SJ Murray, PH.D. — Storytelling, Screenwriting Kung-fu and the Difference Between Community Building and Networking
Play • 1 hr 10 min

SJ Murray — Storytelling, Screenwriting Kung-fu and the Difference Between Community Building and Networking 

Welcome to the Conscious Creators Show; where through intimate and insightful interviews with authors, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs and other podcasters, you'll learn tools and tactics to 10x your creativity and strategies to grow and monetize your audience.

On today’s episode, we have SJ Murray, an Emmy-nominated screenwriter, teacher, and storyteller. We discuss what it means for her to be a storytelling, how to unlock your innate creativity, different storytelling models, the importance of community-building, and what it means to take the ego out of creating. 

 

Actions: 

  1. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app and let us know what you think by leaving a rating and a review.
  2. Thank our guest and let them know what you thought of today’s episode — click here to send a Tweet directly to SJ and Sachit or find SJ on Instagram
  3. Head on over to Creators.Show to get new episodes, exclusive guides like our guide on “How to Connect With Busy Influencers”, partner deals and additional bonuses.

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • What does it mean to be a storyteller?
  • For SJ, she wants to tell stories that are both challenging and leave the world better than it was. She believes in ethical storytelling.
  • In terms of brain chemistry, there doesn’t appear to be any difference in how our brains react to a story whether we are the storyteller or the viewer.
  • SJ has loved studying what makes stories work and then bringing it full circle to apply it to her own writing.
  • What is “screenwriting kung-fu”?
  • Learning structural rules can set your creativity free rather than constrain it.
  • Some examples of storytelling structure are found in Aristotle’s three-act structure and Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
  • Distinguish between helpful notes and helpful council from people with a strong track record and unfounded criticisms.
  • We have been sold the myth that the messiness of humanity is the source of all our problems, but what if we operated from the assumption that we’re all imperfect and that’s normal?
  • SJ believes everyone should reflect on what brings them joy and fulfillment.
  • Loneliness can have negative effects on your health as severe as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
  • SJ distinguishes between networking and community by emphasizing that networking is inherently transactional.
  • Community is making a commitment to get to know people over time.
  • If we rush to create, what we create won’t endure.
  • Embrace creativity because it’s what you do, not for the external validation.
  • Screenwriting has constraints in a way novels do not.
  • How has SJ’s experience in sports and dance informed her creative process?
  • Training means you go through the motions until inspiration strikes.
  • All stories are predictable if you understand story structure, but they shouldn’t feel predictable. A great story will make you feel smart for predicting what happens or surprises you by deviating from it.
  • Animation is special because it isn’t bound by the constraints of being human.
  • Even worlds that aren’t our own require rules of engagement so the audience understands how it works.
  • A core principle of SJ’s community-building is that she’s not at the center of it; the people who come are the value, not her.
  • A leader does a lot of the invisible work for the sake of the work, not the recognition, like the conductor of an orchestra whose back is to the audience.
  • The distinction between creativity and business is harmful and useless; creatives should hone their business acumen and business professionals should hone their creativity.
  • SJ had an experience with a teacher when she was very young who mocked her art in front of her class, and it meant she didn’t write creatively again for 20 years.
  • Encouragement at a young age and the countering of adverse experiences at a young age are crucial for developing creatively.
  • If you hear that whisper urging you to create, it’s never too late to listen to it.
  • SJ didn’t reconnect with creative writing until she was forced into a class in college.
  • You don’t have to constantly prove yourself.

 

3 Key Takeaways:

  1. Creativity is innate in all of us and it’s never too late to access it.
  2. Learning the rules and structures of storytelling can be creatively freeing instead of limiting.
  3. Childhood experiences are formative in how you perceive what you’re capable of doing. Encouragement is crucial for young people.

 

Tweetable Quotes:

"We have this relationship with creativity where we want it to just be innate. And creativity in its rawest form is innate. I mentioned that earlier, I think we all have it, we’re all predisposed to create.” –SJ Murray

 

“By studying some rules of structure, they can become amazing storytellers and set their creativity completely free.” –SJ Murray

 

“Happiness is not about a warm fuzzy feeling like we think about it today. Joy is a feeling, sadness is a feeling, but happiness is being attuned with your purpose.” –SJ Murray

 

“I like to operate from the assumption that everybody’s human and therefore everybody’s imperfect, and their lives are not supposed to be not messy.” –SJ Murray

 

“The greatest prizes we win in life are the ones we don’t try to win.” –SJ Murray

 

“Life got so much better for me the day I quit trying to prove myself.” –SJ Murray

 

Resources Mentioned:

 

Actions: 

  1. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app and let us know what you think by leaving a rating and a review.
  2. Thank our guest and let them know what you thought of today’s episode — click here to send a Tweet directly to SJ and Sachit or find SJ on Instagram
  3. Head on over to Creators.Show to get new episodes, exclusive guides like our guide on “How to Connect With Busy Influencers”, partner deals and additional bonuses.
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