Month: May 2012

The Hero’s Journey as Boot Camp

By Steven Pressfield | 19 Comments

With apologies to readers who are getting tired of these “hero’s journey” posts (this is the fourth in as many weeks), I can say only, “Hang in there, baby!” The last one is coming next week. Today’s is about using the hero’s journey intentionally, as a way to achieve a species of self-transformation. Navy SEAL training is a hero’s journey. So is Marine Corps boot camp or spring football camp at ‘Bama or a season dancing with the Joffrey Ballet. A Jenny Craig diet is a hero’s journey. For that matter, so is being a contestant on Dancing With The…

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Big Night

By Shawn Coyne | 9 Comments

Once a year, I uncinch the family money belt, take a deep breath, and plan a trip to Yankee Stadium. Our big night out is our annual splurge. My son marks off the days.  Our weekend hours of playing catch, me hitting him grounders and pitching him batting practice revolve around the state of Derek Jeter’s batting average or whether or not C.C. Sabathia might pitch the night we’re scheduled for the Bronx. This year, I promised to teach him how to keep score.

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The Hero’s Journey as Screenplay

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

Last week we were talking about the “hero’s journey” in myth. This week let’s talk about movies. The neophyte writer, when he arrives in Tinseltown, very soon gets wised up to the lingo—“inciting incident,” “Act Two curtain,” “All Is Lost moment” and so forth. It’s not so much that there’s a “formula.” But there’s definitely a “vocabulary.” The reason there’s a vocabulary is that certain structural concepts work in stories, and others don’t. How do moviemakers know this (forgetting for a moment William Goldman’s famous axiom, “Nobody knows anything”)? They know by the box office. The Monday morning ticket figures.…

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Adios Zero Sum

By Shawn Coyne | 13 Comments

My five-year-old daughter felt bad. One day at school, a frienemy teased her about having had a play date with another girl in their class. My daughter had not been included. Nah…Nah…Nah Nah Nah. I discovered this while helping her put on her tights. It was the day she’d planned her revenge. I’m pleased that my children were born in an age of abundance. I grew up in the era of scarcity.  In my day, there were only so many jobs at the steel mill, there were only so many football scholarships available…there were only a few opportunities to “make…

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The Hero’s Journey in Myth

By Steven Pressfield | 21 Comments

“The hero’s journey” sounds a bit melodramatic, I admit. But hey, it’s real. If the phrase rings mythic, it’s because its origins (at least in expression) lie in myth. What are myths? They’re the ancient, collective legends of the human race. The Odyssey, the epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf; the sagas of the Buddha or Prometheus or Quetzalcoatl. The hero’s journey, as Joseph Campbell famously observed, appears again and again in these myths. The specifics vary, but the overall contours remain remarkably consistent. 1. The hero starts as “stuck” and unconscious. Like Luke Skywalker toiling on Uncle Owen and Aunt Varoo’s…

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Clear and Straight-Forward, Trying to Sit Chilly and Do Right

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

The hard part of sharing is ensuring that what you’ve said is what is heard. Experience is a factor. At baseball games, my four-year-old sings “Take me out to the ball game . . . buy me some peanuts and Apple Jacks . . . ” She’s had the cereal more often than the snack, so her understanding of the lyrics is infused with personal experience.

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The Hero’s Journey, Part One

By Steven Pressfield | 27 Comments

I netflixed The Power of Myth last week and watched it over a couple of nights. Have you ever seen it? It’s the PBS series that Bill Moyers did in 1988, interviewing Joseph Campbell. The program was great then and it’s great now. What I realized, re-watching Joseph Campbell (tragically he died a couple of years after the series aired) was what a powerful influence his books and thought have had on me. The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Follow Your Bliss, The Power of Myth. I decided I would dedicate the next few Writing Wednesdays to exploring those subjects.…

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When the Ladder Becomes a Wheel

By Shawn Coyne | 9 Comments

I’ve been reading a fascinating book called American Icon by Bryce Hoffman. It’s about how Ford Motor Company came back from the brink of bankruptcy. Its CEO, Alan Mulally, took the job when Ford and the other two members of the Big Three car manufacturers were in deep trouble. Way before the 2008 crash.  While GM and Chrysler ended up begging and getting billions of bailout dollars from American taxpayers, Ford prepared for the worst, restructured and didn’t have to ask for a penny. How Mulally got Ford out of its tailspin reminded me of pages 147 through 159 in…

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Henry Miller’s Eleven Commandments

By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

With gratitude to Maria Popova, from whose February 22 article on Brain Pickings I pilfered the following (and to George Spencer, who turned me on to the wonderful Brain Pickings), here is some priceless wisdom from one of my literary heroes, Henry Miller. (What I love about these notes is that they’re aimed by Miller only for himself—without a glimmer of self-consciousness, nor even for a moment intended for public dissemination. Here is a writer lashing himself to the mast, though not too tightly, as he bears down on what would become his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer.) COMMANDMENTS…

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