Art As Service, Art As Craft

Steven Barnes
4 min readSep 5, 2023


“And so I have to live. Because we live for more than just ourselves, Most of the time we live for others, keep putting one foot before the other, left and right, left and right, so that walking becomes a habit, just like breathing. Ina n out, left and right.”

Thrity Umrigar, The Space Between Us

Brendon Burchard asks himself three questions every night: “Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?” Powerful. I wake up with a similar set of questions:

What is there to do today?

How will it further my goals?

How will my actions serve my family?

How will my actions serve the world?

How will they connect to my largest, clearest intentions?

And so long as those actions harm none, I can commit to going full out at all times. So that morning meditation might be: “Let me do as much good in the world as possible, and harm to none.”

None. Including myself. If I score myself from 1–5 in each major arena, some days I get a “5” and others I get a “2”. Its just data. No guilt, no shame. Just: “huh. That wasn’t what I wanted. What can I do to improve that?”

Every day I track these things in my journal. Jason said that, if anything happened to me, the first thing he’d do is go through my journals. So tracking my thought, actions, and process carefully will allow him to stand on my shoulders, and hopefully see further than his Dad was able to.

This journey can be very, very lonely. But it is also a blessing and inspiration, for which I flood myself in gratitude every day.

The greatest clarity I’ve gained can’t QUITE be put into words, but the different models we discuss do reflect those aspects. MAGIC is one of them (get a zero in Model, Action, Gratitude, Intention, or Courage and the whole thing zeroes out). It’s a very very good one. The idea is that you look at any intention, any problem, from multiple perspectives and see what they reveal. Its just like writing a story: I take what I know, then look at it a dozen different ways: as a story, as a screenplay, index cards, post-it notes, white board, synopsis, philosophically, career-wise, from the perspective of each character, thematics, and on and on.

Whenever I run into a problem, I shift perspective and see how the whole thing looks from THIS or THAT direction. Doing that with the KUNDALINI EQUATION treatment. I see a possibility if a certain character is a police officer. But how does that affect everything else in the story? Does it really make sense psychologically? Plot wise?

The theory, or philosophy, is that you are unearthing a “perfect story” that exists deep in your unconscious. You do the work necessary to haul it up and polish it. All the writer’s tools are there in case that hauling and polishing isn’t smooth effort.

The same in life. I’m acting as if there is a perfect life, an ideal existence. I have to pull that vision up from the deepest levels of my being, and navigate consensus reality in bringing it into existence. Every tool is a version of the plotting/pantsing tools used in writing,

This ties everything back to the very first model I ever created: lifewriting. Treating life as a story you are writing, where you are the hero. But also taking what you learn of reality and relating it to your writing. It is the UNION of these things that make it work.

That’s why I always start with the “Hero’s Journey” and the “Chakras”: together they offer a complete model of story and human psychology, but are useful in both life and fiction. Once you glimpse the Dynamic Sphere of their intersection, you’ll see things very differently

So that is where our September 23 screenwriting workshop will begin: with the Lifewriting structure, and then Tananarive’s view of writing as a theory. Then we’ll focus in on Screenwriting, the very specific ways Screenwriting takes the basic structures of writing and uses them to create visual media. Once you understand THAT we focus on applying the tools of writing to a very specific story: how a novice writer found their way into the Hollywood screenwriting game and succeeded.

This is YOUR story, if you are anywhere along that path. And once you understand the general principles of writing, and screenwriting, you’ll need the tools of managing emotion, modeling excellence, finding allies, “doing the work”, making important contacts, taking meetings, and selling yourself as a talent. How to steadily increase skill, and how to make the journey joyful, turning stress into the fodder for drama.

This is the only workshop we’re teaching in 2023, Sept 23 from 2–5 Pacific, via Zoom. There WILL be recordings for your use afterward. We really, REALLY want you to understand the new opportunities opening up as soon as the Strike ends, which I predict that Christmas present will be unwrapped by Thanksgiving. Join us. There has never been a better time.

We’d love to have you.

Write with Passion!




Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.