Embracing the Hero’s Journey: Writing As a Path to Transformation.

September 10, 2023

Embracing the Hero’s Journey: Writing As a Path to Transformation.

May 29, 2023

Luke Skywalker. Moana. Harry Potter. And now: Barbie.

These modern fictional characters all embark on the Hero’s Journey, the archetypal story framework first illuminated by Joseph Campbell in his seminal 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. You know the drill: Protagonists are called on a grand adventure during which they face challenges, form alliances, meet mentors, overcome internal conflicts, confront the abyss, and emerge transformed. Ultimately, they share the lessons they have learned with the rest of humankind – or dollkind, as the case may be.

So, what’s new? 

This. Recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that telling our personal stories as hero’s journeys enhances our sense of the meaning of life and improves our resilience.

As high-achievers facing midlife and moving beyond, we benefit from consciously and literally rewriting our stories. When we reframe our life experiences as heroic sagas, no longer are we victims of circumstance, predatory people, or bad luck. We cast aside old thought patterns. We heal childhood wounds. We come to see ourselves as brave individuals who have surmounted hardships and evolved to a place where we feel excited to share our wisdom with others. 

We forgive ourselves.

I experienced this for the first time at age 34, when I wrote a memoir as a tool for healing from divorce. Titled 10 Days of Silence, it tells of my transformational journey during my first ten-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. In each chapter, I face a demon and emerge with a spiritual lesson. 

After sitting on this manuscript for 15 years, I’m finally polishing it up and self-publishing. It took me another decade and a half to build up the confidence to share my story with the world. This despite the fact that I have been coauthoring and ghostwriting nonfiction books and memoirs for 25 years – including two that have made the New York Times bestseller list. I was riddled with insecurity. 

At 50, I finally feel that my message might actually interest and even inspire others. It took me another hero’s journey to get here, to a place where I can muster the gumption to have my voice heard. A place where I love myself. 

These days, I believe with all my heart that each and every one of us has a story to share. Because each and every one of us has been on our own hero’s journey. And I guarantee you that out of the 8 billion people on Planet Earth, a solid percentage of them will be intrigued by, curious about, and ready to learn from your journey. 

As I go through the process of rewriting and publishing my memoir, I invite you to join me. Write your books, too.

In fact, if you’re feeling insecure about writing a book, ponder this. As modern elders, we are the mentors that the heroes always encounter on their journeys. Instead of begrudging our aging bodies and memory loss, instead of doubting whether our stories are fascinating enough to share, we can envision ourselves as Yoda, Dumbledore, or Weird Barbie. 

Our lives are a series of stories. I like to call the most memorable and transformative of these our “Movie Moments.” Recording these moments crystallizes them. We might even codify them into a book that we can pass on to our community and future generations. When we see our stories as catalysts for growth and healing, we move forward with a renewed sense of purpose. Maybe one dressed in hot pink. 

MeiMei Fox is a 2x New York Times bestselling coauthor and FORBES contributor. You can join her 6-week online course, Your Bestselling Book, by applying today. This intimate 20-person cohort of high achievers will take you from conception to completion of your nonfiction book or memoir.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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