The First Stage of a Hero's Journey

Sid Smith here. It is my honor and privilege to be your host this week on your journey into the writer’s life. May it be a pleasant journey …

It was the first night after my first full day of graduate school. The school specialized in Jungian psychology and the president was a world-renowned expert on dreams.

He led us through a guided visualization and urged us to wait patiently for someone to appear. But, rather than a “someone,” a ghoulish, bodiless head floated into view. His face was badly scarred and his yellowed fangs posed a menacing grin. He/it never spoke, but his eyes blazed a hole through my psyche.

The university president calmly said, “This will be your guide for the next two years. Say hello and get to know him or her.”

Criminy sakes.

Sometimes, from the outside looking in, the path to becoming a highly-paid and successful writer can seem like a stroll on a tropical beach. But, for many of us, the journey can seem like an ordeal.

My goal this week is to be a kinder, gentler guide on what I’ll simply refer to as your “hero’s journey” to living the writer’s life.

And if I do my job right, by the end of the week, you will feel completely capable of getting out there and claiming the trillion dollars being spent by direct-response marketers every year.

To get you started, I’d like for you to read an article I wrote titled, 5 Tips for Greater Self-Confidence.

Confidence means everything in building a freelance business, and it’s something most writers struggle with when starting out.

In addition, I’d like to walk you through the first stage of the classic “hero’s journey” as described by Joseph Campbell in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

The first stage is called “Departure,” which, in your case, is the time you heed the “call to adventure” and decide to pursue the writer’s life.

While there is a certain amount of excitement, our hero is usually scared to his or her knickers because he’s leaving behind the known to pursue the unknown.

Sound familiar?

While I can’t remove the fear, here are three things you can do that will make your journey a more enjoyable and rewarding experience:

1. Accept that you don’t know what you don’t know.

I thought I knew how to write until I started reading the Masters and delving into AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

I soon realized that I didn’t know far more than I knew.

Many a hero got lost in the woods for weeks or years until he acknowledged that he didn’t know where he was or how to get out of the mess. Whether you’ve been around the writing world for years or are new to the challenge, there is ALWAYS something new to learn.

2. Set big goals.

Many heroic stories include a tale of the reluctant hero. He or she prefers the simple life back home. Once the journey begins, though, any hope of maintaining the status quo quickly disappears.

Once a clear goal is set — rescue the fair princess or destroy the Death Star — the hero can more easily bring about the changes and call in the resources necessary for success.

Decide where you’re going with your writing career. The bigger you make the goal, the more you’ll be motivated to do whatever it takes to reach the goal.

3. Adopt an “I will” attitude.

People who say they can, but don’t, are the same people who remain back in the village, toiling away at meaningless jobs. You’re better than that.

We already know that you can. As a hero, you “will.”

Do yourself a favor and make a big, hairy goal. Figure out what steps you must take to reach the goal. Then, do it.

I invite you to share your goal with me, as well as post any questions or comments, below.

Remember what Yoda told young Luke Skywalker: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

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Published: May 30, 2011

7 Responses to “The First Stage of a Hero's Journey”

  1. Big goal? OK, I have a $628,000 mortgage on a normal-sized house in So. Calif (thus, the crazy mortgage). Would like to pay it off entirely through writing income. Is that big enough?

    Dr Mike

  2. Hi Sid, This is indeed a pleasant start to my writing journey this week, thank you for the article.


  3. i would not just like to be a writer but i hope to achieve my long undying dream of becoming a space tourist. but i always ponder and wonder about how am i going to make that a reality . am i being unrealistic or am i confidant that i can achieve this somewhat insurmountable goal.

    Guest (zipho)

  4. Named must your fear be before banish it you can. ~ Yoda

    Thanks, Sid! Your article couldn't have come at a better time for me either--next week is my birthday and I made that my "JUMP" date--I have a contract that will carry until the end of June and my fear is financial disaster--Now I can defeat it, Yoda!

    Do or do not. There is no try. ~ Yoda

    Guest (Susan Jaeger)

  5. Great paradigm reminder . . . thanks! I'll let you know when I write the final mortgage check . . .

    Dr Mike

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