What’s Your Story? By Catharine Bramkamp

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “What’s Your Story?” Enjoy!


Remember the sixties mantra, “What’s your story, man?”

It resonated because your story was important. Your story reflected who you were and who you wanted to be.

It was the story of why you were here, right now in this park, at this concert, in this party.

Your story could be your family and your heritage, but often it was decidedly not.

Your story was written and performed by you alone.

New Story

The acceptance that anyone was just now inventing their new story was invented in the US and refined to a fine art in California.

What’s your story? asks the question: What are you currently doing to reinvent yourself and your life? Implying that we don’t care where you came from, what are you now, today.

The story is very much about future aspirations as well as an entertaining way to explain your current situation.

The new world demanded stories.

If you, the third child of four in line for whatever property was left after the Restoration, traveled for long tedious months on a leaky boat to reach the shores of what promised to be a great new place and opportunity (because you believed), and what you found fell considerably short of expectations, how do you describe the experience to the family back in the old country?

You invent. You write out a new story about the experience. And in the American tradition of storytelling, you also exaggerated. Yup, you wrote home. The streets ARE paved with gold, I’m fine, will write more soon.

Some stories ended up published and read. Some were just a way to get through the day as well as get through the famous new-world streets that were, in fact, paved in excrement and garbage.

You had to make up a new story. It was the only way to survive.

But what if it’s the wrong story?

I work with clients who not only cannot describe or express their essential story, they can’t land on the story, not even as a party trick.

Some abdicate the responsibility and appoint a committee to create the company story.

This is how vaguely worded mission statements and lengthy “values” are created, each sentence representing the agenda of every individual committee member in the room: wasted time and energy.

You cannot attract what you want in your business or life if your story doesn’t work.

A real story is bold and daring.

A real story is exciting and something you never tire of hearing or telling.

I know, self evident, but we often only ascribe bold and daring to start-ups or slaying dragons.

Boldness comes from dropping a stake in the ground and having the courage to stand in its narrow shadow.

But you say, I am everything. The book is for everyone. This project will be monumentally popular. This story is universal.

That is the way of a committee cobbled story, a mechanism of arms, legs, sails and feet that stands, but cannot coordinate well enough to move forward.

You want to move forward.

So then, fine, how can you write up a good personal story?

Connect your heart back to your head.

  • What is it you really want?

It may take a few tries and a couple hours writing in your journal to get there, but worth the exercise.

  • What do you really want?
  • How do you want to introduce yourself?
  • What should your bio, that short introduction before the full detailed story, say about you and where you want to go?
  • What are you proud of?
  • Why do you live here and not there?
  • How did your family or background help you?
  • How do you express your authenticity?
  • What is specific to you?
  • What is the narrow shadow once the stake is in the ground?

Record your own truth, describe your unique experiences and viewpoint.

Ironically, the more specific and honest you are, the more appealing your story will be to others.


Our stories are interesting only when they reveal the essence of who we are and what we really want in the world. Those specific, detail-rich stories are compelling and driving, and when you are clear, armed with a good story, you will find just the right audience to listen.

Which is all we need.

What is your story? Discover more:  https://story-university.teachable.com

Join us in Carmel this Fall 2019 for Writers Boot Camp, Creating a Scene https://www.writingforlifeworkshops.com.



Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.

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