“Paper: It May Burn, but It Won’t Crash”: The Story Behind the Idea

Here’s an essay I wrote last night for Poynter.org called “Paper: It May Burn, but It Won’t Crash.” I got the idea for this piece from one of my good friends, who indirectly reminded me about the importance of not just thinking, but talking about your stories — your own life story and the stories you write, hear and read.

Sure, you can mull over a story idea in your head, or scribble notes on napkins when inspiration decides to visit you in the bread aisle of the grocery store, but when you talk about your ideas, you can better articulate the meaning of your story, the “why should I care?” of your story.

I’ve been doing a lot of talking lately, and it’s helped me to think about purpose and meaning and how these play into writing. When I tell people I’m writing a story, they’ll often say, “Ooo, you should check out this Web site,” or “Have you read this study?” I then have that many resources to peek at and ponder over. That’s how I came to write my most recent essay. I prepared, prodded, peeked, poked and pondered. It’s a strategy that works for me.

What strategies do you have for developing your story ideas?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

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