Storyboarding by Walt DisneyWhat is Storyboarding, and why should you do it?

Storyboarding originated in its present form through Walt Disney. A fellow Missourian who drew individual scenes, and laid each shot out in sequence on a bulletin board. This enabled him to see an overview of his animated movies, or the big picture. (Pun intended.)

I imagine Walt pinning and unpinning, as he moved scenes around, added new ideas, and threw a few away in the process. I’m sure his trash can overflowed at times. I’ll bet Mickey Mouse changed clothes a time or two.

But what does Storyboarding have to do with you? 

Storyboarding , like Mind Maps, allow us to use text and/or images to represent a sequence of events. The process certainly enhances our ability to create something brand new. But I’ve learned we need to get out of our way, before we can cut loose and really fly. So before using the Storyboarding process for a work project, an upcoming event, or even to look for a job, I strongly suggest you use it to review your past.

This powerful technique changed my life. Following the Storyboarding process, I’ve been set free from some things I didn’t even realize were holding me back.Storyline Conference by Donald Miller

I first learned how to use this process for my personal growth when I attended Donald Miller’s Storyline conference in 2011. Fresh off the revelation of a dramatic family secret that changed my life forever, I was ripe for healing. Storyline didn’t disappoint.

We were given an interactive workbook, and two days full of guided activities, inspirational storytelling, and opportunites for intimate sharing. I left a different person than the one who arrived. And I learned I can go through this process anytime I need a refresher cleansing from past hurts, wounds, disappointments, and regrets. Storyboarding helped me face my life history so I could fly into my future.

Here are the steps I’ve taken, and lessons learned from my personal Storyboarding experience:

  1. Storyline Workbook by Donald MillerThough I highly recommend Donald Miller’s conference, an effective Storyboarding process can be done on your own with little expense. 
  2. Make sure you have a Storyline interactive workbook, or a fresh notebook to start.
  3. Find a place of quiet and solitude. Even fifteen minutes can offer miraculous results.
  4. If you’re using your notebook, draw a straight line across two pages. This represents a timeline of your life. The farthest point to your left is your birth, while the farthest point to your right, is your current present. If you have the Storyline workbook, it will guide you through the process.
  5. Close your eyes and try to recall your earliest memory. Place it on the board, represented with a dot near your birth, depending on how early it happened.
  6. Now get a separate piece of paper, and allow your mind to drift in a free-flow brainstorming session. Start jotting down every memory you think made a difference, altered your life, or changed your course from where you were heading. Don’t worry about how your list looks on the page, or what anyone else might think about events from your past. This is for your eyes only.
  7. As much as we might want to, you can’t throw parts of your life in the trash can. They have a way of jumping out and affecting your daily life. Better to uncrumple painful events and face them head on.
  8. Be prepared for this brainstorming session to cause a sense of discomfort, mild depression, or even anxiety. When we bury negative emotions, and force ourselves into a state of unresolved grief, it is difficult to unearth them. But resist the urge to leave them unattended. It’s crazy how old things shoved into the dark creavices of our souls can fester, causing emotional ooze to splatter on all of the good things we want in our lives.
  9. If needed, allow yourself a few days of mental processing time. Let your dredged memories rest in the sunlight of conscious thought. But set a specific date and time to come back to your Storyboarding. No later than one week from your brainstorming session. Otherwise, you will probably stuff your thoughts, feelings, and memories again, which means you will be forced to deal with them later, probably in a much more painful way. Or even worse, you will unknowingly keep yourself stuck in a perpetual state of discontent.
  10. When you return to your Storyboard, brainstormed memory list in hand, start placing past events on your timeline. Jot shorthand notes, or draw an image to remind you what the dot stands for. It’s okay if you need to move things around, add, or alter. Just be as true as possible to yourself.
  11. Give yourself the gift of time as you place symbols from your life on your timeline. If it takes hours, days, weeks, or months, then so be it. The key is not to quit.
  12. Once you’ve added everything from your list, (and I’m sure like me, you probably remembered more life-changing events once you started placing points on your board), take a deep breath and say a prayer, asking for wisdom and peace.
    Storyboarding for Success by Anita Brooks
    Storyboarding for Success
  13. When you see an image of your entire life represented on that timeline, get ready for a very positive life change. Yes it was hard, and yes there were plenty of painful moments while you processed this, we’ve all got skeletons in our pasts, but you did it. And now, you have the opportunity to see patterns and habits ingrained in you as you’ve reacted to your own unique experiences.
  14. Do you have a better idea of who you are and why? I did. And it freed me to forgive myself, choose some things differently, and move beyond what had happened before that moment. I can learn from my past, but I’m no longer stuck in it.
  15. I am not a therapist, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or doctor. If you need a professional to guide you through severe trauma in your past, then please go get that help. Storyboarding is not the end all, it’s actually the beginning. It can set you on the road to deep healing, understanding, and freedom. And it has several uses.
  16. The Storyboarding process is also highly effective to process ideas, projects, upcoming events, or anything else you desire to do. Simply use the same process with a few tweaks. Instead of brainstorming your past memories, brainstorm possible future scenes. Let your mind go wild with possible scenarios.
  17. There are a few ways to do it. Draw your timeline, and add events in pin-point fashion. Like Walt Disney, draw scenes and place them in sequence on your Storyboard. You can use a bulletin board to pin and unpin as needed. For writers, Scrivener is an amazing piece of software to do this electronically. As I think about it, I guess anyone could use Scrivener to Storyboard anything they wanted. If you Google Storyboarding images, you can find many other resources.
  18. Ultimately, here’s the point. Drawing a picture of life, whether past events or future endeavors, helps us see things we otherwise miss. To know yourself, or know where you’re going before you start, is the key to Storyboarding for success. You can map a brighter tomorrow, but only you know what to track.