Using “the Hero’s Journey” to tame your story

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

As I embark on the process of trying to get the trust of my story and draw it to me, I keep myself busy by reading around the subject of writing.  There are so many books there which extol the virtues of planning and setting rigorous writing targets.  I know that in time, when I actually put pen to paper, this guidance will be of use.

However at present I am sitting still and waiting for my story to present itself.  I have had a tendency to rush into new projects with all the joy and enthusiasm of a five year old at the art table.

I get easily burned and so I am learning to be still and rest.  Not just into my story but also into the whole idea of myself as Writer.

I have hidden from it for so long.  So afraid to truly embrace that this crazy stuuuuupid idea is not going away.

I think that is why the Hero’s journey a la Joseph Campbell by way of  Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
strikes such a chord with me.

Because the fact is that writing a novel is a journey too.  We must be heroic to face this challenge.  We must as writers step out of the ordinary world and accept the challenge.

Yes I can use the hero’s journey as a nifty little plotting tool, but perhaps I can also use it as a guide on my own journey through the writing process.  I know that I will have to tackle my demons if I am to write this story.  I know that there will be threshold guardians (possibly the bank manager….)  I will meet allies and make enemies (not you dearest reader, I hope!).

So for those of us who are embarking on this journey, here is the route that lies ahead:

1.  Ordinary World – you know, just trundling along finding distractions to make you feel normal and pay the bills.

2. Call to adventure – it’s the middle of the night and The Story arrives and won’t let you go.  Or  (as it was for me) you are washing the dishes and a whole world opens itself to you whispering “write me, write me…”

3.  Refusal of the Call – “me?  A novelist?  Don’t be stupid – I have responsibilities, jobs to do, things to finish off.  It’s not the right time.  I would if only I had….   I’m not good enough…. What’s the point…”

4.  Meeting with a mentor – website, youtube, library, amazon – mentors are everywhere these days, don’t you know!  Just take your pick.  WARNING: just the act of choosing a mentor can be a subtle form of procrastinating, perhaps??

5.  Crossing the first threshold – could be buying a new notebook and scribbling down your notes, could be opening up a new file on the computer and trying for those first few words.  The blank page is our first threshold as writers and the thing that makes it such a challenge is that the page represents all our fears, insecurities and limiting thoughts.

6.  Tests, allies, enemies – oh this will be a journey of stamina.  Perhaps we will meet allies through social media.  Perhaps the enemy is time, space, “real life”, stamina, discipline – you name it, they are all going to come out of the bag when you attempt a literary marathon.

7.  Approach to the Inner most cave – I imagine that this will probably hit at around 35 000 words when I suddenly feel uncertain as to whether I can even make 40000 words let alone 90000.  Here is where I will face my fears…

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

8.  The Ordeal  – do I continue or do I abandon?  Do I allow my fears as a writer to tell me to stop being so stupid and get a real job, or do I push through and use all my strength to finish the task?

9.  Reward – the first draft is done…. time for a coffee and a nice slice of cake.  Perhaps even a trip to the Office Supplies store???

10.  The road back –   editing, redrafting, printing off the first draft and feeling inordinately pleased with myself

11. Resurrection/ Climax – “this first draft is absolutely rubbish.  It needs completely redoing.  Why did I ever think that I could be anything?  Why did I waste my time?”

12.  Return with the elixir – publication?  the call from the agent?  hollywood battle for the rights?  multimillion dollar advance???   Or perhaps just the wondrous satisfaction of knowing that I finally finished my novel.  I battled with my demons.  I did it.  Little old me…

Who knows how my journey will turn out as a novelist.  But here is where I begin.  I am still in the ordinary world at present but I have had my call to action, mentors are presenting themselves to me.

The Threshold Awaits…..

What teachers have helped you at the start of your writing journey?  I would love some recommendations for great writing resources and inspiration.  Post a comment below.

Happy writing,

xxx

ps the book I was referring to can be found here. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition

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4 thoughts on “Using “the Hero’s Journey” to tame your story

  1. Beautifully stated. Since you linked one of my posts on the The Hero’s Journey here, then you must know my profound attraction to it and how I also equated The Hero’s Journey to my Writer’s Journey. I applaud you on your bravery and wish you the best of luck in your writing future!

  2. The fact is, you have set out. Facing your fears is part of the journey, at least it was a big part for me. The important thing to understand is that everyone’s journey and writing process is different. There is no right or wrong way to write, there is only your way, and more than likely your process will constantly change as you learn more, expand your network of writing friends, writing associations, etc.

  3. Pingback: The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler | C.G. Fewston

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