Growing up I had the opportunity to access stories in pretty much every major medium of then and today, including videogames, comics, books, video, hand-drawn and stopmotion and computer animation, audiobooks, paintings, photographs, and songs. All of these were readily available and commonplace.
But the even greater opportunity I had was seeing as new media opened up to the public and anybody could work in them.
I started drawing comics at the age of 4 on paper, inspired by my brother’s comics. He gave me the concept for my first comic series; I ended up stealing a lot of ideas from him at the time… but over the next years I drew over 200 comic strips and make several comic series.
Sometime between 4 and 6 I started writing books on the computer, on a Windows 98 machine with a big, white/cream-colored, boxy, heavy CRT monitor. My dad was big into tech and taught me how to use Microsoft Office’s Word. I wrote 8+ books between then and around the age of 10 (books which I’ll probably share at some point :P).
Around the age of 10 I started making stop-motion videos, starting with a camcorder that used tapes. My brother introduced me to the concept of doing stop-motion with it: we’d hit “record”, then quickly hit it again to try to capture just one or a few frames at a time before moving the Lego figures who starred in our animations. Later we used a digital camera and took 1MP photos; I mostly made animations about fights between Lego figures. The computer we had was barely powerful enough to put them together, but I still managed to get over 7 made.
Around the age of 11 I began making videogames in GameMaker, and as I got into programming with that I learned basic algebra before I took algebra classes. I completed 6 videogames over the next 5 years.
Around the age of 14 I got into theatre classes and community theatre.
At the age of 15 I got to be a part of an indie film company and acted in over 30 short film productions, winning the CEO award at the age of 16 in 2010. I also wrote 10 20-minute screenplays.
At the age of 16 I started doing freelance video work with my brother. We’d already made some short videos with a point-and-shoot camera that made loud clicking noises every time it autofocused (manual focus was not an option), but those videos got us our first freelance video gigs. We shot 2 book trailers (like movie trailers but for books), 3 children’s musical productions, and 3 weddings. I also got into writing skits for my old theatre school, creating 7; the first that I wrote was favorite of the show, and I was the youngest solo writer (one of the other writers and a director have also commented that it was the best skit ever out of dozens of skits in the 6+ years of the school’s history).
At the age of 17 I started dual-enrolling at Baker College, going for an associate’s degree in Computer Animation. I also began writing The Legend of Sir Cumference, a musical comedy that pushed me to take classes from Berklee College of Music through Coursera on Songwriting and Introduction to Music Production, two fantastic classes with fantastic teachers.
At the age of 18 I began developing Story Forms Theories and started my old blog on story theories. I also began developing Story Core and created the graphics for them. My computer animation professor commented that Story Forms Theories are the type of content you’d have in a doctorate’s dissertation.
Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity to see new opportunities develop for working in any medium if you only have a laptop. Everything is accessible and anything is possible.
Whether you want to make a videogame, comic, book, video, hand-drawn or stopmotion or computer animation, audiobook, painting, photograph, or song- you can do it and the resources are available. And it’s not only possible to make okay or good stories and tell them okay or good in any medium- your work can be extremely high-quality.
If you have any of the mindset of “I wish I could”, stop it. You can, you just need to be willing to learn. To let your curiosity be there. To be uncomfortable for a while.
Discomfort doesn’t cost you anything you can’t spare.
Growing is worth every second.
Hopefully before too long I’ll be able to release my list of completely free software that can be used for telling stories. I have some work to do on that, but once it’s ready to release I’ll post about that for you to check out.
The steps to create what you want to create may be overwhelming. But you can work on smaller projects that lead up to bigger projects, or work on your leadership skills and general knowledge of a medium in order to head up a project and have others willingly and joyfully follow you. You can practice- you can learn- you can grow. You are capable of creating great stories- the kinds that change lives and that people don’t leave but that people take with them- and of changing mindsets and imparting wisdom to every generation. You are capable of creating something more ground-breaking than your greatest mind-expander, more thought-provoking than your greatest brain-racker, more encouraging than your greatest inspiration.
But you have to be willing to take a step. I’ve seen the doors open for stepping into every medium, and they’re open to you as well. Even if you only have whatever you’re reading this on you can create great stories that can open up doors to greater ones.
You might not be able to start producing your dream project yet- but you can work on projects that will get you there. However you need to get there, the opportunities are before you to get there.
Try something new. Experiment. Watch tutorials. Read blogs. Follow people on Twitter who do what you want to do. Resources to learn are everywhere around you. Don’t give up, don’t get down, don’t go by.
And I’ll leave you with this quote from Zig Ziglar:
If you can’t take a huge step to begin with, take as big a step as you can. But take it… now. That’s the key! Take it… now!