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
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?
(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?