Story Exchange for Writers:
the most effective way to develop your writing empathy muscle
(useful for creating nuanced & believable characters!)
Something magical happens when we share stories. It connects us, expands our lungs, and builds our capacity for empathy, among many other meaningful things.
Now, imagine not only listening to the other person's story, but that you will be invited to retell that person's story, as you heard it, by "stepping into that person's shoes" —becoming that person, for a few minutes, and they will do the same with the story you tell them.
A story exchange is a proven way to deepen our sense of empathy for the other, the stranger, even the person (in your story) you may not like. Perhaps even hate.
At Maine Writers Studio we offer facilitated story exchange workshops (on zoom and in person) where participants receive story-telling prompts, learn about effective listening and how to "exchange"; are teamed up in pairs, share stories "in private," and then return to the group to share their partner's story.
Every story exchange session ends with a discussion about the value and "take away" of the experience, and the importance of empathy in writing (our) stories.