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Do You Know What You Want?

I was taking a walk with a friend who has written well-known films and plays that have won awards and been performed all around the world.

While we were walking, I asked him questions about his creative process. And, as I’m prone to do, I could apply everything he was saying about writing TO LIFE.

He told me that, before writing a script, you need to know what each of the character wants.

Having a BFA in theater I knew the terminology and was happy to show off, You mean their objectives, right?

I remember in each play I ever performed, making a note next to EVERY one of my lines clearly defining my objective:

Get him to give that to you . . .

Don’t let her leave the room until she hears you . . .

When you’re saying this, you want validation . . .

My conversation with my friend made me think:

What if, as a conscious, awake being, I was aware of what I wanted in every action and sentence I spoke?

I know that’s pretty impossible. But what if I COULD know my true intentions behind them?

And what if I remained aware of what responses I invoked in another person? If, in each moment, I was clear and present enough to connect with the other “actor”?

The second thing my friend told me was that, as a playwright and screenwriter, he needed to know what the audience wanted.

In other words, how did they want to feel when the show was over? And (even if they didn’t like him or her) what did they want to GET from each character?

In writing terms, they call this an arc. The purpose is to move a character or a situation from one state to another to effect change and transformation.

As an audience we get to witness the inner-growth each character goes through as they evolve as a person. (Or DON’T and instead experience a demise, depending on the character.)

That made me think about the opportunity we have to be cognizant of the arc of our own life’s stories.

Too often, we go about our lives not concerned with how and where we want to end up INSIDE of ourselves.

Do we think mindfully about how we want to get from Point A to Point B in our day-to-day or in the bigger scheme of things?

Do we wonder WHAT we want to learn and HOW we want to grow?

If we were the audience for our own show called LIFE, are we paying attention to how we want to feel when a particular storyline is over?

Are we aware of a certain life problem and how we want to experience its resolve?

Do we consider the particular choices we make (either positive or negative) and how they take us along the arc from weakness into strength?

I think it’s possible that this is why we all love stories so much, and why we watch films and TV shows and go to see plays and read books. Ultimately, as we accompany each character on his or her journey, we come to know our own selves (and others) better.

So . . . let’s pretend we’re the actor or writer of our life.

What story will we create? What are our objectives? Where do we want to be (or feel) as we take our bow and the curtain falls?

Wishing you clear intentions this week!

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Lynn Newman