A Mudmap for Living

‘We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us’


Campbell’s quote is a gentle, possibly frustrating, reminder that life does not always go to plan. It’s a reminder that all the complaining, blaming and distress about not having the life we want is simply a waste of time and effort. This simple quote to encourage us to accept what is, is often a really difficult lesson to learn.

I wrote this book at a time in my life when I was lost.  I had spent a lot of time and effort trying to create the life I thought I wanted and it just wouldn’t fly.  Doors kept closing in my face.  Expectations were dashed.  People I wanted to impress weren’t.  People I wanted didn’t want me.  My life was a continuous exercise in huge effort for little reward.

I came across Campbell’s idea of the Hero’s Journey when I was learning how to write plays.  His interviews with Bill Moyers were captivating, however, Campbell’s book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ was difficult to read.  So much information.  In it, Campbell suggests that one familiar storyline underpins a particular story found across the millennia.  Initially, I thought this idea silly.  But I needed to write a play so I needed to cover all my bases. Chris Vogler’s book ‘The Writer’s Journey’ explained the ideas of Campbell and lays them out in a clear and concise manner.  This book provided me with a key to understanding Campbell.

So off I went to write my plays and become world famous but every now and then, I thought recognised bits of this storyline, the Hero’s Journey, happening in my own life.

Being a psychologist and adhering to evidence-based approaches to understanding life, I dismissed these thoughts as silly.  But these moments of recognising aspects of the hero’s journey  happening in my own life continued.  I soon found myself treating my life as a hero’s journey.  If I was the main character who was my story about?  If events in my life were a Call to Adventure, what was I going to do?  How would I resolve my significant life problem? If the hero’s journey is essentially a series of increasingly more difficult tests for the main character to resolve, what were the tests in my own life? What would I need to do to address them?

Treating my life as a hero’s journey turned out to be exactly what Campbell had promised.  Doors opened where previously I had only seen walls.  I made progress with my life problems, not usually in the way I had hoped, but still real progress and then rewards.  I was creating a life, that resonated with who I really was, what I was really interested in and that adhered to my own values and not those that others wanted me to have.

None of this was easy but it was worth it!

Using the Hero’s Journey to navigate your life won’t make you rich or famous or perfect.  You will still make mistakes, get frustrated, have bad things happen to you.  It will however give you a clear idea of what to do to resolve your life problems.  Whether it’s work, studies, family or relationships, significant life problems require us to change and that is the gift of the Hero’s Journey.  It will help you identify what you need to change and how.

Clive Williams PhD

This is a great guide for modern living from ancient advice. The author takes you through the elements in every classic story and helps you find them in your own. As the main character of your own story, you have thousands of examples to help get through any struggles. Ultimately, this book is about taking charge of your own transformation experience. Highly recommended.


It took me a long time to like this book. Having studied Campbell’s monomyth many years ago, I found this author’s uncritical presentation of it unpalatable. Thankfully, he offers a compelling glimpse at his own hardship and this kept me sufficiently engaged to continue on. Once the groundwork has been covered the author’s thesis is compelling. Through continual examples from both real and fictional stories, Williams describes how ordinary people come to live a more fulfilling life. The book reaches its peak with the life skill of “speaking up” and how this is tied to depression, anger and addiction. In the final chapters the lessons are applied with an account of a broken man who learns to demand fair treatment and regains his life. This distinctly Australian account of self-actualisation makes this book one I recommend.


Mudmap is not a word we use in North America, but the idea of a quick sketch of instructions makes instant sense. This book fulfills its promise to offer such a guide to living. Williams summarizes Joseph Campbell’s writings about mythology and Christopher Vogler’s writings about filmmaking as he draws a mudmap of the Hero’s Journey plot cycle that underlies so many stories. Frequent references to popular movies help knit the chapters together, and they are complemented by real-world anecdotes distilled from four decades of experience as a psychologist. A Mudmap for Living is an excellent introduction to the Hero’s Journey, and it offers three things that distinguish it from other books on this topic. First, Mudmap is written by an experienced mainstream psychologist who has applied these concepts in clinical practice. Second, the author confesses his own life story, which adds authenticity and humanity to his writing. Third, it is clear on every page that author’s mission and vocation is to help those in need. This is overtly stated in the introduction: “This book is designed for people who are in pain. It’s for those who are lost. It’s for anyone who is either seeking change or being forced to change. It’s for people whose lives no longer fit”