THX. The audience is listening.
Imagine the moment when you’re sitting in a movie seat. After all the trailers. And the feature film begins.
Now imagine the movie you came to see is YOUR MOVIE.
It’s your life—YOUR STORY—playing out up on the big screen.
If your life were a movie, what genre would it be? A melodrama? A comedy? A dramedy? A thriller? Science fiction/fantasy? Is it a movie you’d pay to see on the big screen or just wait for it to come on Netflix?
And most importantly, are you enjoying it so far? And if not, what’s missing from your movie? How could it be better?
As story coaches, we LOVE to use this “Write Your Life as a Movie” exercise to help our clients see a different perspective on their lives, preferably one that gets the big picture.
As screenwriters, we know how powerful it is because the tools we use to create great fictional character arcs are NOT THAT DIFFERENT than the tools we use to uncover the arc of our own life stories!
The beauty of this exercise is that the simple act of seeing yourself as the screenwriter of your own movie makes you immediately start thinking about whether you're living a really good movie or not. It's YOUR movie after all. Naturally, you're going want it to be one worth watching.
When you think about whether your movie is GREAT, think about this one ingredient that ALL GREAT MOVIES have.
It's an ingredient that all of our favorite movies have in common. In fact, if a Hollywood movie doesn't have THIS ONE THING—AND DEMONSTRATE IT WELL—the movie flops. An audience won't care about the main character. And no matter how many car chases, pyrotechnics or special effects a director throws in, if the story doesn't have THIS, the audience will feel dissatisfied, bored or worse, cheated.
This one thing is called TRANSFORMATION.
Great movies—great stories—show the main character successfully transforming. Going from one thing and then, changing into another. Usually, the other thing is an evolved being with greater awareness and usually more compassion. Through tests and trials, the main character becomes something more.
While we see a character achieving a goal, it's not the goal we really care about. We care that the main character has to overcome his or her weakness or shortcoming—and going after the goal forces him or her to master themselves in the process. In other words, achieving the goal is just a side effect. A bonus. The real high of the experience comes from self knowledge and mastery.
In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker becomes a skilled Jedi and learns how to use the Force for good.
In It's a Wonderful Life, a man on the verge of killing himself learns how the world would have been depraved had he never been born, and so understands how to see the richness and purpose of his life through the love of his family and friends.
In Tootsie, Michael must overcome his chauvinistic ways through his experiences of literally being a "woman." By walking in a woman's shoes, he grows to have respect for the opposite sex.
Seeing a transformation is a powerful experience, so this life-writing exercise is all about finding where it exists in your own life story.
Personal Mythology Life-Writing Exercise:
What have you been put here on this planet to do? Who are you? Why are you here?
Why have you been born into the body you have?
Why do you live in the city you do?
When you begin to look at the details of your entire life, when you look at it like the script of a movie, many of these answers organically come into crisper focus.
Now, consider an overarching theme to your story? Is there a theme that seems to replay itself again and again?
What do you call YOUR MOVIE? What's its title?
And most importantly, how has the main character of YOU been asked to TRANSFORM? Or, how are you being asked to transform now?
What are you being asked to CONFRONT? Or what have you already confronted? How have the biggest challenges of your life forced you to look at certain aspects of who you are? How have you been changed by these experiences?
P.S. If you come up with a great title for your movie, please share it in the comment section below. Here's an example of some titles our clients have come up with, "The Odyssey," "A Charmed Life," "A Bumpy Road to Acceptance," "There's No Perfect Life," and "What a Ridiculous Day It Was Today."
Now go write your life!