The Artist’s Journey, Cont’d

Friends and members, welcome to our re-designed site! Explore a little and you’ll discover a free five-part War of Art mini-series. This is brand-new, read by me. Each section is about five minutes long. The audio is a sort of intro to the principles of Resistance and the idea of Turning Pro. Click here to sign up and we’ll shoot it straight to your Inbox.

Don’t be scared of the new site. It’s made for ease of access to all the resources we’ve been putting in place over the past few years. And now … back to our ongoing serialization of “The Artist’s Journey” (I’ve decided that’s the title).

Thanks, you guys …




The hero’s journey is a myth that, according to Joseph Campbell, C.G. Jung and others, is common to all human cultures. It’s a template that exists in our psyches from birth, like an operating system or, perhaps more exactly, a piece of software within the operating system.

Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac on their mid-20th Century “hero’s journey”

There are two aspects of the hero’s journey that are, in my view, often overlooked or not taken into account.

  1. The template is a fill-in-the-blanks proposition. It lays out a pattern and a sequence but it leaves the details specific to the individual TK (to come.)
  2. The hero’s journey template exerts a powerful, almost irresistible pressure on the individual to live it out in real life.

As a young childless woman experiences the ticking of her biological clock, so you and I feel the pull of our as-yet-unlived hero’s journey.

What makes us leave our small town and head to the big city? Why do we enlist in the Special Forces? What is happening to us when we meet a stranger on a plane and follow her (or him) to Argentina?

The software in our heads demands to be lived out.

The blanks insist on being filled in.

The hero (­­­­­­__________) receives the Call when (__________) walks into his/her life and does/says (__________).

The hero returns to (­­­­___________) by means of a (__________), bringing for the people the gift of (___________), hard-won from his/her experiences.

If you’re an artist, I can fill in the final blank for you right now.

The gift you bring is the works you will produce.



My own hero’s journey lasted about two and a half years, from age twenty-six to twenty-nine. It hit every beat in the myth, by the numbers and in sequence.

I had no idea, of course, that what I was experiencing might be called a hero’s journey. I had never heard of the hero’s journey.

What was clear to me was that something was happening, and that something was a train I couldn’t stop or slow down or get off.

What was clear too was when it ended. I knew the exact moment. I could feel it.

Even then, in that hour, I understood that the experience was of supreme value and importance. I didn’t need hindsight. I knew in the moment.

My family may have been repelled, even appalled by where I had been and what I had done; my friends may have feared for my sanity; others who cared for me may have shaken their heads at the waste and folly and futility. Even I understood it would take me years to recover. I didn’t care. The trip was worth it.


Because I now had a history that was mine alone. I had an ordeal that I had survived and a passage that I had paid for with my own blood. Nobody knew about this passage but me. Nobody would ever know, nor did I feel the slightest urge to communicate it. This was mine, and nobody could ever take it away from me.

I had punched my ticket.

I had filled in the blanks.



The artist lives out his or her real-life hero’s journey differently from the hero-as-man-or-woman-of-action.

I reached out for something to attach myself to [wrote Henry Miller in Tropic of Capricorn]—and I found nothing. But in reaching out, in the effort to grasp, to attach myself, left high and dry as I was, I nevertheless found something I had not looked for—myself. I found that what I had desired all my life was not to live—if what others are doing is called living—but to express myself. I realized that I had never had the least interest in living, but only in this which I am doing now, something which is parallel to life, of it at the same time, and beyond it. What is true interests me scarcely at all, nor even what is real; only that interests me which I imagine to be, that which I had stifled every day in order to live.

The hero’s journey for the artist is preparation only for her real journey, her passage and career in the imagination.



Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Mary on February 28, 2018 at 4:30 am

    Wow – another great post, a War of Art mini-series and a whole new website! I’m trying to take this all in before my first cup of coffee. Steve, you and your team never cease to amaze – a thousand thanks, and congratulations!

  2. Jared Dees on February 28, 2018 at 5:34 am

    Love the new website design! Well done

  3. Rock Kendzior on February 28, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Love everything about the new site. I’m disappointed in myself for not finding your video with Oprah sooner, but thankful you’ve highlighted it on the home page. You and the Black Irish book crew have an impact. Keep up the great work, and thanks again!

  4. Brian S Nelson on February 28, 2018 at 6:30 am

    I love the new website. I do enjoy George Guidall’s narration of the War of Art, I immediately signed up for the mini-series spoken by you.

    This site is much more direct in its intention. Well done.

  5. Jeffrey Taylor on February 28, 2018 at 8:15 am

    I’m unclear whether I’m on the hero’s journey or the artist’s journey. I am clear I’m on a Journey, have felt the Call, and am answering it to the best of my ability. The Call never comes with a map or instructions, just an internal compass or direction. Thank you for elucidating the two and their differences.

  6. Madeleine D'Este on February 28, 2018 at 11:57 am

    The new site looks fab! Nice work.
    And the Artist’s Journey is resonating big time with me and my own journey into writing. Keep the wisdom coming.

  7. G.R. on February 28, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    My favorite part on the old site was Archive. You can not wait for Wednesday or Friday, but read it every day! I will wait for the archive to appear on the new site. )))

  8. william zeitler on March 1, 2018 at 5:59 am

    “The Artist’s Journey, Cont’d” I’m having trouble finding “Part 1”. Thanks!

  9. Renita on March 1, 2018 at 9:06 am

    All your friends (here commenting) are so nice! Me? I hate change. I was alarmed that I didn’t get my Writing Wednesdays email. I thought maybe you had died.
    I miss the old messy website that to me was like a well worn leather chair with dog hair on it. Ok … so I’m a horrible person. Bring on the minions.
    Anyway. It looks great.

  10. Joe on March 1, 2018 at 10:32 am

    That Henry Miller up there has some meat on it. (And the site looks tidy and fresh. Nice work.)

  11. Sonja on March 1, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    I LOOOOVE the new site! Woo hoo! Congrats, Steven. I have tried a lot of “tricks and hacks” and what I’ve realized it’s really just my damn Resistance. Thanks for all you do! I have given away more copies of WofA than any other book!

  12. Julie Murphy on March 1, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Thank you, Steven.

  13. PG on March 2, 2018 at 6:39 am

    I was also worried something horrible happened when I didn’t get my “Writing Wednesdays” email!

    Do we have to resubscribe via the new site to continue getting these weekly installments by email?

  14. Kristy on March 2, 2018 at 8:11 am

    I love the new site! And I have been waiting for you to do a course! Excited. I am still intrigued to see how The Artist’s journey plays out. Clearly you have hooked me! I’m hoping there is some version of a “how-to” that helps me stay sane once I know that I am in it. Thank you!

  15. John Heisman on March 2, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Thanks you Steven. I like the new website. Direct and straight to the point. It is more in keeping with you and your writing. I know my Call and am pounding away. Thanks again.

  16. Amanda on March 3, 2018 at 5:48 am

    I came to this realization – that my life is mine to live through my imagination ANY way I like, just this week… I guess I’m a late bloomer because I’m a bit passed 50, still, it’s been an inspiration… As a writer, communicator, I can live my life as dynamically, adventurously and on the edge as I please (my hero’s journey was a big part of my 20’s and I am still living it out), while populating it with the thoughts, characters from my books (if I choose), or any other characters throughout history that I want to, however and whenever I want, sprinkled like spice on top of “reality.” When this dawned on me, I was reminded of Napoleon Hill’s Mastermind group of imaginary historical figures whom he would consult and who very quickly took on a life of their own…

  17. Steve Garcia on May 30, 2018 at 11:19 am

    “If you’re an artist, I can fill in the final blank for you right now. The gift you bring is the works you will produce.”
    Thank you for the call to action.

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