The Writer's Journal is a terribly overrated book. These are my main complaints:
1) The book is repetitive. And then the book repeats the same thing. And it is repeated again. The book is, indeed, very repetitive. Repetitive. (Maybe because this was originally a memo written by the author with some guidelines based on mythology studies. That is expanded to 370 pages).
2) For a movie fan, the mistakes are unbearable. By example: that the Jabba the Hut conflict introduced in "Star Wars", is solved by "The Empire Strikes Back". I am confident that there is no need for me to clarify here the correction.
3) The formula (sorry, "the form", as the author calls it) is not universal as he claims. Sure, it has been used thousands of times, which is why so many movies feel "formulaic" (from "formula", not "form"). There are 12 steps (or stages) described by the author. Then he tries to apply them to classic or popular movies. But this works more like dealing with Nostradamus and his prophecies: you take a "prophecy" and force it to fit to an actual event. The author does the same thing. He takes a "movie moment", and tries to make it fit with his description of one of the steps. This calls to be vague, so he can have the flexibility for making his theory fit. So Alex Foley in "Beverly Hills Cop" is stopped by his boss before leaving Detroit. That is the "First Threshold". No, sorry, in another part of the book, it is a variation of "Refusal of the Call". And the boss is a mentor. No, sorry, he is a guardian. And Eddie Murphy is the Hero, and a Trickster, hell, no, he is a Mentor to the cops in Beverly Hills. While the author tries to explain that this shows the flexibility of the norm, it is really more trying to force existing movies into his formula (ups, form!)
4)The book is not useful as a reference. Really, I am surprised by how overrated is "The Writer's Journal"