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The Unexpected Hiatus

Wow. We are nearly through January, and I have been nowhere to be seen for months.

After my move to Greece, I hit a lot of unexpected hiccups that prevented me from a lot of the set-up I had anticipated, including access to internet, being able to get on an actual phone plan that would allow me to have data for web connection, as well as a few other things.

The island I was on was pretty basic. And when the lockdown measures hit a week after we arrived, we found we weren’t able to access many of the services we needed. At one point, I slipped on a rock and smash my phone completely. Because of the lockdown measures, I couldn’t get it fixed or send for a new one, as these things were seen as non-essential. This is just an example.

As a result, I reserved the little connection I had for my wonderful and patient coaching clients. I am grateful to say that I have been able to continue working with them.

And as is the nature of the universe, more change has arrived on my part as I responded to a family emergency, which has landed me back in the US until further notice. While Greece was an adventure, it won’t be one I’ll likely be returning to. The UK, yes, at some point, but not Greece.

The good news from all of this is that I am now connected again. I have electricity. I have internet. I have a phone plan and a working phone. And while the family emergency is now less emergent, though still present, it is under control and everyone involved is optimistic.

I am grateful to be in the Pacific Northwest again. I am grateful to be able to serve you, my wonderful writing friends and community! And I am grateful to be stepping into the public as a coach again.

Thank you all so much for your patience with me and your support!

New Moon in Libra: Planning Balanced Writing

We are still in the 3-day energy of the New Moon in Libra. Here’s what it can mean for your writing.

This post comes a day late, but we can still harness the new moon energy in our writing! It’s said that there’s a three-day window: the day before, the day of, and the day after. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the new moon is a time of beginning projects and setting goals and intentions. The idea behind this is that as the moon “grows,” as does the fulfillment of your intentions.

Libra represents balance and logic and stability. This new moon in Libra is excellent for creating an outline. In the Tarot, Libra rules the Justice Card, a card purely depicted as Air energy: logic and communication.

New Moon in Libra & Your Writing 

As I mentioned before, the logic of Libra and the intention-setting energy of the new moon indicate this an excellent time for outlining your novel. Likewise, it can be a great time to create a plan of action for your writing process. This is almost as important as having an outline for your plot:

Planning your writing process means:

1. Knowing What Environment Supports Your Creativity Best.

We all have different spaces where we write best, whether it’s a coffee shop, in the stillness of our room, our office space with dubstep blasting, or in the quiet of a library, or the freshness of a park. Having a list of places you can go and be while you write will be handy for when one of those places isn’t available or an option.

It’s important to note, too, that you can create your own optimal writing environment by working on programing your mind to write when you want it to. This does take time, patience, practice, and discipline, but I can be done. This is helpful if, for example, you’re a coffee-shop writer, and the area you live in is in lockdown.

2. Knowing the Time of Day that You Write Best

I am a staunch morning writer. No matter what time I get up, whether it’s 4 in the morning or 9, I hit 3 or 4 o’ clock and I hit my slump. After that it’s like pulling teeth to continue writing.

However, I do not speak for all writers. There are plenty of writers who don’t hit their creative groove until 1 in the morning. Knowing the best time for your writing will help you organize your schedule to accommodate.

3. Knowing How You Experience Exhaustion

Knowing what exhaustion feels like so you can be aware of upcoming burn out is essential. We are all going to hit the wall while we’re running, and we are all going to get knocked down. Until we know what it feels like to approach that wall, or approach burn out, we’re going to run into it a few times.

This is especially true when we’re determined to get through a project, it’s easy to push ourselves to the absolute max. This is the active energy that society and western culture encourages: keep working until you drop. For so many people, “I’m so busy” is a positive mantra. It means that we’re productive, and that, for many, can equate to our worth.

However, writing a book is a balance between active and passive energy. In the tarot, this energy is often called masculine and feminine energy, however, this isn’t the most inclusive terminology, and raises a whole mess of problems. Instead, we active energy (associated with fire and air) and passive energy (associated with water and earth).

When we’re writing or working on any form of creative work, we are harnessing and balancing active and passive energy. The passive energy is the creativity itself. It’s making space for that voice to come up and through you, to connect to that interesting part of yourself that sees the world a little differently, and has a dire urge to express it. The active energy is the creation itself—painting, writing, dancing, singing.

To write is to find balance (libra) between the two.

4. Knowing What Measure to Take to Prevent Burn Out

This means knowing yourself enough to know what you need to rest and recover in a healthy way. The best way you can prevent burnout is to know yourself and know what’s approaching and how to cut it off at the pass.

For me, personally, I know that burnout happens when I don’t practice certain things, like daily meditation, journaling, drinking enough water, and exercise. I know it’s approaching when I take on too many things and I don’t communicate my needs and limits.

You can read more about burnout in a blog post here or by clicking the button below:

5. Knowing How to Care for Yourself When Burnout Strikes

The first thing you need to remember to do is remind yourself that it’s okay that burnout happens. And everything is going to be there if you stop and give yourself permission to rest. That’s the hardest challenge—to convince yourself it’s alright to recover. But you can’t effectively do your work if you don’t have any energy. Open communication is one of the best tools you have.

When you do hit that wall, spend some time reflecting when you can. Ask yourself

  • if you can recall the warning signs leading up to burn out
  • when would have been a productive time to give yourself permission to rest before you hit the wall

Most importantly, forgive yourself for hitting the wall. When we hit a wall, we fall backwards. We might even stay down for a little while, and that’s okay. You need to make sure you’re okay and that you haven’t damaged anything. The force of hitting that wall might have broken your nose or given you a concussion. It’s okay to spend time recovering. Give yourself that permission.

6. Making a Plan for Setting Boundaries Surrounding Your Writing Time

There are a lot of people who don’t understand what it means to be a writer. They think you can just sit down and write whenever you want. But it is essential that you create a sacred, off-limits time to write, which can be difficult.

When you create a plan ahead of time of how to communicate the importance of this time with your friends and family, then it becomes a little easier. With time, they’ll understand, or at least, get into the know that you are not available to move your writing time around.

You are allowed to set boundaries for your creative time. And they will learn to respect it, though it will be a process. You don’t need to make excuses, just set the boundaries.

7. Creating Balance

As mentioned, this new moon in libra is about balance. We’ve talked a lot about setting boundaries and protecting your writing time and creativity as well as yourself during the creative process. But the other thing that needs to be balanced is your time with your loved ones.

Your community, family, and social network play an important role in your mental health. Making sure you still have time, whether it’s a day on the weekend or a couple hours in the evening for some quality time with those you care about can not only keep you motivated along your writing, but help to recharge your batters.

If, for example, you want a career as a writer, then you need to know how to balance work and personal life. It gets tricky when your work is from home, especially if you don’t have a designated office. Starting to understand this balance now, before your income relies on it, will be essential and more than helpful later down the line.

Balance is the Key

balance macro ocean pebbles
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Balance is the key when you’re planning your outline, or when you’re making a writing process plan. If you have too much plot, then your characters get washed out. If you have too much world buildings, then your plot becomes obscured.

If you have too much work, you hit that metaphorical wall, which has been known to halt a project or two.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. They are just some of the things to keep in mind as you set your writing intentions. This is essential to think about if you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

Support Through NaNoWriMo

Having support during National Novel Writing Month, or any other time during a massive writing project can the difference to seeing you to the end or a project or the project halting altogether for many writers.

For so many people, 2020 has just been one punch to the gut after another, and they just need a win. As a result, there are a lot of writers who are putting pressure on this year’s NaNoWriMo to be their one win for the year. If they can just finish their novel during this time, then at least something good will have come out of this year.

That’s why the doors to the Intensive Writing Program are open for the first time, though only until October 23.

The Intensive Writing Program, or Package, includes one-on-one support with me as your writing coach, with weekly hour-and-a-half-long coaching calls to help you work through blocks, to hone your writing routine, to overcome obstacles, to talk through your plot/characters/setting, as well as anything else you need to get you through finishing your book.

The entire time you’re writing, I’ll read 12,000 words of your WIP a week, keeping me up to speed on your novel so when we have our coaching calls, I know exactly where you’re at so we can discuss it thoroughly.

Once December hits, that’s when the real fun begins. We spend time discussing a revision plan, looking at holes in the plot, things that might need to be rearranged for the ending to make sense, how to breathe your villain to life—whatever it is your book needs to work. Again, the whole time I will be reading what you write/rearrange/revise. Because I’ll have read it while you write it, you’ll spend less time having to re-read and take notes before your begin revision. I’ll have already done it.

The final two weeks of December will be dedicated to two more rounds of edits, which will go faster than you think, given that I’ll be line editing each time I read through your work in December.

There are only five openings for this program, and the doors are closing October 23rd. If you want to learn more about it, click here or use the button below to reserve your placement. If you have any questions, fill out the form below the button (titled Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me), and I’ll be happy to answer whatever I can.

Happy Writing!

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Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!

Writing with the New Moon

There is usually a lot of fuss around the Full Moon, and what it can do for people. Especially when you think about Halloween, and the spookiness that accompanies it.

However, a moonless night, a night in which no light outside of the stars, is cast down upon the earth, has a far more ominous feel, doesn’t it?

More often than not, in stories, it is the dark moon, or the New Moon, which assists a character. They use its darkness to shield them when they need, allowing them to escape, to sneak, to go undetected. The Full Moon, however, shines light onto the world, often obscuring what’s there, or creating darker shadows where unseen things may lurk.

This week we are looking at the New Moon, and how it can assist us as creatives.

What is the New Moon?

The New Moon happens when the earth blocks the light from the sun, thus casting a shadow onto the moon, making it look nearly invisible, dark, or not there at all.

From an energetic perspective, the New Moon represent something like a clean slate. After the moon has shrunk from the Full Moon down into nothingness, it begins to grow again (the process called “waxing”), and that is where the real excitement of the moon lays.

How to Use the New Moon

This clean slate is often used as a measure of setting intention. This is a time when you set your goals and make a plan for the upcoming cycle. The idea is that, symbolically, as the moon grows, your goals and intentions grow closer to you.

What does this mean in terms of writing?

It’s a great time to start a book.

For many of you reading this as it’s posted, it’s October, and we’re gearing up for November’s National Novel Writing Month. Thus, this New Moon is an excellent time to plan your novel and set the intention of being prepared for NaNoWriMo so that as soon as Halloween transitions into November, you’re ready to go. You have a plan of action to make sure you follow through to the end of the month and to the end of your book.

This is a time to gather your strength as a writer, to gather your tools, your gumption, your creative drive, your characters and your plot. This is a time to summon that which you need to help you get closer to your goal.

The New Moon is a time for planning, outlining, and getting ready to start your novel.

Your Homework

As I write this, tomorrow is the New Moon. Take this time to make a plan for NaNoWriMo, or make a plan for your novel, and gather your resources in preparation.

Make a list of your writing goals for the rest of the year, or for the rest of the moon cycle. Now make a list of how you can achieve each goal.

What is the plan for your novel? Do you know your plot? Your MC? Your antagonist? The world you’re writing about?

And most importantly, do you have someone who can keep you on track the entire time, who can work with you to help you achieve those goals, and beyond?

Right now, for a limited time, the doors to the Intensive Writing Program are open only to 5 people. These doors close on October 23, 2020, and I don’t know when or if they will open again. This is a program designed to give you 13 hours of 1:1 coaching, unlimited access to support through email, and your novel read as you write it so you can have someone there to work with you through revision, editing, and editing again in December.

Interested? Click here or on the button below to learn about how you can get in on this program and make the writing goals you set this New Moon come to fruition.

Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!

Intensive Writing Announcement

I know, I know, NaNoWriMo is coming up! Are you prepared?

What if I told you that I could coach you not only through NaNoWriMo, but I could also get you through a revision and at least two edits—wait for it…before 2021?

That’s what I want to help you with.

I have a very specific package that is designed for November and December only, and only will be offered NOW.

Here’s the thing:

  1. This program is open from now until October 23rd ONLY.
  2. This program ONLY has 5 OPENINGS.

That’s right, and it’s first come, first serve. This offer will close as soon as all the placements are filled or on the 23rds of October, whichever comes first.

What does it entail?

  • 8 hour-and-a-half 1-on-1 sessions, every week
  • Unlimited access to me via email
  • Regular feedback on 12,000 words a week of your WIP all the way through the end.

And if you get to the end of December and succeed in getting through a revision and two edits, then there’s a special bonus for you.

Learn more about it by clicking the button before.


Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!

Writing Through the Moon in October

The moon holds some amazing power over people. Horror stories revolve around it, and the cool blue-white glow of its light can be equally haunting as it is magical. So magical, in fact, that it’s worth of being a writing tool.

The Significance of the Moon

The moon is commonly associated with water, which is easy to see once you think about it. The moon influences the pull of the oceans which results in our tides. It’s said that crime rates go up during a full moon, because it has such an effect on people (remember, a large part of us is made up of water). People plan to travel or launch a business based on the moon. People plant and harvest their gardens according to the moon.

Esoterically, the moon corresponds to water because of it’s shadowiness, which relates to the subconscious or psychic abilities/intuition.

In my post, Writing Through the Elements, I talk about how in the Tarot, water represents the emotion, intuition, the subconscious, and creativity. With the moon relating to water, it’s easy to see that the moon relates to creativity as well.

October 2020

Tomorrow is October 1, which is not only my favorite month given that the best holiday of the year happens during this time, but this year contains a blue moon. A blue moon is when a full moon occurs twice within a month. That second full moon this year? Yeah, you guessed it, it’s on Halloween!

In light of the double full moon, I thought I would make this month about writing with the phases of the moon.

Again, water corresponds to the moon, and water represents creativity. Why not create with the ebb and flow of our biggest satellite?

Water

To connect with the moon, I feel as though we should connect with water, and see how it connects to our creativity.

Consider what water is (aside from H20):

  • Essential for life on earth
  • It can be calm and nourishing
  • It can be violent and destructive
  • The ocean is what connects the world
  • The depths of the ocean are a mystery
  • The shallows of the ocean are pleasant and what we’re used to seeing
  • Water cools us
  • Water warms us (at least, when I’m cold, the only thing that will warm me up is warm water)
  • It can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas
  • It is clear yet blue at the same time
  • A repetitive drop of water can be enough to wear away rock

Just to name a few things and get you started on what water is. What water means to us as individuals might be different. Are you afraid of water? Do you love it? Do you have to be bribed to drink a glass of water?

The ocean holds more secrets at this point than space does. Reaching into its depths teaches us new things about our world.

Reaching inward, much like reaching down into the ocean, helps us to bring to light things we didn’t know about ourselves. It’s an attempt at examining ourselves. It is here that the subconscious lives, and I believe, where creativity reaches from.

Unconscious, Intuition, Creativity

In the Tarot, the element of water, represented by the suit of cups, represents the subconscious, creativity, emotion and intuition. Thus, as a result, because the moon rules water, the moon corresponds to these elements as well.

The moon itself is a strange shadowy thing: sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we see all of it, sometimes we see some of it. Sometimes the light from the moon is so bright, that you don’t need your headlights on to drive (but seriously, keep them on), and sometimes it casts a strange light that seems as though things are appearing twisted and distorted.

That’s often the way we can view the aspects of ourselves that water rules. Likewise, water itself twists and distorts things when you view them from above. For example, you can put your finger in water and it will look as though it has bent when it actually hasn’t.

Creativity, which is what we will mostly be focusing on, is the same way. We catch it from the corner of our eye and try to harness it and twist it to our wills so we can produce something. The moon, with its many phases, can influence our creative process and productivity.

This week is working on how to use it.

The Moon & Writing.

We will all have our natural rhythms. However, it’s likely that these spiralic rhythms fall in line with that of the moon or of the seasons, in some way, the same way that menstruating womxn’s bodies fall into a 28-day cycle. The moon, too, has a 28-days cycle, which is why it’s often associated with womxn.

It is said that it has passive energy. While writing can be a stressful act, it’s also somewhat of a passive act, as creativity often is. So we view the phases of the moon, we have to think of what is growing, and what is fading.

As the moon goes from new to full, the energy of the moon is increasing. This means increasing creativity, energy, pull, etc.. Conversely, when the moon is waning and going from full to moon, that energy is dispersing.

Thus, when we’re writing by the moon, we can think of it in terms of how an idea or project grows.

During the first part of the moon cycle, when going from new to full, something is growing. Thus, this is an excellent time to:

  • Develop a story idea through planning
  • Begin writing a story
  • Begin marketing/gaining a social media following

As the moon fades from full moon to new moon, it’s a great time to:

  • Rest
  • Revisit your outline
  • Go back over what you’ve already written
  • Edit

As the creative energy is drawn out of you by the growing of the moon, you can harness that energy and apply it to your story. As the energy fades, it’s good to switch gears to a more analytical aspect, or into full on rest before you start the cycle over again.

For those of you who are fast writers, this is a great way to write and edit, allowing yourself the first two weeks of the cycle to get out your draft of your book, and the second two weeks to edit, and repeat.

The Rest of October

The 1st and 31st of October are full moons. For the first full moon, I am releasing this post. Each week will be a different moon phase that I’ll write on:

  • October 1st – full moon
  • October 8th – last quarter moon
  • October 17th – new moon
  • October 24th – first quarter moon
  • October 31st – full moon

Waning Gibbous Moon

After the full moon, the moon is known as waning gibbous. This is the section of time leading to the last quarter of the moon cycle. Contrary to popular belief, the full moon is actually the middle of the cycle, and thus we are headed toward a new beginning.

Since we’re starting this toward the end, here are some things  you can do to get yourself ready for your beginning on the 17th:

1.
Make a list of habits that are holding your writing back

These could be procrastination, self-doubts, saying yes to everything but your writing, etc. Spend some time making a plan to get rid of these habits. How can you change your attitude toward your writing? How can you make sure it comes first?

This isn’t just limited to writing habits. It could be how you handle constructive criticism. It could be how you view certain genres or publishing ventures.

Take the time and really look into any ways of thinking, attitudes, or habits, and see what you can do to alter them toward something more productive.

2.
Kill Your Darlings

Between the full moon and the new moon is an excellent time to revise what you’ve written. You can use this time to shed any parts of your book that are unneeded. Be completely ruthless with this.

Remember, if you don’t want to get rid of your characters/purple prose/superb scene that unfortunately doesn’t contribute anything to the story/etc. entirely, you can always make a separate document and copy and paste them there. You never know when they might come in handy for something else.

3.
Play

Spend some time writing some flash fiction or poems around your story. Have fun with it. This will help you get in touch with your story and your characters in a different way, and it can also be a great way to gather marketing fodder. You can send this out to your mailing list, your Patreon supporters, or put it up on your website.

Wither way, this is a time to acknowledge that you’ve done the work, and to enjoy it. What better way of enjoying it than writing your own fan fic for your world?

4.
Express Gratitude

I know, this one sounds a little weird, but hear me out.

When you write, there are plenty of things to be grateful for. And when you’re grateful, it helps you to appreciate your writing even more. For example, if you’re grateful for the time you have to write, then you’ll honor that time and be more likely to stick to it.

Here’s what my gratitude list looks like:

  • I’m grateful I have a mode of creative expression
  • I’m grateful I can support myself through writing
  • I’m grateful for the understanding that looking through my characters’ eyes bring me
  • I’m grateful I have time to write every day
  • I’m grateful my partner supports my creative pursuits
  • ect.

What are you grateful for regarding your creative practice?

These are just a few ways you can use this time of the cycle in your writing practice. I challenge you to spend a month working with the moon phases to see how it affects your work and let me know how it goes at the end of October.

Homework

There are two parts to this week’s homework. The first part is to journal on the following questions. Spend some time, giving yourself at least five minutes for each question. This allows you to really explore yourself and your thoughts on each prompt.

  1. What is your relationship to water?
  2. How do you respond to your own emotions?
  3. How do you respond to other people’s emotions?
  4. What habits are holding your writing back?
  5. What attitudes might be holding you back?

The second part of your homework is to spend some time creating a gratitude list. This is good to do, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with your writing. It can help you see the beauty already existing in your life and inspire you to create more.

Once you have your gratitude list, ask yourself what your ideal writing life would be like, and write it out, looking at a day in the life of Author You, writing it out from the time your successful writer self wakes up until you go to bed.

Before going to bed, your future you writes out their gratitude list. What’s on it? Write the list as if from your future you’s perspective.

Journal on the experience of this exercise, paying attention on what you learned about yourself as a writer, and what it means to be successful as a writer.

I’ll catch up with you next week when we move on to the last and third quarter moon.

Happy writing!

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Free NaNoWriMo Prep Course!

Not only is it Autumn—who did that, by the way?—but it’s also nearly November. I know, I know, we still have October to go, but October is just a blip in the radar when you consider what comes afterward:

NaNoWriMo

I know, a lot of writers write about now start to freak out. But that’s OK. Because I actually have a solution for you.

First, for those of you who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about…

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, put on every year. It says National, but at this point, people from all over the world are participating in it.

Every November, writers shut themselves off from the world so they can pump out at least 50,000 words in 30 days, the generally accepted minimum length of a novel.

Fun fact: 50,000 words in 30 days is 1667 words a day.

But don’t panic—this is why I’m here.

NaNoWriMo Prep Course

If you sign up for my newsletter, right there that bar up at the top, then you will Get full access to my FREE Email NaNoWriMo Prep Course.

What does that mean? It means that each Monday, starting on September 28, you’ll get an email in your inbox (because, where else to emails go?) with tips and methods to prepare yourself for National Novel Writing Month. This is 5 whole weeks of lessons to start to train you so you can be ready to kick off NaNoWriMo.

The Lessons:

  • September 28: Output
    Many writers struggle when it comes to knowing how much and how fast to write. When I first started NaNo about 11 or 12 years ago, I thought I needed to write as much as possible every day. You could do that, or you could follow my tricks outlined on the 28th.
  • October 5: Character Development
    Even if you’re a Pantser, knowing your characters ahead of time can help you out. This doesn’t mean you need to know every bit about them, but just start to mull over some characters during this time, ready to throw into your story if you find yourself flailing (but you won’t flail: you’ve got this!)
  • October 12: Plot Prep
    I know, so many of you are Pantsers—and that’s totally cool. The only time I fly blind is when I go into NaNo. However, I’ve found that there are ways to get to know your world or your plot without actually planning your plot. And I’ll share those methods with you in week 3.
  • October 19: Writing Blocks
    We all have them at some point or another. This week is about talking what blocks us and how to work through them, and how to inspire us when we feel stuck.
  • October 26: Mindset
    This is one of the most important things for anyone going into writing, or anything they care about. Having the right mind set is going to be the thing that takes us to the finish line of any project or goal. This final week of the NaNoWriMo Prep Course is going give you some time to keep yourself in the right frame of mind.

Again, all you have to do is sign up using the box above, the box below, or if you want to go the fancy way, you can head on over to this link here.

Make sure you’re prepared to write your novel in 30 days at the start of November.

Remember, there are no retroactive lessons. That means that if you miss the first and second lesson because you signed up too late, you’ll get lessons 3, 4, and 5, but not lesson 1 and 2.

To make sure you get the whole course, sign up before September 28, 2020.!

I look forward to being in your inbox!

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Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!

Where Writing Starts

“Novels begin, not on the page, but in meditation and day-dreaming—in thinking, not in writing.”

~ Joyce Carol Oates

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about how we are all writers, even when we think we’re not. Even when we don’t have the desire to write, we are constantly writing our destiny and our lives with every text we send, every plan we make, and every mark we leave on the world.

This is our unconscious writing.

Writing without an Idea

For those who are pantsers, or who mingle in the pantsing world, we hope that our unconscious mind will begin to flow when we sit down to write. We hope to bring our unconscious writing into the conscious mind so we can construct vast worlds, beautiful language, and important truths.

I once played that game with NaNoWriMo one year—It was the worst NaNo start I had ever had. My boyfriend at the time and I broke up, and I found out my grandmother was dying, and I drove 4 hours with dodgy SatNav to be there (at this point, I had only just moved back to the UK, where my mom’s half of the family lives), and then I found myself stranded in Warwick for a few days. Oh yeah, and then the U.S. presidential election results came in. It was a rough week, to say the least, and I struggled to get the words out. I closed my eyes and began typing, hoping it made sense.

Image from VisitWarwick.co.uk

Being in Warwick was surreal. I had never been in a place that still had buildings from the 15th century before. And its oddness kept my mind off everything, and my mind revolved around the story I was working on, set in a futuristic city modeled after Warwick. I took notes, I went back to my hotel and stared at the ceiling, I explored the history—anything to forget the hurt.

While I had no idea where my story was going, I meditated on it. I thought about it. I constructed my characters. I developed motivations. I was writing without even writing. I thought about writing, even though the words weren’t necessarily flowing onto the page.

Before we even put our fingertips to the keyboard, we have to have an idea of what we were going to say. The idea formulates before we even formulate the first sentence.

Writing with Air

When I talk about writing through the elements in a blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the element of air. The element of air is the conception of an idea. We take this idea, we find intrigue with it, and we mull it over in our minds. We watched leaves in the trees below, we watch people walking down the streets, we watch a spider weave its web, while we contemplate, stretch and mold our idea.

And when we feel like we have a good grasp of this idea then we find our way to communicate it, whether that’s telling someone else about our idea, making notes about the idea, or even beginning our story. This is all pure air energy.

When we carve out the space to think about our idea, we are practicing a form of meditation. This is a form of mindfulness, in which we focus on one thing, and that one thing is our idea.

As writers, we are always writing. We are always working on our craft, whether we’re aware of it or not. To make writing a conscious part of our lives, we need to bring that subconscious writing into the forefront and actively consider our writing.

We need to write all the time. We need to invoke air.

How do you use air energy?

Your Homework

Your homework is to keep a notepad with you and try to write down when you catch yourself thinking about writing. Notice how often you do it, and just record it for a week.

After the week, reflect on what you recorded. Do you feel like you should be thinking about writing more? Less? Do you feel that you’re doing alright?

Share your result!

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Running out of Ideas

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while Working.”

Henri Matisse

When we start out writing, and we know that we are writers, we sometimes have the worry that there just aren’t enough ideas out there, or that, you don’t have access to the ideas that are swimming around in the ether.

I hear you. I’ve had that same fear. In fact, every time I’ve started a blog, I’ve had that fear. I’m here to tell you, the more you work on that which you are passionate about, the more inspired you become.

Blogging

I’ve had plenty of blogs—from the early days of Livejournal and OpenDiary (before the term “blog” was around), to personal blogs, to travel blogs, tarot blogs, foraging and sustainability blogs, to spiritual blogs…I could go on. And with every single of one of them, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough to say.

But as soon as I started writing, trying to brainstorm my first ten posts, more ideas would come to me.

When I started my Tarot blog, I had no idea what I wanted to say about the Tarot other than defining the cards—as if there weren’t already a thousand websites out there already doing the same. But as I began to write, I started to gain ideas.  I realized that I was putting so much into my posts that they could be divided up. When I divided them up, I found I had enough to say to further divide the posts up, and so on.

It got to the point where I was writing three posts a day—I don’t recommend that, by the way. It’s exhausting. But the point is, when I started to do the work, I gathered more and more ideas.

While my Tarot blog is somewhat neglected these days, I still have much more to say. So much so that I’ve been in the process of creating a tarot podcast with a friend of mine.

Like me, she has struggled to level with the idea that we would have enough to talk about, as neither of us wanted to go into the definitions of the cards, specifically. So, we committed to eight episodes. We decided we would make eight episodes, and if we still had ideas after that, then we would go for another eight, and so on.

As it stands, each season is about eight episodes, or will be, once they’re released, and we have enough content planned for at least three seasons. And the ideas keep on flowing.

Creative Flow

I know, that’s all well and good if you have a topic you know about, but what about for creative writing?

I have a little personal story for that, as well.

Years ago, my story was rejected from an online competition because I didn’t have an author website or any followers on my social media. At the time, the only social media I used was Facebook, and that was just to keep in touch with people. I didn’t know I needed them.

I was told by the editors that they liked my story, but a website and social media presence was essential to be published on their website.

I was annoyed to say the least, but I promised myself that would not be the reason why I didn’t get published again.

So, I invested in an author website. I had no idea what to put on there. I didn’t have anything published yet other than an article in the local newspaper, once. I didn’t want to write about writing because I worried that I wouldn’t have enough to say and the website was about showcasing my creative writing, not my non-fiction.

In the end, I decided that I would write book reviews to get readers to my website and publish flash fiction pieces. I promised myself one of each, every week.

As soon as I announced this commitment on my website, the fear took hold of me. I had no idea what I was going to write about, or even if I could write flash fiction. I’d never done it before. I’ve always been a long-form writer.

I used my Tarot cards for writing prompts, and somehow generated the first few stories. Once I got used to producing a 1200-word story every week, the ideas started to flow. I began to find inspiration everywhere. I watched an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode where Dee loses her cat in the wall, and from there I developed a horror serial that landed me a columnist position at Carpe Nocturne Magazine. I saw a jogger every day on the way out into Snowdonia, and wrote a horror serial called, The Walker.

That summer, I wrote dozens of flash fiction pieces, some that found homes in publications, and some that were drawn out into novels, or novellas. Many were thrown away, or just left up on my website (the website is no longer up, sorry!), or live in a drawer for inspiration later.

Either way, the more I wrote, and forced myself to write, the more ideas I came up with.

When you turn on the faucet, your words will flow. Your energy flows where your intention goes.

Your Homework

Challenge yourself to write one flash fiction piece a week for the next 12 weeks. It doesn’t matter if they’re any good. It doesn’t matter if you’ll show them to anyone, only that you write them.

Depending on who you ask, a flash fiction piece can be as little as 300 words, or as many as 1500 words. I’m the kind of person who laughs at word-count maximums and overshoots, so I tried to keep my flash fiction pieces around 1000 words. But do whatever speaks to you.

Keep an idea notebook with you so you can write down anything that can be used as a flash fiction base. You’ll be surprised how quickly you fill that notebook up.

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Writing Through the Elements

While I’ve already talked a little bit about Tarot in writing, I thought I would look at another esoteric approach to the creative topic: writing through the Elements.

As you may already know, I’m very interested in the tarot. So much so that I have a whole tarot blog, sell professional tarot readings, and incorporate tarot in my writing. This post, however, is not about this. What it is about are the suits in tarot, or, more accurately, their elements.

When I talk about elements, I’m specifically referring to the four western elements: air, fire, water, earth (and if the order of those elements hurt your eyeballs (because it would hurt mine), don’t worry, I have them ordered like this for a reason).

Each of these Elements correspond to a different Tarot suit, and it was actually through the Tarot that I gained the most understanding of the Elements. Since I write using the Tarot, I write using the Elements, and I have some insight that I would like to pass along to you.

Let me give you a little introduction to each of the Four Elements.

Air:
Concept, Communication, Thinking, Education, Law

The element of Air in the Tarot is the Swords, and is likely the most important steppingstone for the writer. Air represents thoughts and communication.

Consider how Air is our outward breath on which our words are carried. Consider how ideas and inspiration are fleeting, as if being carried away or being dissolved by the wind.

When we’re in our plotting and planning mode, when we’re thinking about character development, when we’re editing and revising, that is when Air is at play. Air is the logic that gets us started. It’s the idea that germinates within us, which we then communicate through our writing.

In the Lenormond (which isn’t the tarot, but an oracle deck designed in the 18th century by Madam Lenormond), the card, Birds, represents community and gossip. Birds twitter (Tweet) to one another, letting each other know that they’re there, and thus they can represent people speaking. Likewise, birds also have hollow bone and (most) travel through the air.

Every time you sit down to write, you are bringing forth the element of Air. You are thinking and you are communicating.

However, the thing about Air is that it is all logic and the expression of it. For this reason, it also corresponds to education and the law, as both are meant to be non-biased, but simply facts in front of you. Because air is simply facts in front of you, you need to look to the other elements.

Fire:
Creation (Process), Passion, Drive, Will

Fire, which I personally love, represents activity, creation, and passion. This is essential when you’re writing. That passion is what will bring forth that idea. It’s the drive behind you. It is the burning in your belly that demands action from you lest the fire consume you alive.

It’s what makes us write.

In the Tarot, Fire is represented by the suit of Wands. Wands are that magical tool that zaps magic and makes things happen at will. Fire represents the Will and the action to bring forth that Will.

Consider all the analogies we have with this element:

  • The spark of inspiration
  • Fanning the flame
  • Burning desire
  • Heat of passion

All of these apply to our art.

Without Fire, we have an idea, but we don’t have the energy to pull through that idea. Fire is our inspiration, the thing that gets us excited. It can be the thing that gets you to starting your idea, and is the flame that needs to be fanned in order to get the idea into fruition.

Water:
Creativity, Emotion, Intuition, Subconscious

The element of Water is a big on, in my mind. There are some elements that mingle with Air, depending on who you talk to, but here are my associations: emotion, creativity, intuition, and the subconscious. In the Tarot, Cups represents Water, for they hold liquid, they are the container of that creativity. With a container, we can see how much or how little Water we have.

There is a lot to unpack there.

When we think of Water, it is the lifeforce that it in all of it. We need it to survive. And thus, we need our art. Art is our form of expression, whatever medium we choose—whether it’s dance, painting, sculpting, speaking, writing, singing—it’s how we communicate who we are and how we feel. When our forms of expression are stifled, then we have problems.

Consider the concept of Toxic Masculinity, or the idea of what a man “should” be. One of the biggest tropes of this is that men don’t cry. This erodes a person when they can’t fully express themselves. The emotion is there, the expression is there, and it has to come out. The result can be very unhealthy actions such as self-harm, addiction, or outward verbal or even physical abuse. Anger and bitterness can be the result.

We all have the element of Water in us, literally and metaphorically. We are made up of Water in our cells and tissues, and we need it to survive. If we want to stay healthy, then we need to work with Water.

There is a lot I want to say regarding Water and creativity, but I’ll leave it for another post. For now, consider how you interact with water. Consider the affects of the moon on people—the idea that people “get weird” on a full moon may have to do with it’s pull on Water and the Water within us.

Consider the many variations of Water, how malleable it is, how it can be a gas, a liquid, or a solid. Consider the difference between a puddle and the deepest parts of the ocean. Consider a placid lake, or fifty-foot swells. Consider the corrosive power of a repetitive drop of water, and the carving power of the water that shaped the Grand Canyon.

While you’re in your flow, in your creative element, you mold and shape worlds, people, and situations. You take the idea and passion you have, and you apply creativity and emotion. Water is life, and that is what you bring to your writing when you apply emotion to your idea and passion.

Earth:
Creation, Manifestation, Health, Money, Physical World

Earlier I mentioned that there would be some people who wouldn’t like the arrangement of the list I gave: Air, Fire, Water, Earth. If you’re anything like me, Earth comes first. However, when we’re talking about the creative process, Earth comes last.

The element of Earth represents physical matters. In the Tarot, it represents everything that we need for our physical survival in the everyday (mundane) world: food, health, shelter, money. When it comes to creativity, Earth is the fruit that is born of the combination of the rest of the elements. It is the idea you had in the beginning made manifest in the shared world we all live in. When you are working with Earth, then you have something you can show those around you. It’s your completed manuscript draft, it’s the sketch of your painting, it’s the notation of a song. It’s the product you created.

It’s that simple.

In the Tarot, Earth is represented by the suit of Coins, or Pentacles. The Pentacles are represented by a upright, five-pointed star in a circle. Each point represents a different element while the fifth point represents Spirit, or our individuality. The circle of the Pentacle represents how they’re all connected. This is essential to understanding the Earth element.

When Pentacles are present, they are saying that Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit have all come together to work in the physical world. Only when these things come together can something be created and exist in the shared reality.

Consider getting a Psychology degree, for example. You go to school to learn about Psychology (Air is education), you work diligently through the requirements (Fire is drive), you believe in what you are learning (Water), and you develop your own personal take on what you’re learning (Spirit is individuality). When you get to the point where you are putting all of these things to practice in your career, then you’re bringing those elements into the shared world, which is Earth. However, if any one of these things is left out, you won’t find success in your profession.

Earth marks the end of the cycle. But all ends are just beginnings, as I’ll explain when I talk about how Earth and Air interact.

The Progression of the Elements

There is a natural progression through the elements, in case you hadn’t caught on. I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about how they work together, flowing from one into the other to create the cycle. This is also where I want to talk about balance. With everything, there is a balance that must be achieved in order for it to work. Just like when you start a marathon, you know you need to keep your breathing just right so you don’t make yourself dizzy or deprive yourself of air; you need to keep your pace steady so you conserve your energy for the long-haul; you don’t drink too much water so you don’t cramp or make yourself sick, but you drink enough that you muscles are nourished; and so on. Everything must be in balance.

Air & Fire Infusion

When we have an idea, we need inspiration to get it started. The word Inspiration to me is carried on the breath, but backed by fire. It’s like a hot air balloon—it’s air that carries us up, but it’s fire that gets that air moving and gives us lift-off.

When we think about the nature of Fire, and what it needs, we begin to understand how it can effectively work with Air.

Fire starts as a spark. We blow gently on it (applying Air) to turn it into a flame. With controlled air, we feed the flame until it’s burning steadily. If we apply the right amount of air, we can turn it into a raging torrent. If we apply too much too soon, we extinguish the flame.

Fire consumes Air. Have you ever been inspired but had no idea what to do with that inspiration? You know you want to write, or paint, or create, but you’re fresh out of ideas? That creativity dwindles into nothingness, because it has no ideas to feed on.

This is why it is so important to keep an idea journal. When you have any idea at all, whether you like it or you don’t, write it down. Make sure that when those creative surges come, you have plenty of Air to feed that Fire.

This is how you create a balance between Air and Fire.

Fire & Water in Harmony

You might have noticed that fire and water both have variations of the word “create” in them. I want to point out the distinction. Fire has to do with creation in the sense of the creative process. It is an active word energy, and specifically talks about the process of bringing something to fruition. Water has to do with creativity. It’s like the bead of magic that swirls through you and your work, surprising you as you go.

In the Tarot, Fire and Water are brought together in the 14th Major Arcana, Temperance. She is seen as mixing two things together that seemingly shouldn’t be mixed, yet bringing harmony as a result. She does it with such patience and mindfulness, that it brings something beautiful and harmonious into the world. In the Thoth Tarot, this card isn’t called Temperance. It’s called Art. The two mysterious opposites being brought together are Fire and Water. When you have a spark of creativity, you have Fire and Water. When you have passion you have emotion. When you have drive, you’re working from a place of your intuition and subconscious, both of the latter are Water, which we didn’t go too much into in this post.  

In the natural world, Fire and Water interact in interesting ways. When you apply heat to water, the molecules shake up and the water begins to boil. Apply more heat and you have steam, which is what you want when it comes to your writing (the perfect mix of Air, Water, and Fire). But if you apply too much, then there is no more water because it all evaporates.

If you have too much Water and apply it to the Fire, then you’re dousing the Fire. You lose your passion. It seems backwards, doesn’t it? Too much creativity (Water) hindering creation (Fire).

I once tried to write a 500-word piece of flash fiction where every non-article and non-preposition started with the same letter. My goal was to write 26 of these, one for each letter of the alphabet. I had to get creative with it, so much so that I burnt myself out doing it. I couldn’t complete the project. I didn’t even get through the first piece. My creativity suffocated my creation. Too much Water on the Fire killed it.

You want to remember to use your Fire to keep your Water at a nice simmer, and remember to take the time to replenish your Water as you go along so it doesn’t dry up. And you want to make sure you aren’t suffocating your flames with too much creativity.

Water & Earth Shaping

Water is the what shapes the physical. Likewise, the physical shapes water. What happens in the real world changes how we feel about things and how we view the world. For example, if you and tend to your garden, it will grow and produce fruit. If you love it too much, you might not even want to make a cut of it, leaving trees unpruned, beds unthinned, or even fruit unpicked, because you simply want it to be.

Our love for something can nurture growth, just like it can erode it. This is especially true when it comes to our creativity.

When we have our creation, or a draft of it (Earth), we need to nurture (Water) it into maturation. This is looking at it and understanding that some parts will have to be trimmed back, that you might have to redirect the growth, or even remove parts altogether. This is the balance. It is knowing when to “kill your darlings.”

However, when we have too much love for what we’ve created, we might not be able to see where it is that needs to be altered.

In the Tarot, I always see the Queen of Cups as the ultimate card to represent Water. She is seen as caring and nurturing, in touch with her emotions, and a very mothering figure. The reversal of her is “smother love.” Pouring too much Water on a garden will drown it.

Water is powerful and can be eroding. When we put too much heart into something, then it can erode the outcome. Consider how water carved the Grand Canyon.

Likewise, the drive to manifest a draft of a finished product might tempt you to bypass your creativity and emotions. You might just want to get the thing done. Thus, Earth can serve as a block. You might have a finished product, but it will fall flat.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

Robert Frost

When Earth and Water collide, they have the opportunity to work in harmony with one another. Allow Earth to guide your Water, and allow the presence of Water in your Earth.

Earth & Air Seaming

As I mentioned before, Earth marks the end of the cycle. But it doesn’t mean that you’re done. I also mentioned, when I talked about Air, that it represents the first idea and outlining (both of which are the beginning of the writing process) and editing. Air is also the beginning and the end.

What does this mean?

When you have a tangible product in your hands, it might just be a first draft. Then, you start the process over again, this time with editing in mind, until you have your next draft, and so on until you have your physical product.

Earth can sometimes be immovable. Consider a wall that breaks the wind. This can sometimes be the barrier we face when we’ve finished a draft and aren’t willing to begin the editing process. I know plenty of people who get stuck in editing because they just don’t want to do it.

Adjusting your mindset so that you see your draft as something that’s malleable and workable will help make the shift from Earth back to Air. Consider saplings that bow in the wind. They’re Earth, and they’re in their early stages of life. With each pass of the year, they get stronger, and bow less in the wind because they’re stronger and more solid. Your first draft should allow easy editing—by that, I mean there should be ample material to edit. But with each pass of the creative cycle, your MS gets more and more solid, until there are only leaves reacting to the wind, just tweaks here and there that aren’t necessary to make.

The key is knowing when to stop editing.

I had a teacher who once told us that there was no such thing as a final draft. We, as writers and artists, will always find something we want to change. The final harmony between Air and Earth is having the wisdom to know when to stop the cycle on a particular piece, to know when it is completed.

Your Homework

The instructions for this homework assignment are basic, though be prepared, the work itself is not.

  1. What is an idea for a piece that you’ve had but haven’t acted on? If you don’t have one, spend some time coming up with an idea.
  2. Work through the elements to see how you can use them to move you through your first draft.

Here is a recap of the elemental associations for you:

  • Air – ideas, concepts, education, outlining, editing, communication
  • Fire – passion, creation, drive
  • Water – emotion, creativity, intuition, subconscious
  • Earth – manifesting, completion, health, solidifying, that which is physical
  • Bonus: Spirit – you
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September Natural Writer Journaling Prompts

After an impossibly long 9 months of 2020, September is finally here. And with September comes #NaturalWriterJournaling prompts.

As promised in my introduction post, I have 30 single-word journaling prompts for you, one for each day of the month. I want to challenge you each day to crack into a word, and look at it from every perspective. As a result, I have the following questions/prompts to spark your thinking with each of the daily words:

  1. Define the word in your own terms
  2. Generate as many synonyms as possible surrounding this word.
    Feel free to expand your definition based on the words you generate.
  3. How is this word used culturally vs. socially?
    For example, the word “man” literally means an individual identifying as a grown male. However, culturally we use the term “man” to mean “mankind/evolved humans.” Socially we might mean it be “the man” as in those in control of the system, or “man” as a casual generic term of direction at the start of a sentence, usually to make a point of notation. For example, “Man, the band last night was amazing!” Similarly used as “dude,” “oh boy,” “Oh my god,” etc.
  4. What are the historical uses of the word?
    There are so many examples of words changing definition over time—most recently, the word “literally” which now is also known to mean “figuratively” (ironically).
  5. How do you feel about this word/how does this word influence you?
    That is, what emotions or memories does this word bring up for you?
  6. How can it be used spiritually and/or metaphorically?
    I say “spiritually” to mean that which applies to the non-physical and outside general daily conceptual use.
  7. What are the creative different ways this word can be used?
  8. If you feel inspired, use this word as a creative writing prompt.

Have fun with these words and get creative! We are wordsmiths! Words and their definitions are what we use to build worlds, break hearts, and restore harmony.

Here are the 30 words of September:

1. Light bulb11. Power21. Diamond
2. Peanut12. Branch22. Dark
3. Integrity13. Coin23. Prolific
4. Word14. Elastic24. Green
5. Spark15. Survival25. Azure
6. Freedom16. Red26. Feel
7. Time17. Justice27. Loyal
8. Unit18. Rising28. Art
9. Heart19. Dependent29. Gate-Keeper
10. Ice20. Grow30. Belonging

While you go through these words, don’t be afraid to break out a dictionary (or several! Look at the difference between British dictionaries and American dictionaries), rhyming dictionaries, and thesauruses (I do strongly recommend WordHippo, which can be fun to play around with). Sometimes finding words that are similar to other words can help you to create a deeper understanding of it.

The key take-away? Have fun! Play with these words, and also, see what it unlocks within you.

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram: @NaturalWriterCoaching for daily posts with the 1-words prompts and reminders of the journaling questions.

Happy writing!

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Are you thinking about working with me, but just aren’t entirely sure? Fill out the form, schedule a call, let’s talk. This is a no-pressure, non-sales-pitch call, where we talk about you and your writing, and whether or not you want to work with me. Let’s chat!