The Hero’s Journey as a creative writing journey
The Hero’s Journey is a powerful, dynamic, archetypal journey that can be applied to personal experience, or to the process of constructing a narrative that works as a screenplay, novel or short story. It works as both. The Hero’s Journey is about both a universal and a personal story.
Joseph Campbell was a world-renowned expert in comparative mythology and a professor at Sarah Lawrence College for 38 years. He is best know for developing the phrase ‘follow your bliss’ and he determined a narrative pattern in all myths and stories, called ‘The Hero’s Journey’ or the Monomyth. George Lucas, producer of Star Wars, used the Hero’s Journey to write and develop the narrative in Star Wars.
“Whether the hero be ridiculous or sublime, Greek or barbarian, gentile or Jew, his journey varies little in essential plan. Popular tales represent the heroic action as physical, the higher religions show the deed to be moral, nevertheless, there will be found astonishingly little variation in the morphology of the adventure, the character roles involved, the victories gained. If one or another of the basic elements of the archetypal pattern is omitted from a given fairy tale, legend, ritual or myth, it is bound to be somehow or other implied- and the omission itself can speak volumes of the history and pathology of the example.” Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The Hero starts out in the ordinary world. Think of Luke Skywalker, bored to death as a farm boy before he tackles the universe, at the beginning of Star Wars. Think of Frodo at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings., in the shire. There is a situation. Their ordinary world is upset. They’ve got the call from the Universe. It’s task time. In the film Witness you see both the Amish boy and the policeman in their ordinary worlds before they are thrust into alien worlds- the farm boy into the city, the city cop into the unfamiliar countryside.
Think of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Think of Prometheus ascending to the heavens, stole fire from the Gods, and descended. Jason sailed through the Clashing Rocks into a sea of marvels, circumvented the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece, and returned with the fleece. Aeneus went down into the underworld, crossed the dreadful river of the dead, threw a sop to the three headed watchdog Cerberus, and conversed, at last, with the shade of his dead father. All things were unfolded to him: the destiny of souls, the destiny of Rome, which he was about to be found. He returned to the ivory gate to his work in the world.
“Select two or three heroes and then ask these mythical beings to incarnate through you, and watch the change.” – Deepak Chopra in ‘Finding Joe’, a documentary about Joseph Campbell.
You are the hero of this journey. By tuning in to yourself as a hero, you will awaken your inner potential and activate powers that you never even knew that you had.
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