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Speaking On Stage At Author Advantage Live

This summer I was one of four authors selected to speak on stage at Author Advantage LIVE in Austin, Texas, a gathering of over 400 independently published authors.

I wrote my best selling, award winning book The Artist’s Journey after discovering Chandler Bolt’s Self Publishing School.

AA LIVE- The Artist's Journey is a hero's journey. Stepping into the Unknown.

Author Advantage LIVE- The Artist’s Journey is a hero’s journey. Stepping into the Unknown.

I spoke about the hero’s journey inherent in the artist’s journey- about saying YES to your dreams, stepping into the unknown and facing and finding yourself there.

The auditions began with the challenge of giving a two minute speech on Facebook live. It’s amazing how difficult it is to hone a talk down to two minutes!

Talk about constraint– this was the definition of it.

After being chosen as a finalist, the final challenge was to give a 3 minute speech “live” on social venue and garner interaction with the audience.

The competition was fierce.

I gave the speech and got over 200 inspiring and meaningful comments and stories and over 21,000 views. Because of your support, we got more responses by far than anyone else in the running.

Meanwhile, I didn’t hear a peep from the organizers for weeks. I figured I hadn’t been chosen and the experience receded in my mind.

One day, I got an email out of the blue saying that I’d been one of the four selected to speak on stage in front of over 400 authors- only then did the terror set in! This is actually going to happen!

So many of you responded to my Facebook live talk and I believe this is a big reason why I was chosen to speak on stage. Thank you.

Nancy Hillis preparing to speak on stage at Author Advantage LIVE

Preparing to speak on stage at Author Advantage LIVE


My speech was filmed in Austin. There were video and audio clips which you hear but don’t see.

I hope my talk inspires and encourages you to believe in yourself and say YES to the dreams that live inside you waiting to be realized.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

With gratitude from my studio to yours,



The Artist’s Journey, named one of the Best Creativity Books of All Time by BookAuthority


Best Creativity Books Of All Time-BookAuthority

Images from The Artist’s Journey is a Hero’s Journey Talk

Dante Alighieri’s words spoke to me across 7 centuries

The Artist's Journey is a Hero's Journey. Dr. Nancy Hillis, best selling author of The Artist's Journey, artist and Stanford trained psychiatrist speaks at Author Advantage LIVE in Austin, Texas

Say YES to YOUR dreams


Dr. Nancy Hillis: The Artist's Journey is a Hero's Journey. Never give up on your dreams.

Never give up

Dr. Nancy Hillis speaks on stage at Author Advantage LIVE in Austin, Texas. "The Artist's Journey is a Hero's Journey".


Walking on stage- facing fears and going ahead anyway

Dr. Nancy Hillis: The Artist's Journey is a Hero's Journey


May YOU say YES to YOUR dreams.

The Artist's Journey is a Hero's Journey. Dr. Nancy Hillis, best selling author of The Artist's Journey speaks on stage at Author Advantage LIVE in Austin, Texas


The book that launched a thousand possibilities





00:00:08 Dr. Nancy Hillis is a Stanford trained psychiatrist, and she’s also very passionate about helping authors.

00:00:16 She’s been featured in Inc.magazine and The New York Observer.

00:00:19 She lives in Santa Cruz, California right near me, and I’m really looking forward to hearing this.

00:00:24 So if you could, give her a big round of applause.

00:00:27 And welcome Dr Nancy Hillis.

00:00:42 In the middle of the road of my life, I awoke in a dark wood, and the true way was wholly lost.

00:00:50 These words, by the great poet from the 14th century Dante Alighieri, speak to us across seven centuries of stepping into the unknown and facing and finding yourself there.

00:01:06 And what we’re really talking about here is the hero’s journey, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

00:01:14 So these words were in Dante’s book The Divine Comedy, and in particular they were in the Inferno, and I read these books when I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. I was depressed.

00:01:32 I was bored and they would send me to the library to read Hamlet because the school didn’t have the classes I needed, and I ended up staying home a lot to read Dante and his word’s reached me.

00:01:45 He was 35 when he wrote those words.

00:01:47 I was 17 when I read them, half his age, and yet he spoke to me across the centuries, and you might relate to this.

00:01:57 There are books that change your life and

00:02:00 Dante’s book was one of those for me. What I didn’t realize at the time, just around the bend, was another reality awaiting, and you may have had that too, where you can’t see it yet, you don’t know what’s going to happen, what’s next.

00:02:17 Unbeknownst to me, I would go on to college and medical school, and I would study painting and sculpture.

00:02:27 And later have the most amazing experience of having a child when I was 41 years old and then finding the love of my life and then writing a book. It’s kind of like you’re on the edge of something, something new unfolding, but you can’t quite see it at the time.

00:02:44 Perhaps you can relate to this.

00:02:48 Something’s calling you, and I know that in the great stories that it talks about the call.

00:02:55 And it’s really about stepping into the unknown continually in our lives and in our art and in our writings.

00:03:03 And I think we’re trying to get at something ineffable and inarticulable and mysterious that lives in each one of us.

00:03:12 And so that’s the call.

00:03:14 And Dante felt this call.

00:03:16 He was yearning for something.

00:03:19 He was yearning for his love.

00:03:21 Beatrice.

00:03:22 He was yearning for God, and in fact, he was even searching for himself.

00:03:28 And so we begin to realize that we’re called on some kind of a journey of creation.

00:03:35 It might be to write a book, to write a story, to become an author.

00:03:41 It might be that you want to paint.

00:03:44 It might be that you want to learn an instrument, or it might be that you want to sing opera.

00:03:53 It might be want to play an instrument in the orchestra or dance or choreography.

00:03:59 Whatever it is, something is calling you-  something that brings you alive.

00:04:05 It might be an expedition, but the problem is that we refuse.

00:04:14 We say no.

00:04:16 We turn our face away. We’re afraid, we’re unsure and we come up with reasons why.

00:04:22 Perhaps this isn’t the time, and so we place our dreams on hold, and yet it keeps bothering us because something’s nudging us, saying there’s something that is really vital for me to express or to be within this life.

00:04:40 There’s an old saying: Find joy in your life.

00:04:45 It’s later than you think. You simply cannot afford to wait.

00:04:53 And so finally, you can’t take it any longer.

00:04:56 In that moment you say, yes, you leap, you jump, you say Yes, even though you don’t know what you’re doing, even though you’re terrified- and this is an amazing thing. It’s zero to one. This is a really interesting concept to me because it’s this mathematical concept that the interval between zero and one is greater than any other interval: one to tow, two to three and so on.

00:05:22 And to me, this is an incredibly exciting idea, Dante said:

00:05:29 A great flame follows a little spark.

00:05:33 It’s the miracle of saying yes and it’s the moment that you bring something to life.

00:05:41 The moment you say Yes, the moment you begin anything, the moment you go from zero to one, you’re bringing it to life and other possibilities fall away.

00:05:50 This is vital to creation, to realize that there are constraints, that you’re making a decision when you’re a creative and other possibilities fall away.

00:06:04 But others open up and within that decision, and this comes from the Latin word decidere, and it’s basically to cut off.

00:06:16 So you have to cut off things in order to open up something new.

00:06:23 And I believe that this is also speaking about the vital ideas that constraint and specificity are essential to creativity.

00:06:35 If you look at all visual patterns together.

00:06:39 You’ll just get white snow.

00:06:40 You’ll get chaos if all sounds are heard together.

00:06:47 It’s just noise, that kind of white noise that is not art. Art depends upon decision.

00:06:56 And so

00:06:57 Creativity is connected to uniqueness, and uniqueness is exquisitely connected to choice.

00:07:06 It’s all connected, and so your choices carve out your identity on your journey of self expression, and this really relies upon trusting yourself.

00:07:22 This is navigating the landscape of trusting yourself, believing in what it is that’s inside of you that you need to express and only you can express and it’s also believing that there were paths for you that will open up and you may not be able to see them yet.

00:07:41 But they’re there for you and they will unfold.

00:07:43 And that takes trust even though you’re afraid.

00:07:48 And so what we’re really talking about is embracing uncertainty.

00:07:54 It’s really about listening to the call.

00:07:59 What is it that’s calling you?

00:08:00 What is it that’s nudging you.

00:08:00 What is it that’s whispering to you?

00:08:03 What is it?

00:08:05 And finally saying yes and diving down deep into the unconscious into the underbelly of the unknown continually.

00:08:15 But there are perils there.

00:08:16 The moment you say

00:08:17 Yes, the moment you start something new, you go down into the perils, and the perils are self doubt.

00:08:26 That’s probably one of the biggest ones. Inner criticism.

00:08:31 Second guessing, overthinking, procrastination and resignation.

00:08:41 But there are guides

00:08:43 who show up

00:08:49 Well, let’s say that with Dante he had Virgil, the great Roman poet Virgil.

00:08:53 But yet even so, there’s the dark night of the soul, and this is the moment that you really have to face on your own because you’re actually going inward and facing yourself, and the guides can’t do that for you.

00:09:06 the week.

00:09:06 The guides can take you so far and help and they do.

00:09:10 But the dark night of the soul, the moment of greatest self doubt is the moment that you must face yourself.

00:09:19 And that’s the moment.

00:09:20 I believe, where the transformation happens, the transformation being the trust, the inner wisdom, the understanding that comes from stepping into that unknown and listening to yourself and even just a little bit more trust.

00:09:41 And then you return back into your life a little bit changed, a little more trust than you had before, and before you know it, another dream calls you and you say yes, and then you’re in it again, this cycle of creation.

00:10:03 So, really, the fundamental aspect of the hero’s journey, I believe, is going from the known to the unknown continually.

00:10:14 So let’s look at an incredible example of the hero’s journey in film. This structure of the hero’s journey, hews as rigorously and exquisitely as the series of moves of classical ballet choreography. Star Wars.

00:10:36 So we have a hero, Luke Skywalker, and we have his mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi, trainer of the Jedi knights.

00:10:47 And the good Princess Leia, head of the Rebel Alliance.

00:10:58 And so we have the call.

00:11:44 The evil empire is causing trouble, and the Princess needs help.

00:11:48 And we now have the call and the refusal.

00:11:53 Luke will be called.

00:11:55 But let’s see what happened.



00:12:33 So that’s the refusal, which we all do.

00:12:38 But then there’s a moment where you can’t refuse any longer.

00:12:42 It is the moment that changes everything.

00:12:45 Your life will never be the thing.


00:13:53 And so Luke found that his aunt and uncle had died.

00:13:56 His father was already presumably dead.

00:13:59 But this was the moment.

00:14:03 And so there’s a moment when you finally have to say yes and you can no longer turn your face away.

00:14:09 But there are perils.

00:19:00 Only by trusting himself, by going inside could he fight this evil battle and win.

00:19:18 And so we have the return back to yourself back to your life.

00:20:05 It’s so basically you come back to yourself… and we see the hero’s journey in art. Here’s Rembrandt, one of my favorite artists.

00:20:12 I used to stare at reproductions of The Man With A Golden Helmet and The Girl With A Broom.

00:20:19 And imagine that the figures could come out of the canvas.

00:20:24 And this is one of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings.

00:20:26 The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp, one of most innovative paintings of its time in terms of portraiture.

00:20:33 And he was one of the most experimental artists of all time.

00:20:37 And here’s some incredible work.

00:20:39 of his- impasto strokes.

00:20:43 So The danger, of course, is in the refusal.

00:20:46 For artists

00:20:47 It’s always there- writers as well. So here’s something to think about: The hero’s journey

00:20:54 in music.

00:20:56 Imagine that the hero is not a character but rather a song or melody.

00:21:01 Something abstract.

00:21:05 Like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

00:21:14 Do you get the idea?

00:21:35 Basically, the melody goes on a journey.

00:21:38 It’s like the hero.

00:21:39 It has an individual characters, style or signature.

00:21:43 It undergoes a test.

00:21:44 It gets distorted, modified reflected.

00:21:48 It’s thrown into minor keys or different harmonies.

00:21:52 It gets bent, kneaded, twisted, pushed.

00:21:55 It’s restored to its individuality, and it returns itself.

00:21:59 It’s very own hero’s journey. And it’s also in play, in childhood’s play

00:22:06 We all were wondering and discovering things and stepping into the unknown continually as children. You think about hide and seek, and you think about peekaboo.

00:22:16 These games are about, going out, losing yourself and finding yourself and being reflected in your parent’s eyes.

00:22:24 Just like This Little Piggy

00:22:25 It goes to the market.

00:22:26 This little piggy goes home, and so on. You’re going out and then coming back, leaving and returning, back and forth.

00:22:33 And as adults we’re losing and finding ourselves as well.

00:22:36 We’re continually getting lost in the dance of the flow in the magic of that moment and then re-finding ourselves in our art and in our writings.

00:22:46 I think it really gets down to Why.

00:22:48 Why?

00:22:49 Why does your art matter?

00:22:51 Why does your writing matter?

00:22:53 And I believe it’s about exploring the reaches of who you are.

00:22:58 It’s about being like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, who went on this dream journey and realized in the very end that it was a dream and that what she needed was inside of herself all along, believing in herself.

00:23:12 And so we return full circle back to Dante Alighieri

00:23:21 Who found himself in the dark wood, lost. But he had Virgil to help him down in hell. He was searching for something and he did find what he was searching for.

00:23:35 And I assert to you that this journey is about rediscovering and reaffirming yourself again and again, in your heart and in your life, and that you’re continually stepping into the unknown. And so I ask you to reflect on all the moments that you have said yes to your dream, your dreams, to something that called you, something that nudged you, something you wanted to do and somehow you did.

00:24:05 Even though you said to yourself, I don’t know what I’m doing.

00:24:07 You went ahead anyway. You said yes.

00:24:12 And so I’m asking you now.

00:24:14 What are you searching for?

00:24:17 What is calling you?

00:24:19 What is the truth that lives inside of you that is waiting to be expressed?

00:24:27 What is the dream?

00:24:29 You simply must say yes to?

Thank you.

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