A Writer's Journey

  • Heather Dyer

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A Writer’s Journey is a memoir that describes my journey through a creative block, during which time I also explored the practice of mindfulness. Throughout the memoir I draw parallels between creativity and the practice of mindfulness, concluding that that both require a non-judgemental, playful, curious mind set which is not attached to a set outcome. Both creativity and mindful awareness ultimately require a deconstruction of the self in order to attain new insights, or growth. A Writer’s Way describes my efforts to achieve a deconstruction of the self through mindful awareness in order to restore my creativity. A Writer’s Journey therefore explicitly aligns two paradigms: the creative process and spiritual growth. However, as a quest narrative, A Writer’s Journey also implicitly aligns a third paradigm: the mythic archetype or universal symbolic story structure as outlined in Joseph Campbell’s monomyth The Hero’s Journey. In all three paradigms the ‘protagonist’ experiences an initial dissatisfaction followed by a period of dialectic tension, after which they must deconstruct their egoic self and move beyond conditioned thinking to receive new insights. The original contribution of the critical commentary is a close examination of the ways in which the mythic archetype and the creative process are aligned. I conclude that the archetype can be read as a metaphor for the creative process itself (the mythic approach to creativity), and that the message implicit in the archetype is ‘live creatively’. Reading the mythic archetype as a metaphor for the creative process has implications for our understanding of the purpose of story as well as our understanding of the mechanisms of the creative process. I explore this in ‘Chapter 3 – What Do Stories Do?’ I suggest that the annihilation of the egoic self that the hero experiences in the belly of the whale is analogous with the incubation phase required for creative insight. In both paradigms, I suggest that a temporary ‘deconstruction of the self’ is required before new insights or growth can be attained. A deconstruction of the self is the ultimate aim of the practice of mindful meditation, or mindful awareness. The critical commentary also makes explicit how the memoir conforms to the stages of the mythic archetype. As a quest narrative in which the quest is creativity itself, A Writer’s Journey illustrates the mythic approach to creativity. It also illustrates the mythic approach to spirituality. I believe that the original contribution of the creative folio, therefore, is that it demonstrates the mythic approach to both creativity and spirituality, in the form of a reading
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorLuke Thurston (Supervisor)

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