Rewrite the Drama

I recently started taking an online writing Masterclass, taught by David Mamet.  In one of the earliest lessons, David explains that drama is fundamental to our psyche.  He points out that we even dramatize the weather.  Think about it.  It’s true!  Every snowfall must become...Snowmageddon {Insert Year}.

This led me to two questions.  1) What is drama?  2) How am I creating drama in my life?  

Here's my answer to question one…Drama is interpreting the cause-and-effect of a situation in a way that evokes emotion.  The emotion and the motive behind that emotion are different for each of us. It could be that you tend to create a dramatic narrative where you are the victim.  It could be that you create a narrative with conflict, either because you like conflict or you want to avoid it at all costs.  It could be that you are creating a juicy story that doesn’t really involve you simply because you are bored and it’s cheaper than going to a movie.  

Here’s the problem. The drama isn’t real.  The drama is just a cause-and-effect story that you’ve written.  Unfortunately, the emotions that come along with the drama are real and those emotions are often unhealthy. 

The Challenge – Rewrite the Story, Without the Drama

Look at your life and notice some ways that you are creating drama.  To find the drama, follow the stress.  If there is an area of your life that is causing you stress you’ve probably created a complex dramatic narrative about that situation.  The goal of this challenge is to re-examine and then rewrite the narrative, without the drama.  It won’t be a best-seller but it will be way less stressful. 

Here's how it works:

  1. Identify a situation in your life that is causing you anxiety or stress.
  2. Identify one motive or motivation that you are attributing to an outside player or force.  For boss is doing this because she dislikes me.
  3. Ask yourself...what is another explanation that might cause the same result but doesn't involve me?
  4. Ask would I proceed differently if I knew the alternative explanation was true?
  5. Ask yourself...How does it feel when I imagine this less dramatic reality?  
  6. Trust your intuition to guide your decision about how to actually proceed.  

NOTE:  Sometimes Step #3 can be difficult because we get so caught up in our drama that we cannot come up with an alternative explanation.  It can help to get the opinion of an unbiased opinion.  Feel free to shoot me a quick note and I'll be happy to serve as your sounding board.  Just email me at

Prosperous Journey,

-mike herzog


Photo Credit:  Marcin Czaja