Does Your Art Imitate Your Life? If not, Why Bother?

Cristen Iris
In life, we never achieve anything meaningful without overcoming some fear or wound from our past and giving up some thought or behavior pattern that keeps us locked into one plane of existence.
And it takes test after test, try after try, opportunity and failure after opportunity and failure before we finally throw up our hands and submit to our higher self.
If you write fiction, the same must be true in your protagonist's world.
Most people's stories (in the real world and on paper) are boring because the central character never gets into situations that demand growth.
Their goals aren't high enough. What's at stake isn't clear. And the true struggle isn't there.
So don't be afraid to show the good, the bad, and the ugly of your protagonist because if you don't, your protagonist will never make the shift hero.


Whether you see yourself as such or not, you are the protagonist of your writer's journey. If you overcome, if you are heroic, you are the hero of the story of your life.

But to overcome is to act, to risk. For that to happen, there must be something at stake.


For the writer, book sales, professional respect, and self-respect are at stake. But, of course, there's more at stake than just those things.
Each person writes for different reasons and has different risks. Perhaps what's at stake for you is a relationship. Whatever it is, you must identify it, look it square in the eye, and believe that the only way to get what you want is to submit to being tested and to pass each test on your road to achieving your goal.
You must also believe that the goal--the thing that's at stake--is worth every effort you will be forced to make because if you do not believe this, you will not be compelled to act heroicly.
How is it that humans can do such extraordinary things when faced with a life or death situation? It's because at the moment of crisis and choice, they become aware of how precious their life or the life of someone else is to them, and they act accordingly.


  • What weakness or fear must you overcome to shift from amateur to pro?
  • What goal do you have that is worth this effort, this hero's journey.
  • Will you risk loneliness, embarrassment, money, time, and emotional energy on this endeavor just as your protagonist must do?
  • And if you will not risk, why should a literary agent? Why should a publisher? Why should a reader?
Writing is dangerous. Writing is painful. Writing is life. If it were not so, it would not be worth reading.
CI Communication Strategies
Cristen Iris

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