Shout-Out: Steven Pressfield’s Blog and The Hero’s Journey

Steven Pressfield author

Steven Pressfield, a real life Obi-Wan Kenobi

If you’ve read any of my former posts, chances are you noticed that I’m adamant about The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield is a prolific novelist, author, and screenwriter. Some of his bestselling novels include The Legend of Bagger Vance (later adapted into the Hollywood film starring Will Smith), Gates of Fire, and The Tides of War. And it looks like he just released a new thriller called The Profession which looks downright groovy. (Bruce Campbell got that word “groovy” stuck in my head after watching the Evil Dead trilogy last weekend. It’s all his fault.)

Steven Pressfield not only just released a new novel, but he also just started a series of blog posts on The Hero’s Journey, a concept taught by the highly-esteemed mythology expert Joseph Campbell. Campbell has had a huge impact on the storytelling of filmmakers like George Lucas and many others. In fact, Star Wars was intentionally patterned after it, as I discussed in my previous post The Monojourney We Call Life. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and Hero With a Thousand Faces were two of the first books I read on writing. In the Writer’s Journey, Vogler breaks down the Hero’s Journey in layman’s terms for novelists and screenwriters. (Campbell’s writing is fairly dense.)

Pressfield writing on Campbell is a momentous and intriguing proposition for me, because both Campbell and Pressfield are epochal names within my own “writer’s journey.” Why? Campbell got me hooked on reading about writing. Pressfield got me hooked on actually writing.

The world is full of writers who never write.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

That’s right. I read Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Writer’s Journey all the way back in 2006, and I’ve read dozens of books on writing as well as filmmaking since then. However, for several years afterwards, I never completed a feature-length screenplay or novel. Why?

In the War of Art, Pressfield explains exactly why. Resistance, that part of the human psyche that exists within us all and tries to stop us, at all costs, from following our dreams, had kicked my arse and was continuing to kick said arse on a daily basis. And I didn’t even have a clue what or who was kicking my arse. Come to find out, it was myself. In War of Art, Pressfield clearly identifies our enemy and how to overcome it and leaves us with no excuse.

My Own Writer’s Journey

Hero's Journey

Diagram of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Click on the image to enlarge.

So in my own “hero’s journey,” Campbell (along with his “John the Baptist” Vogler who prepared the way for me to understand his writings) were the heralds who introduced the Call to Adventure in my life. However, I was the reluctant hero and at first I Refused The Call, and sat on my ass for several years. It wasn’t until I had a Meeting With the Mentor, who was Steven Pressfield (my own personal Obi-Wan Kenobi), who gave me the gift of understanding my enemy via The War of Art, that I Crossed the Threshold. I am now in the strange and thrilling underworld of being a writer who actually writes, and am encountering new Tests, Allies, and Enemies every day. I look forward to soon going through my own Ordeal, Death and Rebirth and Resurrection to hopefully bring back an Elixir to share with all of you. Sounds fun, right?

Groovy.

(As mentioned in other posts, I plan to have the first draft of my novel done by my 35th birthday, June 19th. May the force be with me!)

Make sure to check out Pressfield’s article on The Hero’s Journey. It is the first of several to come, which I am personally looking forward to. Let us all rejoice in the gift of the internet so we can learn from such a wise sage who has already been to the underworld and kicked it’s arse.

How have you seen aspects of the Hero’s Journey in your own life and creative endeavors?

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13 comments

  1. todayiwatchedamovie · · Reply

    I think I’m somewhere between 3 and 4.

    1. Sweet. And Pressfield as gone all the way to 12 and back many times! I haven’t even made it one lap yet! But the important thing is that we are on the journey! Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. (I think that’s a buddhist proverb)

      1. todayiwatchedamovie · ·

        What number would you say you’re currently on?

        I consider you and Mr. Pressfield to be the “mentors” referred to in #4. I had to stop reading War of Art on my lunch break because I kept losing track of time!

      2. I would say I’m on number 6 or 7. I’ve wrote about 50 pages of my novel, then I decided to read Book In A Month and do the rest in 30 days. So that’s where I’m at right now, as far as my novel goes.

        I would say I’m an ally (from #6), not a mentor. I might become a mentor when I get old and gray, but I don’t feel I’m ready for that title yet.

      3. todayiwatchedamovie · ·

        that works, too.

      4. By the way, I’m about 100 pages into Book In A Month, and it is awesome. If you’re thinking about writing a book, I’d highly recommend it. It has a lot of helpful stuff on finding who you are as a writer and getting clear about your genre and things you care about. It’s just an all-around good book for writers even if you don’t plan on doing the 30 day challenge.

      5. todayiwatchedamovie · ·

        I’ll have to check it out! I’m having trouble deciding what to write during November…maybe that book can help me.

      6. It’s got a great section on exploring what you are passionate about and what you should write about.
        I know there’s another one called No Plot? No Problem! That is about writing a book in 30 days. Looks like that one might be interesting too. But when I read the reviews on Amazon about the two, seemed like people agreed that Book In A Month was the better of the two for keeping you on track to create a coherent story that follows the three-act structure.

  2. Nice write up, Daniel! I too have The War of Art listed as one of the most influential books on inspiring me to LIVE life. I love all your information about Joseph Campbell. I have watched some documentaries but have yet to read his works. Guess I better start kicking the pants off resistance and get started! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Right on Ryan. Thanks for the heads up on the blog post by Steven Pressfield! I’m signed up for alerts on his blog now. Campbell is great. I found a few more books my Campbell that I want to read now on following your bliss. Reflections on the Art of Living and Pathways to Bliss. And I plan on watching those docs on Netflix too.

  3. Good luck Daniel! I’m excited to hear about your progress.

    1. Thanks! I will start my 30 Book In a Month Journey soon and be posting updates!

  4. […] Shout-Out: Steven Pressfield’s Blog and The Hero’s Journey […]

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