Every Writer Is On A Journey
When was the last time you went on a journey — the type of journey that took your mind for a trip?
As writers, we often ruminate on our past failings or the delays we encounter on the road. We want things to move faster when sometimes, really, we are exactly where we need to be.
Sometimes the detours on the writing journey is all part of the plan and will only add to the adventure.
After all, an adventure — a story — without its hiccups and potholes — would make for a pretty bland plotline.
I write this to you so that you will be consoled by the periodic stops and detours you face while on your writing journey. Sometimes, extraordinary things happen when you slow down:
You meet extraordinary people who restore your faith in life and in your writing.
1. The Hero
What’s nice about every writer’s journey is that you are your own hero. You will meet other heroes along the way, but ultimately, you are the hero of your own story.
Just like any hero, you will have moments of reluctance and doubt. You will teeter between action and inaction. You will confront inner demons you never realized you had while facing several battles along the way.
But this is the most encouraging part of a hero:
A hero always wins in the end.
With courage and the belief you can overcome your mountains, you will be able to do this. Moreover, you will meet other heroes to encourage you along the way.
“Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.” — Neil Gaiman
2. The Mentor
On the journey, you will meet more than one mentor. We will be surrounded by several mentors who will offer great wisdom when we least expect it.
The meeting with my first mentor began at a coffee shop. He was a writer and a tarot reader. While his ideology on life and faith was different from my own, I learned a lot about his journey as a writer. His words were encouraging as I continued my trek forward on my own writing journey.
Along the way, doors were opened where I met other mentors — mentors who taught me to see the world from another lens than the ones that I already collected. Some were writers, others were strangers with extraordinary stories even if they did not pen themselves as writers or storytellers.
This is the beauty of mentorship: you can change your outlook and view of the world by simply changing the lens. Each mentor that you meet will teach you to look through an entirely different lens.
By the end of your journey (and the start of the next one) you will have accumulated several lenses to see from.
“Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. . . . ” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. Threshold Guardian
The meeting at the threshold is the marker of the next point in your journey. Be prepared! Crossing the threshold will require you to fight for what you want. However, the guardian is not the main antagonist that you will face.
When it comes to your dreams and goals as a writer, nothing comes easy. The threshold guardian can come in the form of bad habits, self-doubt, or even the people close to you who tell you to turn back or stay where you are.
Most threshold guardians do not mean you harm. Sometimes these people (or inner thoughts) are just scared of what may lies ahead for you as * le gasp * a writer!
In these times, it is crucial you listen to the inner voice within. Are you being influenced by your doubts or other people’s will?
Or are you truly listening to the voice of destiny that is beckoning for you to explore uncharted writer’s land? It’s a risk that many do not take, but it is up to you to discern.
Whatever battle you face, remember that all heroes on the writer’s journey will face threshold guardians.
“A writer must take risks, defy the odds, be a bit obsessed and a little mad.” — Robert Cormier
Even though the Herald isn’t always a person, you will spot one easily after the fact. They are the ones that make you stop to realize where you are at in the journey. More than that, they inspire you to act. They are often the people you meet, the silent nod, that tells you that you’re heading down the right direction.
This is you responding and accepting the call of adventure.
For me, I have also met face-to-face with many heralds. They are the strangers I meet on the road of whom I may never meet again. However, the mark that they make in my life will last forever.
They are like the stars which have guided you thus far on your journey. They encourage you to keep on going. They support your dreams without judgment.
In times of trouble, remind yourself of all the heralds you have met, as well as the several you will come to meet! They will remind you of why you are on this writing journey!
“How strange it is to fall in love with a complete stranger, but how even more strange is the moment you feel as if you’ve known them your entire life” — Mason Fowler
The shapeshifter is the person that makes you question your beliefs and your view on others.
Whatever misconceptions you’ve had about others will change when meeting a shapeshifter. These can be people who you have disagreed with in the past. Perhaps they have a political or religious affiliation contrary to your own.
Perhaps they live a lifestyle completely different than yours.
Upon meeting a shapeshifter, your view changes or strengthens, because whatever sub-conscious box you may have put them in is dismantled.
You begin to see people as more complex — in colors and variations of hues — instead of a black-and-white picture.
Meeting multiple shapeshifters throughout your journey is important not only as a writer to add to the depth of character development but also as a person.
You become a more perceptive, tolerant, and loving individual the more that you meet and interact authentically with shapeshifters in your life.
“I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth…because we claim descent from the same God, and that being so, all life in whatever form it appears must be essentially one.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Brace yourself! The shadow is your enemy! If the self-doubt and bad habits persist or reappear from the threshold, you are at battle with the shadow.
The shadow can also be the arrival of conflict between loved ones, tragedies, and atrocities that may unexpectedly occur in your life. These events in your life may throw you off on your pursuits toward your dreams. They can also be the countless critics and rejections from publishers you will face.
If you do not battle the shadow, you will either turn back or find yourself at another threshold.
Just like thresholds, though, you are meant to overcome the enemy as well as win the battle.
You are the hero of your own story as a writer, after all.
What would the character in your story do? If your character can defeat the enemy, so can you as a writer!
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” — Abraham Lincoln
While tricksters can be comedic relief in a story, tricksters can also lead you down a long detour on your writing journey. They might be people who just want to have a good time and attempt to pull you in for the ride.
Tread with caution. The more your mingle with the “trickster” archetype, the more you will tread down a different path. While it is never too late to find your way back, giving in to tricksters can often lead to unproductive days of writing or losing track of your original dream.
Tricksters are sometimes unaware that they are distracting you from your pursuits (and if they are fully aware — RUN).
Sometimes you will just have to let the trickster clearly know of your life’s intentions to establish boundaries as a writer. If they truly are a trickster with good intentions, they will respect your wishes.
But then again, if they are a trickster, who really knows…?
Just kidding! (Maybe.)
“Follow the yellow brick road. Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road!” — The Wizard of Oz
Last but not least, are your allies. Choose them wisely.
Sometimes allies are also the heralds on your journey.
They will embark on the journey with you and support you through-and-through. They might be other fellow writers. They also might be readers who have fallen in love with your story and would like to be part of the journey.
Treat your allies with care! They will be there for you every step of the way in times of battling shadows and crossing thresholds. They also might alert you of tricksters who might cloud the way toward your true pursuit!
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” — (John 15:13)
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