Last week I discussed profile writing as an alternative to just printing a regular interview. This week, I want to take that a step further and discuss writing a profile as a life story. Writing a life story might seem a bit daunting, but if you have the right outline you can stay on track and create an original, interesting article. The outline we are going to use is the “Hero’s Journey” or monomyth.
The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling format originally identifed by Joseph Campbell, but one that is as old as stories themselves. Once you are familiar with the pattern, you will realize that it applies to many stories you already know, from the fictional Star Wars to the true story of Abraham Lincoln. As a blogger writing a profile, you will find that you can follow the Hero’s Journey for many of your subjects.
In a fictional Hero’s Journey, you can write and arrange your characters in whatever way best works with the pattern. As a blogger you will be writing about real individuals and so you can only outline your story in this format if you have enough information to track a Hero’s Journey at some point in your subject’s life. It will not work for every person you interview because some people just do not share the type of information you need to follow their journey. But when it does, you will end up with a solid and unique profile that hooks your readers and, if you study the process carefully, can really highlight your writing ability.
The Hero’s Journey is essentially a process of Separation, Initiation and Return. These three sequential occurences are further broken down into somewhere between 8 and 12 steps. As you can already tell, this pattern gives you a clear outline with which to work and you will know very quickly if it can be applied to your subject or not. Here is a brief overview of the eight basic steps:
Step One: The Call
The call is an invitation into the unknown. The unknown can be either physical or spiritual. Physical calls may take the hero away from family, place him* in a strange land and/or overcome a hardship or constriction. Spiritually, your subject may have felt trapped, out of place or like she just did not “fit” anymore. A call can come gradually or be sparked by some sort of crisis or sudden change.
Step Two: The Threshold
The threshold is the line between the known and unknown. This is the point at which the hero must decide whether or not to accept the call, knowing that he will not be able to turn back after making the choice.
This is also the place in the story at which helpers first appear. In fiction, helpers often bring divine gifts to aid them in the challenges to come. However less magical they may be, helpers are just as important in a “real-life” monomyth. Mentors and guides are the most important types of helpers as they usually provide knowledge or focus that the hero would not otherwise have had. In both fiction and in our own lives, helpers tend to show up when we need them. Carl Jung called this synchronicity.
Step Three: The Challenges
Whether outward (physical) or inward (spiritual, psychological), the challenges faced on the Hero’s Journey are menat to build maturity, skill and confidence. As the journey progresses, the challenges generally increase in difficulty. Temptations are some of the greatest tests on the journey, usually brought by someone attempting to pull the hero away from his path. The hero must face the temptations and deny them to continue on the journey.
In nearly all monomyths, the challenges will target the hero’s weakest points. This will enable him to improve those skills, overcome those fears or otherwise better himself in order to successfully pass the challenge. If a challenge is failed, the hero may suffer a minor setback or be forced to end the journey and return home defeated.
Step Four: The Abyss
The Abyss is the greatest challenge of the journey. It comes after the hero has had time to improve upon weaknesses, but usually requires that he give everything of which he is capable in order to succeed. It is at this stage of the journey where the hero must defeat or work past his fatal flaw or risk failing the challenge and, by extension, the journey.
Step Five: The Revelation
The revelation is a shifting of the way the hero thinks or views life. Generally sudden and/or dramatic, the revelation either takes place before or after the hero descends into the abyss.
Step Six: The Transformation
Once the Revelation has taken place and the Abyss is conquered, the hero has completed his change. Having overcome great fears and weaknesses, he is a new person and is nearly ready to complete the journey by returning home.
Step Seven: The Atonement
Before the hero can make his way back home, he must come to terms with his “new” self. The transformation has been fully completed, but it may take some reflection for the hero to fully integrate everything he has learned on the journey. The Atonement is essentially the official rebirth of the hero, bringing harmony and balance back to his life.
Step Eight: The Return
To complete the journey, the hero must come full circle. Because he has changed, he often is able to use his new knowledge or skills to better the world he left when he answered the call. Sometimes the hero returns too enlightened for his old home and either backslides, enlightens others or must again accept a call in order to find balance.
Though a novel or other work of fiction generally focuses on a single Hero’s Journey, in real life we usually go through many. These journeys can be short or long, profound or somewhat mundane. What they all have in common is that we come through them changed. In my lifetime I can think of several just off the top of my head: going to kindergarten, going to college, coming out, my mother’s battle with cancer…the list goes on and on. The point is, nearly everyone has at least one Hero’s Journey in his life. As a writer, it is your job to find it.
The monomyth format can create a unique and unexpected outline for a profile on your blog. While it is not widely used in non-fiction, it is used even less by bloggers. So next time you are interviewing someone, as him about a life-changing experience and see if he will share enough for you to map out his Hero’s Journey. Not only are they fun to write, they are also very interesting and enjoyable to read.
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*I used the male pronoun because it was the first one that came to mind and constantly writing he/she or him/her can really ruin the natural flow of an article. I promise I am not sexist.
Do You Need to Make a Huge Blogging Shift?
Sometimes, you get bogged down with your blogging routine. Routines feel comfortable, right?
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But blogging is a feeling game like life is a feeling game. All flows based on your emotions. If you feel really good – first – then you take good feeling blogging actions and over time, with patience and trust, see good feeling blogging results.
Unfortunately, most humans give almost zero thought to their emotions before diving in to a blogging routine. Bloggers believe you need to do something or follow a set routine to succeed, to drive traffic, and to make money. Day after day, year after year, most bloggers follow a routine without giving zero thought to how they are feeling, if they enjoy blogging, if they have fun following the routine, and if they feel detached, patient and trusting in the process.
This is the only reason why as of about 7 years ago, 80% of bloggers never made more than $100 during their blogging careers. If 8 out of 10 humans can not make $100 through blogging over 1, 2, 5 or 10 years, 8 out of 10 bloggers clearly give zero thought to their feelings BEFORE blogging. Feel bad, and you see no money. But those 2 out of 10 bloggers who feel really good make lots of money over the long haul.
Maybe it is time to make a shift, guys.
2-3 months ago I made one shift. 1 month ago I made an even bigger shift; quite huge, for me. But what I did differently made almost zero difference. How I chose to feel marked the big shift, then, I moved into different blogging actions.
For example, I faced some deep fears, felt the fears, and instantly, after feeling pretty crappy for a short time, I felt better and better. Choosing to face fear, clear it, and feel better, helped me see things clearly. I tired of my blogging schedule, my social sharing groups, blog commenting and heavy cross promotion. In truth, I hated it. I did have some fun with each for a while but the passion long left me. Since how you feel before and while you blog means everything, my mindset-feeling shift told me I’d have so much fun guest posting. So as of about 3-4 weeks ago – maybe less – all I do is guest posting because I have fun guest posting and guest posting comes easily to me.
Making the shift involved facing deep fears of failure, loss and struggle. I had to feel the fear of letting go lifeless activities for me – at the time – to clear out the fear, and properly release these strategies, and to move forward so I could feel good, then, decide what blogging actions would feel fun and easy and enjoyable to me.
All shifts happen emotionally first, by your choice. After feeling some muck and then feeling better, you clearly and intuitively feel through the next fun-feeling, enjoyable step.
What About You?
Do you need to make any shifts with your blogging campaign? Or do you need to make one big, sweeping, all-encompassing shift?
Getting caught up in blogging routines feels comfortable, familiar and safe, sometimes. But do you feel good before you begin the routine? Do you feel good working the routine? Do you feel detached, relaxed, trusting and like you are cared for, and prospering, while following your blogging routine?
Be honest to make a necessary shift. If you love following your routine, cool. Proceed. But most humans are taught – me included – to follow some routine (no matter how you feel) to get something, specifically money, so you can avoid failure, struggle, poverty, going hungry, illness, and embarrassment. This is exactly why most humans work jobs. Follow a routine to get money even if you feel really bad or terrible following the work-routine; aka, even if you hate your job and it feels lifeless, or soul-less.
May be time for a big shift guys.
Why Comedians Teach You a Powerful Blogging Lesson
Last night I saw a funny comedian perform in Atlantic City.
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Chris Delia charmed the audience with his silly, somewhat absurd, level of humor.
He also explained how comedians need thick skin to become successful. Humor is a very personal, subjective topic. Some people find some comedians hysterical but never laugh at other comedians. As you imagine, bombing feels terrible to most comedians. At least until they develop a thick skin.
I once read how Kevin Hart often waited until 1 AM to work an open mic. Sometimes he waited until 1 AM and the place closed down so he never got the chance to do his set. Imagine how thick-skinned you need to be to not let that bother you? Is it any wonder why he is now worth $150 million? He became immune to criticism, failure and rejection. As a matter of fact, after developing a thick skin, he likely did not see criticism, failure or rejection.
All those evenings of 1 AM sets in front of 1-2 lifeless people or all those nights of being told to go home at 1 AM after waiting for hours to do his act purged the fear of criticism, failure and rejection from his being. Void of these fears, he rose up to being one of the most famous, wealthy and powerful comedians on earth.
Bloggers Need Thick Skin
I once promoted a course to the tune of 8000 page views before I sold one copy. Did I quit promoting the course? No. I developed a thick skin during the process. I did not see 8000 rejections. I only saw meeting and helping more human beings through my blog. Even during moments when I felt like giving up I trusted in myself and believed in the blogging process. Quitting and failure were no options for me. But in the same vein, I needed to be thick skinned to see through criticism, rejection and failure.
I needed to be aware of opportunity amid the appearance of nobody reading my blog. Toss in being patient and persistent in helping folks during my most trying times and you have a pretty thick-skinned individual.
Do Not Care What People Think
Chris Delia shared how he could care less what people thought about him. He dressed down a few hecklers during the show.
Comedians succeed because they care less about what people think of their acts; being heckled, ignored or criticized had nothing to do with their belief in self and their belief in their comedic style.
As a blogger, give no thought to what people think of you. Guess what? You cannot control your reputation. No matter how long and hard you work in life to maintain a positive reputation, you can never physically control what people think of you. I am largely a nice guy 99.99% of the time yet some people genuinely hate me. I cannot control their demons. Plus I know we see the world as we see ourselves so if someone hates themselves I cannot do anything about that self-loathing.
Focus on yourself. Focus on what you think about yourself because this is the only thing that matters. Being comfortable in your own skin aligns you with loving, loyal followers who appreciate you for who you are. Let go everybody else. Critics form an energetic yoke if you care about their thoughts but dissolve into thin air when you could care less about what they think of you.
Bloggers become successful because these few folks who have thick skins shine brightly in a world of thin-skinned bloggers who fear criticism, judgment and rejection. The few who step it up do wonders because we all want a piece of free spirits who march to the beat of their own drum without caring what people think, say or do, in response or reaction to them simply being themselves.
Do You Have an Exit Plan for Your Blog?
This past week I ceased sharing posts in blogging tribes.
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I finally got it; I joined tribes because I feared unless I shared other blogger content, nobody would read my content. I feared if nobody shared my content, nobody reads my content, and I needed to share other blogger content to effectively influence bloggers and people to share mine. Ouch.
As you can imagine, I put in many long, hard hours working a job, NEEDING to be online to succeed with my blog. Rewind. Working a job. Did you see this phrase? I worked a job. I needed to be online to succeed. Largely, at least. Does that sound like a business owner to you? Does that sound like leveraging? Sure I drive some passive traffic and profits to my blog but being honest, I largely worked a job and had a job for much of my 10 years online, and I did not have a pure business so I could step away from my blog and business for months, at a time. Or, forever.
I have more of an exit plan now. I have a blogging business. I am writing my tail off to be in as many spots as possible without relying on sharing tribes and other groups that require me to be online, to social share posts, so other people can social share my posts, so I get traffic and profits. I began to think; what am I doing? I mean, if you love joining social sharing tribes, do it. Nice friendship builder. But you need to have some exit plan with your business and need to see how you can step away one day so it is about a 100% passive income machine – or, so you can sell it at a tidy profit – in order for you to be a free entrepreneur, versus a bound employee.
I am having so much fun writing blog posts and guest posts daily. Plus it is easy peasy. Every piece of content is forever, unless all these blogs vanish or get closed out by all these bloggers. Fat chance. Plus I can drive to Atlantic City today with my wife and enjoy a show this afternoon into evening and my business will still grow from a heavy passive element. Even though I am online writing this morning, all my blog posts and guest posts serve as a passive promotional army for the Blogging From Paradise blog and brand.
Imagine me trying to social share other blogger posts as I am driving down the Parkway? Not happening.
Network. Have fun making friends. Build a rock solid foundation for your blog. But eventually, evolve into someone who leverages your presence so you work a business, not a job. Any strategy 100% dependent on you being online, sharing blogger content so other bloggers share your content and boost your success, is a job, not a business, because you are tied to the online world and have no exit strategy, and a light passive element to your blogging business.
Gradually place less emphasis on networking online. Focus on purely passive elements, like writing more blog posts and guest posts, which last forever. Humans change, quit, fail, change tastes; you never want to be at the mercy of the fickle human beast. Unless all blogs close down, all of those blog posts and guest posts you wrote are pretty much forever.
Focusing a bit more on things – things helping people – helps you leverage your blog and business powerfully so you can make an exit plan and step away from your blogging business for 1, 2 or 3 months. I know bloggers who take vacations for months; everything keeps growing money-wise because they leverage, and are not dependent on people for cash flow, because their system creates the cash flow.
Trust in the process plays a big role too.
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