#MentorMonday: Hannah Teachout

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Today's #MentorMonday is writer Hannah Teachout (@hmteachout)! Read about her spark for storytelling, her writing process, and how she incorporates playfulness with writing below!

What would you define as your spark; that thing that makes you feel most alive, your passion, dream or purpose? Story is my spark, both in reading and listening to them but especially writing them and helping others find their own voice through writing.

I love that stories bring people together, build a sense of community and break down feelings of isolation. It's this love that means I always have book (or two or three) in my bag and a handful of notecards if an idea strikes.

How did you find your spark?

Stories have always been a part of me. I inhaled books when I was younger and nothing has changed. I studied communication in college because I believed if we could shape messages into narrative, we could relate to people. But writing my own stories only came about in the last couple years, after a pivotal realization of how stories have impacted me and newfound belief that I had something worth sharing as well. It took a while before an idea actually struck but since then I have strung together word after word after word to tell stories about friendship and loneliness and hope.

How do you nurture your spark?

The biggest obstacle I face when it comes to writing stories is me. I have to shut down the inner critic and perfectionist and give myself permission to be creative which means making mistakes. I will never get it right on the first try. So I remind myself with a quote from Jodi Picoult, "You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page." The other way I nurture my spark is through observation. The truest stories are the ones surrounding us. Sometimes it's through friendship and family, but sometimes it's through an observed action on public transit. Having an outward focus has really opened my eyes to the world around me, I feel more connected because I pay attention.

 

What is one piece of advice you'd give to young girls and/or moms raising daughters?

The most powerful stories we tell are the ones we tell ourselves. Be conscious of the words and tone you use to talk about yourself and to yourself, because you are the protagonist of your story! And when things don't work out the way you hope, remember that it is just another chapter behind you and move forward to the next one and make it better.

Our theme for June is playfulness! How do playful acts relate to living out your spark?

As a writer, I think the best stories are told because the writer was having fun, telling the story they way they want to. It isn't about trying to fit into someone else's concept of what it should look like, or what is popular. When something becomes a drudgery to work on, it shows. For me, when I hit a block in my writing, I like to dream up silly situations or banter between two characters until I can find that chemistry of the story again. It's rooted in having fun!

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