Yes, I believe in success formulas.
For just about everything.
(In work, life, and love.)
Okay. So if you want to be a successful writer (or creative artist),
read through to the end of this post.
Because writing has success formulas, too.
* Look at Blake Snyder‘s Beat Sheet. Following Snyder’s formula, movies surge through the box office to pulse in our veins. We remember the movies: their meaning, their message, and how they made us feel.
* Look at Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and The Hero’s Journey. Following Campbell’s formulas, books surge through bestseller lists and into our cognitive and emotional pathways. We remember the journey, the challenges, and the characters like they’re our friends.
* And I believe that we’re hardwired for story ––
hardwired to receive epiphanies, challenges, and emotional catharsis through story. Time after time, story captures and changes us.
You may not like formula, but it’s there.
And it works.
I sat in the movie theater two nights ago enveloped in The Edge of Tomorrow, breathing Blake Snyder’s beats, ticking them off one by one. And I loved it. The formula worked — the beats of story lined up perfectly. The opening image…the setup…the theme stated…the catalyst….right up to the mirrored closing shot. To me, the movie met all my expectations, and then some.
The operative word.
We go about life with expectations.
Some good, some bad.
Regardless, we like to have our expectations met.
The fulfillment of expectations brings certainty.
As artists, we have to meet expectations…while also bringing freshness to the formula. We all know The Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhog Day with a twist. Yep. Same concept. Same premise. Same players. Different setting and scenarios. How did the writers get away with it? They made the twist twisty enough.
(By the way, Robbins also says that we need uncertainty. Hence the need for the twist.)
The Formula vs. The Twist
How much do we stick to the formula? How much do we deviate from the formula (how much of a twist is too much)? I believe balance is learned, then practiced — to learn the skills of the formula, and then to know how much to push the artistry into difference, beyond the receiver’s expectations. It’s something we have to try out.
Learn the formulas. Use the formulas.
Then, yeah, just get creating and see where it goes.
Push the formula. Then push it a little more.
Oh. And here’s an Aside Life Application (of course)
(You know me — loving life application):
Life truths (formulas) make for our lifestory’s success.
(Covey’s Law of the Farm is a formula to pay attention to.)
(Maxwell has Seven Laws.)
(Blanchard says we need to get to higher levels of interaction.)
(Goldsmith says our formulas work to a point, but we need to be careful to not let our formulas be our downfall.)
(And on and on. There’s no shortage of life truths and formulas.)
Ignore the life formulas, and you get way off track. Yeah. Bad.
So. Really. Get to the good. Get going, get learning. There are a lot of formulas ready for us, waiting for us.
Let’s. Use. Them.
They will save you (and me) from a lot of wrong thinking, hurtful actions, and pain that could have been avoided.
And. As we write today
(or draw today)
(or paint today)
(or take that photograph today)
(or whatever-create today),
may we know the formulas and use them.
(May the formulas be with you.)
Balance between formula (certainty) and twist (uncertainty) creates the best result.
PS. Here’s a list of Leadership Gurus with a lot of great formulas.
PPS. Okay, let’s not forget Zig Ziglar. Read or listen to him, and you’ll find success formulas growing all over the place.
PPPS. And, oh yes, Nick Vujicic‘s life truths. POWERFUL. Watch this.