about the “how” you have to think about the “what” in the first place.
I would like to start thinking in the structure of a story rather than an single event, which is why I set myself the goal to publish a story of my life every single day. I believe that the skill to come up with a story in literally every situation is impacting once life in a huge way, a positive nonetheless. Especially for myself since my job is to create stories around things I get told to.
In the end we all love good stories and I want to be someone who creates those. If one of the stories that I tell leaves an impact, if I connect to someone thanks to that, these are the moments I put in the effort for. And it will we worth it!