The Story Behind “STORIES FROM THE OUTSIDE INN” – The Web Site

Stories from the Outside Inn sprang from the kind of late night discussion you’d expect if the participants were ingesting some sort of inebriant. Nick Kemp and myself, however, were quite sober, I assure you. Nick had been telling me about a book he’d discovered called “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure,” in which people wrote six-word stories – entire lives summed up in six words – that were remarkably wonderful. It was inspired by a literary legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged in a bar to write a story in only six words, and he wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Then I told Nick about an interesting experience I’d had while jogging recently while listening to my iPod. For fun, I’d put the iPod on the “shuffle” mode where it plays songs from you entire collection at random. My ipod had a wide variety of music but not all the tracks played at random were music. I’d be listening to a selection from a Beatles album and the next track would be a section of a Hypnosis seminar by Stephen Gilligan. This would be followed by a movement of a Brandenburg Concerto by Bach, followed by a Frank Zappa tune, followed by a trance induction by Richard Bandler. It was wild.

So we started thinking about how we might record a bunch of very short trances that would have nothing to do with each other, each with a precise time limit. We thought we might create musical intros and outros for each piece and put them together where a person could just listen to them randomly, like I had done on my iPod. We imagined that we could create a web site like a big house and each room would contain different stories, so when the visitor to the web site explored the house, they’d come across these different stories in different orders depending on which room they entered. We imagined that we might have a library within the house who’s books could be animated icons for the different stories. We thought that the house could be a hotel or an Inn where people would come and visit.

We thought this was such a fun idea that we actually did it. He and I both created several 5-minute trances – exactly 5 minutes – and recorded brief musical intros and outros for each. We enlisted the aid of a graphic artist to create image of an Inn and a web expert to make it functional. You can go there and explore it yourself. It is at http://www.storiesfromtheoutsideinn.com.


Stories from the Outside Inn became a seminar last year in Leeds, England. It’s basically a story telling workshop. It helps people to create good stories or good trances (5 minutes total, of course) and then helps people to get better at telling them. We teach about metaphor construction and Hypnotic Language patterns, we teach about vocal inflection and dramatic tension. We also teach about recording techniques and introduce the use of video as well.

Of course, everyone knows that Milton Erickson famously used stories and metaphors therapeutically in his hypnosis work, so we expected we’d get some hypnotists who wanted to improve their skills. But people from many different backgrounds attended – therapists, teachers, seminar leaders, coaches, actors and writers – and it was delightful! It was, perhaps, about the most fun we’re ever had in a seminar weekend. People created wonderful stories and were going far beyond what they ever thought they could in this arena. Many of the stories students wrote and recorded have been added to the Outside Inn Website. They’re in the guest house attached to the main building. (You have to enter through the window.)


Nick is sailing over from Leeds to join me in presenting a PREVIEW evening in NEW YORK CITY on October 22nd. Why don’t you join us and see for yourself what its all about? It’s only $22. We’ll be offering the full scale weekend seminar in New York in March of 2011.

If you’d prefer to get a jump on the New York and event and join us in Leeds, we’ll be in Leeds, UK, on December 4th and 5th, 2010.

To join us in New York on the 22nd, click here> https://ericksonian.com/-MAIN/?page_id=16

To join us in Leeds, England in December, click here> http://www.nickkemp.com/spartcart/product/stories-from-the-outside-inn-with-nick-kemp-and-doug-obrien-dec-2010.htm

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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