Follow the Yellow Brick Road

“Follow the yellow brick road,” Dorothy and her friends were told in The Wizard of Oz.

It would lead them to the Wizard, who would give them all that they so desperately desired.

Bob Sands here, and I’m sorry to say there is no yellow brick road that you can simply follow to get to the writer’s life.

No one is going to give you what you want or going to do it for you. But if you look a little closer, though, you will find that you already have all that you need inside of you.

This week, we are talking about tapping into the power of your unique story to transform your writing and your life. See, your writing only becomes compelling when it’s YOUR writing.

When you take all that has made (and makes!) you who you are and channel that into your work, it transforms minds and hearts. Your story has the power to captivate, connect, and convince. It is one of the most potent strategies that you can incorporate into your copywriting.

Here’s the key thought to remember: you already have all the stories you need; you just have to connect the dots.

Life is full of stories. We have drama taking place around us every day. Why not use that drama in your copywriting? Of course, you’ll have to shape the experience into something usable, and you may have to change the names to protect the innocent!

I’m fond of acronyms, so let’s use D.R.A.M.A. to help remember the five key areas where we’ll find all the stories we will ever need.

D is for Disappointments. Life is fraught with them, isn’t it? But it is true that we learn more from the difficulties than we do the good times. It seems like there is an opportunity in every disappointment. Find that lesson and use it in your copywriting.

Several years ago, I was duped into working on a political campaign for a man who was running for a rather significant office in our county. At first, I was uneasy, but he did everything he could to settle my unrest. I spent a lot of time getting things organized. I knew there was problem when the first check he gave me bounced. Then the second one did the same. I immediately withdrew from the campaign. Months later, the authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. The last I heard, he is still on the run. The lesson I learned is to always listen to my gut.

R is for Relationships. Every relationship has its own story, whether it be family, work, or community. I used a bad experience with a funeral prearrangement sales manager to write a sales letter on the problems that funeral homes face when trying to sell prearrangements. That very successful letter was born out of that negative relationship.

A is for Achievements. What have you learned from your achievements in life? How about the achievements of others? There is often a story lurking in the shadows of the struggle on that road to success.

M is for Mentors. What stories have you learned from the people that have led you? What examples have they demonstrated? Authors and leaders both past and present come in handy here. Someone once remarked to Helen Keller, “It must be difficult to not be able to see.” Her response was thoughtful and insightful. She said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

A is for Adventures. What stories are embedded in the adventures that you have experienced in life? I’m sure there are many! For me, I’ve been zip-lining in Costa Rica, parasailing in Mexico, and whitewater rafting in the mountains of North Carolina. Each of these events is chock-full of experiences that I can use to get my message across in various ways to an audience. During our whitewater raft excursion, our tour guide told us to keep paddling when we hit the rapids because that was one of the keys to prevent capsizing the raft. That’s true in life too. We can’t quit moving when the waters get rough.

If you want to know more about how to tap into the well of stories already inside you, take a look at my article here.

Have a story from the “DRAMA” of life that you’d like to tell? Why not practice sharing it in the comments section?

Join me tomorrow for our third installment of The Writer’s Life when I give you, as the Godfather says, “ … an offer you can’t refuse.”

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Published: June 12, 2012

3 Responses to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”

  1. Bob ~

    How would you suggest using story and One Big Idea theme for an individual bio website section? Is there such a thing as "too many life experiences" for 1 story?

    Thanks, Tia D.

    Tia Dobi

  2. Thanks for writing this article. I enjoyed reading it.

    What you really want to do in order to write any compelling story is to broaden your horizons.

    In a word, travel.

    And I just don't mean visiting exotic locales around the world--although that can be useful. After all, some of the most creative people have been itinerant souls blessed with wanderlust like Twain.

    What I really mean is travel by using the gift of your imagination.

    Cultivating a variety of hobbies, for example, will make you a better writer. And your audience will appreciate you. It can also make you a better and more ineresting person during cocktail hours.

    Archan Mehta

  3. Last night our doorbell rang. It was our next door neighbor who is caretaker for a couple of mentally challenged sweethearts in their 40’s.

    She said that they had called 911 because of a strong electrical smell they had, and that she wanted to let us know about it.

    Soon the fire trucks arrived along with the paramedics, cops and I swore Barney Pfeiff was trigger ready to fire a warning shot into anyone breaching the perimeter.

    My 27-year old daughter was standing outside next to me watching all the activity and said, “Oooooooh a cute little old fire guy.”

    I looked at her and laughed, “What did you just say?”

    “That little short guy about 65-years old there, I wasn’t expecting him to be that old, and he’s just a ‘cute little old fire guy’.”

    My wife standing a couple feet away said, “Oh, that’s Stump, that’s what they call him… Stump.”

    Well while they were discussing this,

    Brad Dunse

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