Today is a big day. Today is the first episode of the Natural Writer Podcast, and the topic is prompting you to answer the question, “Where are you as a writer?”
There is a lot I go into, and while this blog post isn’t exactly the transcript of episode, it’s the outline in blog form.
Where Are You as A Writer? – Natural Writer Podcast
Why Do We Need to Know Where We Are?
Knowing where you are as a writer means that you know the starting point from which you’re jumping off.
You might be just starting your writing journey, or maybe you’re a prolific short story writer, yet just beginning your first novel. Or perhaps you’re a self-published novelist, well into your 11th book, and needing some extra umph to keep you going.
We are all at different points in our writing. And yet, we’re all at the same place: the first day.
I know, this is going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. We are all at the first day of the rest of our writing journey.
The good, and obnoxious news is that tomorrow is also our first day.
So where are we starting from today? Where will we be starting from tomorrow? And the next day? And next week? Next month?
You get where I’m going with this.
Knowing where you are right now can help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, what’s holding you back, and what’s supporting you.Tweet
I suggest you have yourself a pen an paper for this blog post or this podcast, because I’m going to be asking you some questions to get you going.
Throughout this podcast, I’ll be referring to the Tarot. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll also know that I’m a big fan of using the Tarot in writing.
For this particular episode and post, I’m considering the lens of the first position of the Celtic Cross: The heart of the matter, or where you are as a writer.
In a Celtic Cross reading, this position represents the sum of all the energies working around you and within you to put you in the current position you’re in right now, or the real issue that is prompting the reading at all.
For many writers, it’s writers block. But that’s not just what the main issue is. It’s what’s masking the issue. So let’s take a second a look at writer’s block.
Writer’s block is rarely simply not knowing what to write. More often than not, it’s the result of something deeper getting in the way, whether it’s a belief, a fear, or the excuses we tell ourselves (though those are also the result of beliefs and/or fears).
If we take a little bit of a bird walk, I’ll talk a little bit about the ego.
The ego, at least, how I’m defining the ego, is the self, or rather, the protector of the self. It is like the shell of the nut that is what defines us.
The aim of the ego is to protect the self. However, what it means to protect something is to keep it just as it is. Which leads to no growth.
In order to grow, we need to initiate a change. Where there is change, there is the unknown. Where there is the unknown, there is potentially danger to the self, which is what the ego wants to protect the self from. As a result, we have fear.
This is very simplified. I know that. Just keep bird walking with me.
This fear is what is causing our writer’s block, when it does manage to crop up. It’s the voice in the bac of our heads questioning whether our writing will be well received, if we as writers will be well received, or if there’s any point in writing at all. These are just a few fears that I commonly talk to writers about. There are plenty more out there.
As a result, we find excuses for why we can’t write, why we shouldn’t write, and so on. This is why we would rather deep clean the bathroom which suddenly urgently needs doing when we sit down at the computer to get some work done. We may not have our writing done, but damnit, our bathrooms are spotless!
Using the tarot, and looking ourselves as writers through the lens of the tarot or even through this position in the Celtic Cross, can help us identify what might be holding us back in our writing practice. Likewise, it can show us what’s supporting us.
The First Step:
Journal It out
The first thing I’m going to ask you to do is journal out where you are as a writer. What does it mean for you to be a writer? What does your writing practice look like? What are you doing right now to embody the title of writer? What are your goals? Your fears? Who’s your biggest cheerleader, and influence? Who intimidates you?
Write everything you can about where you are right now.
Don’t think about it too much.
The often famed method of Morning Pages, put forth by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, is about journaling without boundaries. Let your thoughts flow onto the page for at least three whole A4 pages, front and back, without pausing to wonder what to write.
When you find yourself running out of what to write, write “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write…” until your pen begins to know what to write.
Adopt this mentality while you do this exercise. Don’t think. Just journal.
After You’ve Scrawled It All…
After you’ve spent some time journaling, get a highlighter and read through what you’ve written. Pay attention to what stands out to you and mark it. Make notes, highlight, underline, do what you have to do, but mark what you’ve written that stands out as important to you.
Pull these points aside and journal on them further if you need to. Really dig into these tid-bits of information you’ve gleaned from your journaling. Why do they stick out to you?
Getting Back to Tarot
A tool that Tarot utilizes is the categorizing of different aspects of life via the four suits: Coins/Pentacles, Swords, Wands, and Cups. Each suit is represented by an element: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, respectively.
I promise this will relate to writing and where you are as a writer, just bear with me.
Here’s how the elements represent different aspects of life:
Earth represents the physical realm, all that is tangible. You can think of the things that we need to physically survive and move around in this world, such as food, shelter, physical health, the earth itself, money, etc.
Earth energy is passive energy. It is slow moving, and it digs deep and holds on. Think of terms like “grounding” or “rooting.” These directly relate to Earth aspects.
Air represents our thoughts and how we communicate. It also represents education, the law, justice, and anything to do with logic. It is part of our inspiration, something I’ll delve more into when we move on to Fire.
Air also represents cycles. When we consider the breath, how it moves in and out of us, like a cycle, or the swirling of wind, we can understand how it can represent the phases we move through.
Air is active energy. Our thoughts are quick, how we speak is usually quite quick as well. Thoughts and tongues can be sharp, which is part of the reason why they are represented by the Swords in the Tarot.
This is my favorite element, though it could be because I’m a fire sign, and have a lot of fire in my astrological chart.
Fire represents passion and creation. It is our inspiration, our drive, our Will. It’s what motivates us to get up and go and to take action.
I mentioned that Air is also inspiration. The spark is the instant of Need to Do, of Compulsion to express that key part of the Self. It’s that flicker of excitement. Air is what fans that spark and brings it to a flame. It’s what plans and forms the spark into an action.
Fire, too, is active energy. It is far more instantaneous than Air, and far more demanding than air.
Water is a passive energy, like Earth. Though the concept behind Water is the idea of sinking down. As a result, this means that it corresponds to our emotions, to our subconscious, our intuition, and our spirituality. It’s how we connect in our relationships, whether they be friendly, romantic, familial, or otherwise.
It is creativity.
Considering these elements and areas of your life while going over your journaling can help you divide specific areas you might find are supporting you or restricting you. You might find that there are areas that are smothering your spark, or devouring your Air, for example. These things bleed into your creative practice. Getting to know the different areas of life can help you pinpoint where you are right now.
The Second Step:
Some Guiding Questions
The second step is more of a helpful way to get you to consider the elements in your life. Here are some guiding questions you can further use as journal prompts.
What is your practice?
- How are you keeping yourself accountable?
- How are you planning for your writing goals?
- How are you implementing the steps of your plan?
I want to take a moment to say that it’s okay if you don’t have a plan. You don’t have to have a plan. However, Air is the element of logic, and is great when you start looking at your editing.
However, there are some elements of planning that you’ll need in your writing life. For example, the goals you set for your current WIP, or your writing career. The education you plan to explore when it comes to marketing, to story structure, to publishing also doubly fall under Air, since it’s both education and planning. Knowing copywrite laws are essential when it comes to creating your works (laws fall under Air, as does Justice).
There is a lot here, and the risk of too much Air is over-planning, and smothering your inspiration as a result. Ask yourself where the line is for you regarding too much planning, or needing to plan more.
How Do You Feel About Writing in General?
- Does writing, as a whole inspire you? Intimidate you? Make you feel free? Constricted?
- Consider this and note what you feel in your body. Do you relax? Is there a tightness?
- How do you feel about your writing?
- Same questions – Does it inspire you? Excite you? Free? Constricted?
Fire can often be that act of creation, but creation must come from something. For example, consider the creation of another being. There are things that must happen:
- There must be passion, or desire (both Fire)
- Two elements come together to make that creation happen
So ask yourself what is that passion for you about writing? What is compelling you to write? Or consider writing? Or tell your story?
Examining what smothers that spark is also important, and should be considered.
- What kills stomps out that potential for you?
- What stops a piece from coming to fruition?
Where Does Your Creativity Come From?
- Does it hit you from nowhere?
- Do you cultivate it?
- What relaxes you and puts you in the flow with your art?
- What emotions do you tap into when you write?
- What do you avoid?
There is no doubt that writing is a creative process, and writing is fluid and flowing, just like Water. Hence, the creativity. Water forms itself to what it must be in order to fit in with what is required.
You might have noticed that I’ve mentioned both creativity and creation separately, and I want to take a moment to distinguish between the two.
- Creation is the result of action being taken upon a passion
- Creative, or creativity is the personal flair in which something is created.
- Creation is fire
- Creativity is water
In the tarot, there is a card named Temperance, which is often represented by Fire and Water. Marriam-Webster defines Temperance as “Moderation in action, thought, or feeling.”
In Thoth-Based tarot decks, the Temperance card is called Art instead. I love this. The idea that Fire and Water are coming together to create Art. This is creation and creativity coming together in harmony, the internal flow of Water, balanced with the drive of Fire, to create Art.
How is Your Writing Showing up in Your Physical World?
- By what physical method do you write?
- Type writer?
- By hand?
- Are you making money from your writing?
- How are you nourishing your brain?
I want to take a second to explain the last question.
The things that we put in our body affects our minds. Everyone is different, therefore different minds need different things. I also want to take a second to honor that this can be a privileged thing to consider as well.
I am not going on a kick about what you should or shouldn’t consume. What I am asking is for you to pay attention to how certain things affect how you think and act.
For example: during lockdown last year, I, like so many, began baking. I started to find that when I was eating the delicious things I baked, I was getting cranky. Same with when I had sugar in my coffee. So I stopped with the sugar-rich treats and drastically cut back on the sugar in my coffee.
Recently, since I get up at 5 in the morning, I have noticed that I have some pretty gnarly caffeine crashes around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I realized it was because I was drinking bucket loads of coffee and then hitting my wall. So I stopped and replaced coffee with chicory root for a while, and then with plain old water.
I noticed how what I was consuming was affecting my mind and productivity, and I made the changes I felt I had the capacity and capability to make.
Where Are You As A Writer?
Consider everything you’ve journaled about here. What have you discovered? Are you pleased with it? Do you see areas you want to change?
If you’re open to sharing, post in the comments below! I’ll be you’ll find you’re not alone.
Natural Writer Podcast
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Happy Listening and Happy Writing!
Celtic Cross Spread for Writers Workbook
In this podcast, I mention the Celtic Cross Workbook.
At the time of recording, I didn’t know when it would be released. However! I do now!
It is a completely free, 75+ pages of tarot and journal prompts using the Celtic Cross to help you delve into where you are as a writer, what is supporting you, and what is holding you back from becoming what you want to be.
Check it out for Free by completing the form below!