HJ #4: The Hero Accepts the Challenge

(From 2004)

Well, obviously, unless the hero accepts the challenge, there is no story, in the simple sense. Of course, there are stories that deal with the process of decision (“Ordinary People”), and stories where the character is incapable of deciding. These are generally delicate, small stories requiring more advanced skills. What has to happen for a character to begin her journey? There must be more pleasure associated with the process than pain. There must be more motivation to move forward than to stay back. These motivations are both external and internal: the ghosts of our childhood are with us forever.

Tad James’ “Time Line Therapy” has an elegant model of the internal alignment which must exist in order to move toward our goals. Combining this with the Lifewriting approach, the following should be true (and this is slightly redundant):

1) Have a clearly visualized goal.
2) Your value hierarchy must be congruent with the goal.
3) Your beliefs must allow accomplishment of the goal. (You must believe it is possible, and that it is good, and that there will be more pleasure than pain associated with the result.)
4) Your positive and negative emotional “anchors” must permit the goal.
5) Your view of your personal history must allow the goal.
6) Your current web of associations must support the goal, or at least not be threatened by it.

Characters will always trip themselves up on one or another of these levels. And so will you, my friends. This is where meditation comes in. The first 15 minutes or so of meditation will be torture, as your ego tries like hell to stop you from going inward. This is absolutely normal. Just watch the thrashing, and record it in your journal. In metaphorical form, this is all fodder for your writing–or the way you learn the language of your subconscious. Your dreams will also be filled with imagery related to your quest. Write them down!

-Steve Barnes

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