By Jeff Leisawitz
What hurts you deeply? What’s the scariest, most f*ed up, most traumatic moment of your life? What patterns of dysfunction, failure, or unending pain have been haunting you all your days?
Tap into this darkness. Express it through your characters. Then write a story that matters.
Why do people love movies, TV and stories and general? Because when they’re well written with deep truth and authenticity, they’re artful distillations of the human experience. These stories safely show us how to become our best selves. How to step up. How to heal. How to evolve into the best people we can be.
Being a great and successful screenwriter takes a ton of courage, knowledge and a massive amount of effort. But I believe there’s a missing element that isn’t often stressed— choosing to write stories that deeply matter to you. By doing this you’ll help heal yourself and the dramas in your life as well as offer inspiration to others.
I used to think that everybody was really different. Obviously people have wildly different backstories, histories, experiences. This is all true. What I didn’t understand was that the core themes of our lives are similar. We all want love. We’ve all experienced heartbreak, fear, rejection. We all fail. We all want freedom and respect. If we truly tap into these themes in our writing, our stories become universal.
Healing Ourselves (and Others) Through Writing
One aspect of living a fulfilling life is to put intention and energy into healing our core wounds. It really doesn’t matter how successful you are— if your relationships are crap, you’re swirling endlessly in anxiety and depression, you’re plagued with guilt or remorse— you will be miserable.
As writers, it’s a cheap form of therapy to use the characters we create to imagine stories where our protagonists have the guts to do the things we might not personally be ready for yet. To attempt the impossible. To be fearless in taking action to protect a loved one. To risk everything for honor, love or redemption.
We’ve all missed opportunities. Or taken the easy way out. Or let our fear destroy our truth. By scripting these things, even if no one else ever reads them, we free up the energy that’s been blocked in our psyches. You’ve felt this. You know it’s true.
Sure, you could get into it with your therapist. But, come on, you’re a screenwriter. Write it. Create drama around it. Charge it with real emotion. When you do, your characters and stories will resonate with others in deep, deep ways.
This is why we are writers. We have the courage and skills to tell stories. Stories that everyone else deals with, but generally can’t express very well. I believe this is a core truth of the screenwriter’s life— if we’re doing it right, we heal ourselves and others by fictionalizing our pain, expressing it, and overcoming it in our story.
I know, this sounds like it’s gonna end up as some micro-budget indie film. You want to sell your work and get a decent paycheck. Cool enough. So do I. But here’s the thing. Blockbuster hits without any real soul may make everyone involved a pile of dough. But they almost always drift into obscurity pretty quickly. Are you in this just for the money?
Think about your favorite movies. What did you learn from them? How did they help heal you? Inspire you? What did they teach you? What do you want to teach others?
How to Find Your Core Wounds (and Heal Them)
Although every writer automatically plays out their core wounds in their work whether they’re conscious of them or not, bringing these themes to the surface generally helps. Maybe you’re already plenty conscious of your dark side. Maybe not. Here are a few ways to get in touch with your subconscious to dig into your blind spots.
- Take a step back. A big step back. Look at your life from a wider perspective. Write out these answers. Or better yet, meditate yourself into a quiet place and let the truth surface.
- Is there an aspect of your life where a theme keeps surfacing? Maybe your relationships tend to crash and burn. Maybe you don’t have the guts to drop the day job to follow your dream. Maybe it’s pills, or abuse, or blinding guilt from a tragedy in your youth. Find the themes in your life that hurt you. Dig into them. Write them out.
- Another way to uncover your shadow is by recalling questions that you’ve never really been able to answer. God or science? The good of the one or the good of the many? Do you have to dash your dreams for money? Or love? Or family?
- These are all big questions. And there are plenty of other ones. If you’re asking them to yourself, there’s drama and opportunity to heal.
The deeper you’re willing to go, and the more you’re willing to explore the darkness in your own story, the more you can charge your characters with authentic traits, truths and struggle. And the more you can heal yourself.
These are the movies worth watching. These are the movies that change the world.
Join Jeff Leisawitz for his live webinar,
Create Authentic Characters Using Your Personal Experiences
May 11th at 1:00PM PT
At a Glance:
- This webinar is for bold writers who want to heal their core wounds through their characters and stories.
- Learn to uncover deep emotions, fears and desires to fuel powerful characters and narratives that matter.
- Learn to tap into your core wounds to write with passion, personal truth and authenticity.
About the Author:
Jeff Leisawitz burns with a mission—to inspire screenwriters, artists, filmmakers, musicians and every other creative human to amp up their creativity, heal their hearts and shine in the world. Jeff is an award-winning musician/ producer, a college instructor, a critically acclaimed author and internationally distributed filmmaker who has devoted his life to the art of creativity. Not F*ing Around— the No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground is Jeff’s first book. Get free Rocket Fuel for your creative endeavors at http://jeffleisawitz.com/. Follow Jeff on Twitter @NFAJeff. And between now and May 30 – enter online for a chance to get motivated by Jeff personally to spring into action on your next creative project!