You have probably landed here via the Facebook Group – Untold Stories. My name is Ian Hicken. I have always written since I was a young boy when I would write and perform plays for my family and friends at gatherings and on special occasions. I enjoyed English literature at school and continued writing throughout my teenage years and beyond. I have a box full of stories and notebooks full of ideas that from time to time, I revisit, sometimes cringing and sometimes smiling as the memories and feelings come crashing back. I have always written and always will. Writing or storytelling is an important part of belonging, it connects us with our present, our past, our imagination, hopes and dreams. Writing helps us make sense of who we are and our place in society and it provides us with a sense of self through sharing experiences.
During my career, I wrote and published many academic-based journal articles, developed learning materials and contributed chapters to various books. This was a valuable learning experience for me. I recognised early on that the basic premise of writing was to tell a story that has a purpose, that is fit for the audience it is aimed at, that is clear, that does not make assumptions, that is unified and is coherent. I am not an expert, I am still learning.
I believe that the art of storytelling in undervalued in education. There is, in my experience, a greater emphasis on grammar, punctuation and style than there is on telling the story.
Storytelling is a big part of our day to day life in so many ways, whether it be reading or writing a news report, watching TV, reading books, compiling a business plan, writing an email to complain about poor service or chatting with family about the day we have had. We tell a story when we describe events and happenings around us or recall a conversation we had with an old friend. Stories connect us to our emotions. Effective storytelling helps us to understand and make sense of what is being said. Poor storytelling leaves us confused, ill-informed, disappointed and disinterested.
A key issue that challenges aspiring writers is a lack of confidence and fear of criticism. That feeling where you doubt your own ability to tell the story, fear that people will not like it and that it is not worth their time or effort. Another key issue is not knowing where to begin and how to tell the story. You might have a good idea but it lacks substance and direction. This results in too much time thinking about it rather than getting your thoughts down on the page. Procrastination is a writer’s worst enemy. Just write… the grammar, punctuation and editing albeit important, can be corrected at a later stage.
There is no doubt in my mind that writing is cathartic, challenging, hard work, exciting, sometimes disheartening but most of all enjoyable. Whatever your writing ambitions, we can learn from each other by sharing our experiences and supporting each other as we learn the craft of storytelling. I am no expert in creative writing but I hope to share my passion and through this blog, the Facebook Group and the monthly writing challenges, I hope that we will find the motivation to challenge ourselves to write and to support each other as we develop our writing styles and ability to tell a worthy story.