THE DEATH (and resurrection) OF A STORY
The greatest tragedy that can destroy your story, is the impending threat that one day you’ll wake up and forget why you love your story. You will suddenly realize you don’t even know why you’re writing this story, in fact, you’re not sure you even like it anymore.
This often raises its poisonous head and strikes while you are between rewrites or after you have invested long hours into the story. The script is not what it once was, but it’s not what it should be...yet.
Lost, and often so consumed with trying to “fix” the story by focusing on editing, imposing rules of storytelling, adding dramatization, the list is endless, but the fact remains the same; The story had died, the issue was at the foundation of the story not the details. My brother describes writing as, “building legos, if you build a crappy foundation but embellish the details - it’s still crappy and still falls apart. So now you have fancy crap.”
The reason a story dies, is because it dies inside us first. The heart of the story, the reason why you wrote it, and what you are saying, is the heartbeat of every tale worth telling. The number one reason why this film lives and stays alive. So consumed had I become in trying to fix the story that I lost sight of why I loved my story, I forgot what I wanted to say and focused only on what I needed to do.
Sensing I was in the deathly hollows of my script, I knew I needed evasive actions to reclaim the story - by going back to the heart. Here are my personal antidotes I discovered in my pursuit to reclaim the heart of the story, and how I found a new structure for keeping the story from dying.
/ STEP AWAY
The first thing I did was STEP AWAY! Leave your story behind. Yes, forget about it for a few weeks. Go live life, climb a mountain, go out to eat with friends, invent a new way to drink coffee. You’re practically useless until you can breath, and clear your head. If you’re going to do this thing, you need a fresh perspective, one that only comes with time and space. I am also a firm believer that sometimes the reason we get stuck is because we need to live more of our story before we can tell more of the story. Its amazing what ideas come when you’re mowing the lawn, or eating a burrito.
// WRITE A CREED
I was so convicted by how I allowed myself to kill the story, that one of the first things I did was write a personal creed for myself. If I was going to move forward, I needed to hold myself accountable to a higher standard of writing and responsibility to the story. I share with you my personal writing creed in hopes that you write your own - or take it as your own!
1). HEART OF THE STORY - Keep the heart of the story close. Never forget why you believe in this story.
2). Write with HONESTY, not entertainment.
3). Write something you're proud of, be MOVED by what you write.
/// ESTABLISH A RHYTHM
Building a habit of writing is far more productive for me then setting goals and deadlines. Mondays have been set aside as my writing day. That means that on Mondays I stay away from emails, appointments, and anything that is a distraction. I keep the whole day open for me to write, think, brainstorm, explore. Just giving myself the space, permission and freedom to write is a HUGE start. Whether that means staying home all day or going out to a coffee shop, I go wherever I need to be to focus and write. Setting aside a day each week has been more productive for me than trying to do it whenever I can.
//// GET HANDS ON
I give you - THE WALL OF STORY! The Wall Of Story came about from my frustration with always being behind a computer. Often I don’t write due to the fact that I’m sick of being behind a computer screen. So after brainstorming and gleaning ideas from other writers I have compiled my own structure that brings the script off the screen and into an interactive hands-on process. It has been blissful to say the least.
As I reflect back on everything I shared, the realization hit me that all these have to do with creating a lifestyle of writing. When I treat my writing as a hobby with a career responsibility and workload, I starve myself of potential and growth. I realize now that these changes move me away from treating writing as a hobby, into a lifestyle commitment. I hope you are challenged to find a way to make whatever creative talents you hold a lifestyle and not just a hobby.