Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 31, 2018

The Dark Moment of the Author’s Journey

A writers, we know about the “dark moment” in the story structure known as The Hero’s Journey. It’s the moment where all seems lost, where the hero appears utterly defeated and failure seems assured. The dark moment usually also entails some sort of moral reckoning within the hero, a denunciation of old, flawed beliefs and an embracing of new, better beliefs.

Almost every writer has experienced a dark moment during their writing process. Some come upon it when they are drafting. They get to a certain point in the book and they hit a wall. Every word is a struggle, the excitement of the idea is gone, and we are certain this story is the worst piece of dreck ever written and we should just delete it and pretend it never happened. Sometimes the dark moment rears its head in the editing process, when we are so sick and tired of looking at the story that we almost don’t care anymore if it’s good—and we’re too close to be objective anyway.

But authors also can experience dark moments in their careers. A moment when something snaps—maybe one rejection too many, or a harsh critique, or a bad review—and they start to wonder if they even want to write anymore. When the whole thing seems like a lot of work for no reward. Do they really want to keep beating their head against the wall? Is it too late to go back to being a hobby writer?

Many writers have come upon that moment of reckoning. Some rally and move past; others simply walk away from it all. Neither choice is wrong—it must fit that person’s life goals. Each writer who comes to that point must take a long hard look at where they are, where they’ve been, and what their goals really are. It’s the time when our writing community becomes a lifeboat, keeping us afloat while we figure things out.

I have read several articles this week about writers who have rallied back from that dark moment. I want to hear from you. Have you ever thought of giving up—and what made you decide to keep trying? What tips can you give a writer facing that dark moment to help them decide which option is best for them?

Perhaps the best encouragement for continuing comes from the Hero’s Journey structure itself:

The Dark Moment is not the end of the story.



  1. What an excellent post – applicable to many aspects of regular life too


  2. […] 3. The Dark Moment of the Author’s Journey […]


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