Transformation Begins Through Revealing the Arc of the Wound

Jen Grisanti shares the storytelling and character development lessons learned from attending Mindvalley Reunion. Meditation and exploration of wound can help you create more compelling characters and story.


International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc., a Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former twelve-year studio executive, and author of Story Line, TV Writing Tool Kit, and Change Your Story, Change Your Life. Keep track of Jen’s upcoming events on Facebook and Twitter, @jengrisanti, and listen to her Storywise Podcast. Read Jen’s full bio and sign up for her Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot video series.

Jen Grisanti shares the storytelling and character development lessons learned from attending Mindvalley Reunion. Meditation and exploration of wound can help you create more compelling characters and story.

Photography by Kersti Niglas & Karen Harms

As an author of the book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success, I am always desiring to know and understand more about what creates transformation. What are actions people can take to bring about true transformation? Recently, I took a strong action that informed my desire by attending the Mindvalley Reunion event in San Diego. In attending Mindvalley for the first time, I was able to experience a weekend full of instruction and wisdom from the top gurus in the spiritual and motivational arena. I always tell my students and coaching clients that I am a teacher for a moment and a student for life. I believe that we create transformation in others by utilizing the arc of the wound in our scripts, presentations, talks, seminars, classes, articles and books. When we understand the humanity in the stories of others, it causes reflection on our own life and informs our worldview. As an artist and creator, this is everything when it comes to connecting with our audience. So I went to Mindvalley with an open mind, eager to feed my desire to understand what actions we can take to deliver true and deeper transformations in story and in life.


Script EXTRA: Creating Character Transformation Through Understanding the Void


In the first talk given by the creator of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, I learned about what spawned his desire to create this community. It all stemmed from meditation, a thread that I would say linked many of the talks. Vishen’s origin story for Mindvalley began with a desire to pursue meditation and he quit a secure job to do so. At first, he found that doing what he loved meant having very little in the bank. So, to continue his building of Mindvalley, he had to move back to Malaysia, where he was from. This was not a choice he made lightly, but was influenced and encouraged by the insight of others. In one instance, his path was influenced when he came back to New York to teach a meditation class, leaving his wife and one-year old child at home. While in New York, Vishen was asked to work with Bob Proctor, from The Secret, on a website. Bob asked what he was doing in New York. Vishen explained that he was there for a meditation class. Bob asked what he’d make from it, and when Vishen told him, Bob said he was not thinking big enough with his aspiration. Bob said, “Are your goals worthy of you?” This question led Vishen to heighten his vision for Mindvalley into a school for humanity where you could uplift consciousness and create community while changing the world through education. They now have millions of students around the world. I loved hearing this. The telling of his origin story is what connected me to his desire.

Jen Grisanti shares the storytelling and character development lessons learned from attending Mindvalley Reunion. Meditation and exploration of wound can help you create more compelling characters and story.

Photography by Kersti Niglas & Karen Harms

Jim Kwik spoke about learning abilities and the brain. A quote that he shared that stuck with me was, “Your life is not about you. It’s about the lives of everyone you touch.” He mentioned that we all have superpowers. By this, he meant we all have areas that we excel in. This deeply resonated with me because in my work with fiction writers, I utilize the idea of how a character’s superpowers stem from their wound. Jim shared his wound. It took him three to four years longer to learn to read than the kids around him. This prompted him to want to understand more about the learning process and why some people learn at different rates than others. He talked about giving people permission to be who they are. He encouraged having curiosity to know who you are. He mentioned that self-awareness is a superpower. When he said this, I felt a huge release from myself, as well as the audience. He went on to say, “Transcending is ending the trance. You are not broken.” Wow. This was so powerful. The goal that stemmed from Jim’s wound was that he wants to build better brains. The art of the memory is the art of attention, being present. Jim took his wound, he transformed it from a negative into a positive, and he has impacted the world with his message.


Script EXTRA: Using Therapy to Break Story


Lisa Nichols was another speaker whose story really resonated and connected with the audience. She spoke about Speaking, Voice and Message. She posed the question, “How do you use your voice to infect and affect?” This was so motivating to hear. She discussed how you should use your voice to serve on a high level. She also mentioned a very universal theme: the idea of belonging. This led into her story of her wound. Her wound stemmed from when she was young and competed in a competition to be cast as one of Charlie’s Angels or The Bionic Woman. She was a fierce competitor and won almost every competition. Then, when it came to announcing the winners, she was totally devastated when her name was not called. She couldn’t understand. She went up to the judges and asked them why. One of the judges told her that due to the color of her skin, they could not choose her, despite the fact that she excelled in the competitions. Lisa was one of the only black girls there. She was crushed by this experience in the moment. However, it was at this time that she realized that she wanted to use her voice. She knew that there had to be a gift under all of the negativity. It was the way that Lisa told her story that really connected her to the audience. I was blown away with how the reveal of the arc of her wound truly did bring about transformation and connection.

There were so many amazing speakers at this event. As I listened to each talk, I was continually reminded that what I teach my students, with regards to utilizing the arc of the wound to tell their story in the strongest way possible, also applied to the talks given to create transformation. It was all connected.

This theme was further supported as Debra King began to speak. Author of The New York Times bestseller book,Truth Heals, Debra’s story was one more that resonated with me on a deep level. From the title of her book, I knew that what she was going to speak about would align with what I teach about the significance of writers doing the emotional work needed so they can best utilize their emotional truth in the stories they tell. The origin story of one of the wounds that led Debra on her specific path was when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer early on in her law career. After the diagnosis, she quickly realized that she had to deal with her addiction to alcohol and Valium. In doing so, she had more clarity. She saw an ad about meditation, and she recognized that there had to be a link between masking her unwanted emotions and accessing and freeing them through meditation. Within three sessions with an alternative healer, she went into remission. This began her journey. She attended a couple medical schools that focused on energy and received her degree. Then, she studied with every Shaman she could connect with on the planet. In taking these actions that stemmed from her wound, she created her mission through understanding the link between emotions that you don’t process and disease and ailments in the body. This led to her work in using and understanding chakras as part of the healing process. Her message about truth-healing is everything that fuels what I do with my writers. So hearing the arc of her wound as it linked to her mission truly made me feel and understand her transformation, and in doing so, I was able to feel my own.

The key takeaway from my weekend was the recognition that through understanding our origin stories, and the revelation of the arc of the wounds in life and in fiction, we connect with our audience and we enable transformation within ourselves, our mission and our message.

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Creating Characters, Screenwriting How-To Articles, Story Structure by Jen Grisanti
Jen Grisanti

About Jen Grisanti

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success. Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and she quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows, including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends. In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Drawing on her experience as a studio executive where she gave daily notes to executive producers/showrunners, Grisanti personally guides writers to shape their material, hone their pitches and focus their careers. Since launching the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 900 writers specializing in television, features and novels. Due to her expertise and mentorship, seventy-five of her writers have staffed on television shows and forty-four have sold pilots, five that that went to series. Grisanti has taught classes for the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, TV Writers Summit (in LA, London and Israel), The TV Writers Studio (in Australia), Story Expo, The Big Island Film Festival, Chicago Screenwriters Network, Scriptwriters Network , Screenwriting Expo, the Great American Pitchfest, the Writers Store, the Northwestern Screenwriter’s Guild in Seattle, and the Alameda’s Writer’s Group. In addition, she has served on panels for the WGA, iTVFest, UFVA, PGA and The Writer’s Bootcamp, telling her story to inspire others. Grisanti attended USC where she received a B.A. in Communications

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