Natural Writer Podcast

Alright, friends. I’ve done it. I’ve done the thing.

This has been in the works for a long time, and now I’m doing it.

I have an imperfect podcast to launch on August 2.

That’s right. On Lammas, I am launching the Natural Writer Podcast.

Full transparency: I’m terrified. This is a really scary thing for me to be doing! I actually have recorded and re-recorded my intro episode like ten times. Finally, I decided I would just publish it.

And you know what, I STILL found an editing error!

But that is to be expected. I’m learning new editing software (I’m used to editing sound on video editing software that I no longer have access to, nor am I willing to throw down $800 to gain access to), and to top it all off, I was doing it on my phone. Editing anything on your phone can be tricky, in case you haven’t discovered that.

However, my trailer episode is about an imperfect start, and thus, I think that my imperfect trailer outlines that.

If you want to get ready for the real deal, the full-on podcast, I’ll be launching on a Tuesday, and will keep up the every-Tuesday pattern.

I’m using Anchor as my host, which has gained me access to the following podcast platforms:

I am still currently waiting for Apple to get back to me. I will update this when I find out more.

I am very excited for this, and I hope you are too. Be sure to check out my imperfect trailer and subscribe for more imperfect, informative, and hopefully entertaining episodes of the Natural Writer Podcasts.


Don’t forget, we are still open for submissions for the Nightmares When I’m Cold writing competition/anthology.

Read about submissions guidelines here, or email NightmaresWhenImCold@gmail.com with any questions you might have!

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!

“Will My Story Get Published?”

One of the questions I see a lot is writers wondering whether or not their book will get published.

I am in a lot of online writing groups where writers get to vent their quandaries, celebrate their successes, puzzle out plot points, and share inspiration. As I watch these forums, I find there are trends in questions from time to time. And the one that is occurring the most, in various forms, is “will my story be published?”

I am here to address that.

The simple yet complex answer is down to ID: It Depends.

The unfortunate thing is that writing a book and publishing a book are two different things. This is the reason why I harp on so much about knowing your “why,” as in, knowing why it is you want to write a book. When you know this, then you can discover your goal for the book, which determines how you write it, and what you write about.

Reasons to Write a Book

There are many reasons people write a book, and that can range from simply wondering if they can get from beginning to end, all the way to wanting to be an influential literary figure who is discussed in English classes through future generations.

Here are just a few—a few—reasons people write books.

  1. To see if they can
  2. To practice writing their next book
  3. Because they have a story in them they just have to get out
  4. Because it can potentially make money
  5. It will advertise their business
  6. It will make the writer more visible for their other endeavors
  7. The writer wants to be the next [Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Meyer, Anne Rice, Judy Blume, Alice Hoffman, etc.], and reach the level of fame that means everyone knows who they are and there are shows and movies made from their books
  8. The writer wants to be the next [Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, Alan Moore, Charlotte Bronte, Oscar Wilde, etc.] and be influential literary deities studied in universities over the next century—as a bare minimum.
  9. The writer just wants to create something for their family and close friends to enjoy.

All of these mean different avenues and approaches to writing as well as different publishing goals.

If your goal is to make a living first and foremost, then knowing the market is what you need to do and write to that. What that means is keeping your finger to the pulse and either writing so quickly that you can produce and publish enough books that fit in with current trends that people instantly pick them up, or being able to predict the way trends are going and write to that and get ahead of the game. This is just one example of how your “why” can influence what and how you write.

Different Publishing Avenues

To directly address the questions of will a book be published, a writer needs to look at the different publishing avenues that a writer can pursue that fit in with their why.

Here are a few different ways an author can publish:

  1. Traditional Publishing. This means using a publishing house that is already established as a publishing house and does not expect money from you if they accept your novel. Traditional publishing may or may not require an agent for submission, will require you to adhere to their guidelines, and are looking at your book as a marketable product rather than as a piece in and of itself. This is why many writers, when they’re rejected from one publishing house, may get compliments from the publisher along the lines of “This is a great book, but it isn’t what we’re looking for right now.” They are essentially looking at what is trending and selling in the market, and calculating the likelihood that your book will be sold based on that market. If accepted, your manuscript will be invested in by the publishing house, from editors to cover design to marketing.
  2. Self-Publishing. The appeal of self-publishing for many authors can range from the lack of gatekeeping found in traditional publishing, to more control over your finished book, to a difference in royalties. If you are writing books to publish to make a living, self-publishing might be the choice for you, since you get around 75% of royalties when you say publish through Amazon, vs. 5-10% when you publish through a traditional publisher. Likewise, you control how fast or slow your content is published. If you want a book released every two weeks, you can make it happen. The downfall of this method of publishing is that it is a lot of a work. You are your own publishing house, essentially, which means you are the one paying for cover design (and trust me, you want to hire someone for that unless you have a graphic design background), editing, and marketing. The upfront cost can be intense, though there are plenty of writing groups out there whose main objectives are to help writers self-publish.
  3. Vanity Publishing. This form of publishing gets a lot of flack, though unnecessarily, in my opinion. This is a form of publishing that works for some people, but not for all. It is somewhat of a hybrid of traditional and self-publishing. Vanity publishers will extend the invitation for a writer to submit their work to them, and they will read it. I haven’t heard of anyone being rejected from these publishers, though it might happen. they then will offer the writer a publishing package, in which they do all the work of finding the right cover, the right editor, and put forward the marketing, though the writer is expected to cover those costs. At the low range, it can cost a grand to several grand, depending on the package the writer purchases, as well as the publisher. The benefit of this is that the publisher will have talented staff working on the writer’s book, and it takes away from the work the writer would have to do if they were self-publishing. It also removes the gate-keeping element while still producing a professional-looking end-product. The downfall is that there can be a stigma that surrounds publishing this way, usually found among other writers.
  4. Hybrid Publishing. Hybrid publishing is often used synonymously with vanity publishing, though there are differences, though they are slight.I won’t lie, this isn’t something I’m terribly confident in. However, according to Reedsy, “the ideal hybrid publisher will be selective when it comes to the authors they work with, and will truly want to shape the market the books take on.” I highly recommend reading the rest of this post for more information: Hybrid Publishers: What Are They and Should You TRUST Them?

“Will My Book Be Published?”

It depends. It depends on what you want for your book and the method of publishing you go for. Furthermore, it depends on the publishers you submit to, if traditional publishing is your goal.

It gets even more complicated: it depends on how you present your submission.

Earlier I mentioned gatekeeping. What this means is that those who are in a position of power to accept or decline a submission are essentially the gatekeepers of literature for their publishing house, and thus to the public. They decide what is quality enough or marketable enough that it can be invested in. There are many problems with this, including those that bleed into social issues such as a lack of diversity in publishing and literature (specifically looking at BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled voices in the literary world).

While the publishing house might be looking for something specific and your book might meet those qualities, it could depend on who it is that receives your piece and their own personal decision as to whether it is worth investing in. Publishing houses tend to be, or want to be, well-oiled machines, but at the end of the day, dealing with literature is dealing with art, and art is a human aspect. Thus, the human element must be considered, which differs from one human to the next.

Likewise, how you submit your piece can mean the difference between a published piece or not. Your story might be the next great [British, American, Canadian, European, etc.] novel, but if you have no idea how to write a cover letter and sell not only your novel, but yourself on a single side of a sheet of paper, it might not even get read by the publishing house. This is where having an agent can be helpful, though you still need to be able to sell your book to your agent beforehand.

Speaking of formatting, another important thing to consider is having your book as edited and polished as possible before you submit for publication. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: this includes self-publishing. Hiring an editor for this task is essential. Not asking your family member to do it, but hiring a non-biased, professional editor. There are readers and publisher who won’t get passed typos and organizational mistakes of a manuscript.

Have I made this seem impossible yet? I’m sorry. It’s not. It is absolutely possible to get published.

What You Can Do

This isn’t a dire impossibility. Writers are getting published every day, or their choosing to self-publish. And there are ways you can hone success for your hard work. Here are a few tips.

Get Professional:

If you are writing a book to be published to the wider world, regardless of what method of publication you choose, it is essential that once your piece is written, you treat it like a professional business product. Get yourself in the mindset that this is what will represent you, and you are going onto Shark Tank, or whatever big-league television program where you only deal with CEO professionals who only see [dollar, pound, euro, etc.] signs.

I know, this might not be the advice you want to hear. After all, writing is an art. You are an artist. I hear you, I understand, and I’m there with you. But after your art piece is created? You’re a businessperson, and the hard-to-swallow Truth pill is that once your art is created, it is a product.

So what does this mean? This means that you need to look at what your publishers want and figure out how to market your book to them.

No matter where you’re at in your writing stage, there are a few things you can start doing now:

  1. Make note of the books that are similar in tone/genre/message/style to yours, and who is publishing them, and when.
  2. Make a list of your ideal publishing companies you’d like to work with
  3. Begin looking at what they are looking for in books, and whether they require agents. Likewise, look at when they are open for submissions. An excellent resource for this is The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. This is updated every year with publishers and agents, providing details as to when submissions are accepted as well as what they look for.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3, though instead of looking at publishers, look at representing agents. This isn’t necessary. Not everyone wants an agent, and not all publishers require one.
  5. Start practicing writing cover letters and reach out to those in writing groups for feedback. In many Facebook writing groups there are agents and editors who might be willing to offer critique, as well as other experienced and published writers.

The Most Important Thing

While the submission and publishing process can be daunting, don’t get discouraged. When you submit and get rejected (and you will get rejected at least once by a publisher. All the greats do), do not be discouraged. And if you self-publish a book and it doesn’t sell, do not be discouraged.

When you put yourself out there and don’t get the result you want, it can feel hard to continue on. But the important thing to know is that it’s not necessarily down to your piece, but how your piece was presented or marketed, or even what the general trend in literature is at that moment.

Here are authors who you likely know, and how long it took them to first get published.

  1. Stephen King – Carrie – rejected 30 times
  2. Dr. Seuss – rejected 15 times
  3. Richard Adams – Watership Down – rejected 26 times
  4. James Joyce – Dubliners – rejected 22 times
  5. Frank Herbert – Dune – rejected 23 times
  6. Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen – Chicken Soup for the Soul – rejected 144 times
  7. Herman Melville – Moby Dick – rejected 4 times
  8. George Orwell – Animal Farm – rejected 4 times
  9. Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – rejected 121 times
  10. William Golding – Lord of the Flies – rejected 21 times
  11. Louis L’Amour – 200 rejections before his first piece was published
  12. Kathrin Stockett – The Help – rejected 60 times
  13. Samuel Beckett – Murphy – rejected 40 times
  14. James Patterson – The Thomas Berryman Number – rejected 31 times
  15. John Grisham – A Time to Kill – rejected 28 times
  16. L. M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables – rejected 5 times
  17. Jasper Fforde – The Eyre Affair – rejected 76 times
  18. Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time – rejected 26 times
  19. Joseph Heller – Catch 22 – rejected 22 times (seems fitting, right? 22 and 22…I’ll show myself out)
  20. William Golding – Lord of the Flies – rejected 21 times
  21. Anne Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank – rejected 15 times

Just to name a few. There are countless more famous authors not mentioned above, such as Beatrix Potter who was rejected enough that she took it upon herself to self-publish The Tales of Peter Rabbit. Likewise, Sylvia Plath, E. E. Cummings, Agatha Christie, Ursula K. Le Guin, James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, Richard Bach, and so many more were rejected before they went on to take their places in literary history.

So…Will You get Published?

Maybe.

I’m sorry I can’t give a better answer than that. But at the end of the day, it depends on a lot of factors:

  1. Your goals for your book
  2. The avenue you take
  3. The market
  4. The publisher
  5. The agent
  6. The timing
  7. Your genre
  8. Your presentation of your book
  9. Your persistence

At the end of the day, it depends on the investment you want to put into your book, both monetarily and financially. Writing books to get rich or make a living, unless you’re a ghost writer, is a pretty touch way to go, and the reality of it is that it’s a low likelihood of making a living. It is not impossible, by any means, but it is a lot of work, no matter what avenue to publication you take.

However, if you are writing for the love of writing, and the intrigue of craft and revision and writing, then it’s worth it. You’ll be spending time doing what your soul is calling you to do, and that’s why you do it.

Your Homework

This is a big topic, and there is a lot to think about. In considering publication, you’re making the switch from artist to businessperson. And as a result, it’s going to take a lot of consideration and research. As a result, your homework comes in multiple parts.

Homework Part 1

The first part of your homework involves some introspection. I would recommend a journal for this exercise.

  1. Spend some time thinking about why you are writing
  2. Using your why as a focal point, begin exploring what you want to do with your writing when you’ve finished it. What is your ultimate goal?
  3. Be honest with yourself and ask how much energy you are willing to put into this goal. If it’s everything you’ve got, explore that. Ask yourself what that entails. If it’s not very much, ask what you can do with that “not very much” energy, and see if you’re willing to expand it and how, or what you can accomplish with that energy. There are no wrong answers here. This is an exploration of you, in this moment, in this situation, right now. This can always change if you don’t like your answers.
  4. Begin researching different publishing avenues. If you know for a fact you want to go the traditional publisher route, then look into publishing houses and begin researching what it will take to be represented by them.

Homework Part 2

That’s the first part of your homework. The next part of your homework will be on-going. As you read for the fun and enjoyment of it, begin paying attention to your favorite books and who:

  1. Published them
  2. What agents represent them
  3. Their editors

A lot of this information can be found in the acknowledgements at the beginning or back of the book.

Homework Part 3

This is the least fun part of your homework. I’m sorry, but it will pay off.

Begin practicing writing cover letters. There are actually multiple steps to this (because I love giving you lists).

  1. Refer to your list above of publishers and agents you’d like to work with. Hopefully you have a list of at least five, in any combination. Look at what they require for submissions.
  2. Consider literally anything you’ve written, or are thinking about writing, regardless of what you want to do with it. It could be a poem you wrote in the second grade, a short story you wrote because you were pissed off and ended with you just scribbling across the page, or the novel idea you’ve been kicking around. Anything.
  3. Create a mock submission to each of the publishers/agents on your list for any of your pieces or ideas. Do this multiple times. Get comfortable with it. Get used to collecting and writing and organizing your ideas/stories/poems in the ways they require, and write a cover letter for every one of them.
  4. If you create something you like (regarding your cover letters), then start sharing them in writing groups or with trusted people who know what to look for in this situation. Remember, too, that a cover letter for a piece of literature is not the same as a cover letter for a resume for a job. There are similarities, but they are not the same. So when you pick people to look over it, make sure they are someone who has some experience or authority on the matter.

That last step can be a little scary, but no more scary than handing your work over to a beta reader, in my opinion, and certainly less scary than actually submitting a piece of writing.

Remember, whenever you’re submitting anything, you’re putting a piece of yourself out there. Just like being out in the world as an individual, you or your work might not be to everyone’s tastes. That’s okay. It is not possible to write something that everyone likes.

I was once at a pub talking about my frustration with preparing a piece for submission. I was told by one of the listeners of my plight, in all seriousness, that what I needed to do was write a book that everyone loves.

I just stared at him, wondering if he thought that no writer had considered this approach.

There is no such thing as that unicorn of a book. There are haters of Winnie the Pooh out there (I don’t know who these monsters are, but I know they exist). And so I tell you this, dear writer, with all the love and empathy I can muster that you will not write a book that everyone loves. And just because a publisher or agent can’t get behind your work doesn’t mean that your work isn’t worth being out in the world.

Keep writing. You’ve got this.

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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!

Character Discussion Tarot Spread for Writers

One of the most important things in a book is that who or what is working against the main character as they try to complete their goal or their character arch. This is the antagonist.

post banner: Character Discussion Tarot Spread. Understanding your MC and antagonist by mediating a conversation via Tarot. Natural Writer Coaching

I have a personal love for antagonists. I have a very high expectation for them in that I want them to reflect certain things in the main character, just like certain things in the main character might reflect in the antagonist.

Understanding the protagonist and antagonist can help you create a brilliant piece of work, and in this post, I’ll provide a way of using the Tarot to interview your protagonist and antagonist.

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what your protagonist and antagonist actually are and are not.

What is a Protagonist

To put it simply, the protagonist is the one who carries the story forward. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the protagonist is the main character, though these can sometimes be used synonymously. More often than not, the main character is the protagonist, though sometimes the protagonist can be someone who is just helping the main character.

What is an Antagonist

The antagonist is the one who slows the progression of the story down. This can mean hindering the main character in their goal or character arch, or it can mean it slows the plot down.

The antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad guy. It can be someone who is well-meaning in the story who just gets in the way.

The antagonist also doesn’t have to be a person or sentient being. It can be elemental, such as the weather or having to do with the environment. It can be an illness, or it can be something conceptual such as time or the legal system. Likewise, it even science itself.

Whatever it is that the main character is working against is the antagonist.

Antagonist and Protagonist Discussion

An interesting and creative way to use the Tarot is to have a discussion with your deck. For example, you might ask a question, pull a card, and then respond to that card by asking another question, and so on.

How you can use this method in writing is to create a dialogue with your characters. Most of the writing-related Tarot spreads I make have card placements which answer a specific question about the situation, character, or the plot itself. For example, in my 3-Act Spread, the question for card 1 was essentially “What happens in the first act?”

However, you can create a dialogue between your characters this way by starting off with a conversation topic and allowing yourself to draw as many cards to create a back-and-forth between the characters as you feel is fit. Then, present another question.

The beauty of this spread is that it’s completely adaptable to your needs. I will give you a couple starting questions for you if you want, but really, you can create your own.

The First Thing You Need to Know

There are a couple of things you should know about your story before you continue on with this. However, it’s not essential. This method of reading the cards means that you can adapt it however you want, and you can discover a lot along the way as well.

  1. Is your Protagonist your MC?
    As stated earlier, your main character is not always your protagonist. If you know this before you create this conversation, you might know whether or not have a dialogue between your MC, protagonist and antagonist, or just between two.
  2. Is your antagonist consciously in opposition to your MC?
    This might change the questions you ask to get the conversation going between the two characters.
  3. The goal of at least you MC, though maybe your antagonist too.
    Again, this will be a way for you to steer the conversation.
  4. Is your antagonist sentient?
    In the cases of the antagonist being, say, mental illness or the weather or some other natural force, this spread is absolutely still do-able. You simply personify it. While weather might not have a goal other than to be (though we can get really philosophical here), you can still interview it in the sense of what damage it can do, how it can support your protagonist, or how your MC can use the problems it causes to their advantage. Get creative!

These are just suggestions for things to know ahead of time, though it’s not essential.

The Discussion Spread

First of all, if you haven’t already read them, check out my 3 Ways to Use Tarot as a Writing Tool and 3-Act Story Structure Tarot Spread. These will talk about the best decks to use and give you an introduction on how to go about using the decks.

Before you start into this spread, make sure you have a pen and paper or a recording device for you to record what you find. I personally find, that since this is a dialogue, it works better to record audibly rather than to write it down. However, I do go back and forth with which methods I use.

Also, be sure that you have a good chunk of time for this. While I will encourage you to read the cards quickly so you don’t hang yourself up on it too much, you might find that you go through the whole deck of cards—of which there are 78, so it could be a long discussion.

Finally, go with the flow of the conversation. Really try to imagine the characters having this conversation. What are their tones? Are they thinking about their answers before they speak? Are they responding with heat? As you draw the cards, keep them paced with the conversation. If you feel like a character is going to respond irrationally, flip the card quickly and flip the next card just as quickly, so you’re forced to read it similarly.

To outline this spread, there will be an example at the end of this post to outline how it might be done.

With that in mind, here are the steps for your Antagonist and Protagonist Discussion Tarot Spread.

Step 1
Numbers

The first step is to determine how many characters are at this discussion. This can be a round-table discussion, or a mediated dialogue—or go crazy; don’t mediate it at all. However, you need to know how many participants are in this discussion.

Step 2
Signifiers

Generally, you don’t necessarily need a signifier card in a reading. I find them to be totally optional. However, in this case, I would recommend it simply as a marker for who is which side of the dialogue.

A signifier card is a card that represents a character or person. You can read more about it in my 3 Ways to Use Tarot as a Tarot Tool post here.

Select one for each participant in the discussion, and really make sure that this card is a good visual representation for each participant so you don’t get confused as to who’s saying what. If you have a really good discussion going on, there can be a lot of cards drawn.

Step 3
Get Your Questions Ready

Think of this like a debate or a discussion on the news with a panel of talking heads. You are the facilitator of the questions, and then the participants discuss them. Because of this, you need to have a few questions ready, but also be ready to draw some cards.

Here are some potential questions to start you off:

  • What is the relationship between you two (or three or four, etc.)?
  • Why do you want to hinder MC?
  • MC, what would you say antagonist’s greatest strength is? How does that help or hinder you? (ask the Antagonist the same thing)
  • MC, how do you feel about antagonist? Antagonist, how do you feel about MC?
  • What is your relationship to one another and how do you feel about it?
  • What is the best outcome for each character in this story, from each character’s perspective?

Step 4
Start Asking

Shuffle while you’re looking at the signifier cards, keeping in mind what you know about the characters in the discussion. Decide who should answer your question first and think about the question. When you feel like it’s time to stop shuffling, then draw your card and put it under the appropriate signifier.

Read the card quickly, keeping in mind reading the image on the card rather than thinking of the definition of the card, and record or write down your answers.

Be sure that you do read the cards quickly as you go about the back and forth. This is so you don’t get hung up on a card and you keep the conversation somewhat flowing.

Step 5
Respond

If you have more than two participants in the discussion, draw a card for who you feel would respond first, and continue the discussion from there, reading the response to what’s been said or expressed in each card.

Draw as many cards in whatever order you want to keep the conversation going until you feel enough has been said on the topic.

Step 6
Repeat

From here you can repeat steps 3-5 as many times as you need to get a good feel of the relationship between the MC/protagonist and antagonist.

Your Homework

Your homework is to think about your main character, your protagonist, and your antagonist. While I highly suggest you play around with this dialogue method, I also invite you to do the work leading up to doing this discussion spread.

Knowing about your protag/MC/antag is essential, and the more you know about them before you start either this dialogue or even writing your story, the easier writing will be down the line.

Things You Should Know

For discovery writers, it’s not a big deal whether you know this or not. However, while you might discover your plot as you go, it’s good to have a little bit of background before you get to writing. Likewise, if you’re doing this Discussion Spread, then you can discover these things about your characters as you go.

However, here are some things you might want to know:

  1. Each character’s goal.
    By this, I mean each character participating in the discussion, or who are going to play a major part in the story. Even the sidekick needs a goal, and if you want a really good character, their goal should be something other than helping the MC. It can be the same goal of the MC, but maybe for a different reason, which leads to the next question.
  2. Why is their goal what it is?
  3. How does the character view success?
  4. How does the character view failure?
  5. How does the character handle success?
  6. How does the character handle failure?
  7. What does the character hold dearest?
    This can be a thing in the world, or it can be a concept, or it can be both.

Spend some time with these questions, or you can use these questions in your dialogue spread.

Example of the Discussion Spread

For this example, I’m creating two characters that I know nothing about. I’m going to use this discussion as a discovery method.

The genre I’m using is urban low fantasy.

I am keeping this simple, with my MC and my antagonist.

Light Seer's Tarot Emperor and 4 of Cups

MC: The Emperor – a teacher of magic

Antagonist: 4 of Cups – a board and obnoxious teenager who thinks she knows the world better than her teacher does.

Also, the Tarot deck used for this reading is The Light Seer’s Tarot by Chris-Anne.

Question 1
What do you want?

I’m starting with the MC, and then my antagonist will weigh in on this want from what she knows.

MC: to be happy
Antagonist: but you’re always on guard and fighting.
MC: I’m fight for what’s in my heart that I feel is right. You should learn to do that too.
Antagonist: Yeah, sure whatever.

Note: You might be wondering where I got the “yeah, whatever.” Just to shed some light on how I’m taking away dialogue from the images, in the antagonist’s final comment, I drew the Devil. In the Light Seer’s Tarot, the Devil has a guy in the bottom former bent over and covering his ears. In the context of this conversation, I saw it as a denial of want to see or hear what the MC is having to say. Hence, there is the dismissal of “yeah, whatever.”

I put those cards to the side, not in the deck, and I asked the antagonist the same thing.

Antagonist: I want to just feel like I’m doing something good, and just want to be free-flowing.
MC: you’re moving too fast. You have to slow down and really go deep into yourself to know what you really want.
Antagonist: But I know enough about the world. I can manage.
MC: But you’re holding me  back because you won’t learn the lessons I’m damn trying to teach you.
Antagonist: Fine, then I’ll go.

Question 2
How does antagonist leaving make you feel?

MC: I feel like I need to chase after her.
Antagonist: You don’t, I can manage on my own
MC: I’m going to take the leap anyway, I can’t ignore it.

Question 3
Antagonist, do you know that by running away you’re stopping MC from achieving his goals?

Antagonist: Whatever. I’m doing what I want with my life. He can do what he wants with his.
MC: That’s not how this goes, we’re a team.
Antagonist laughs.

Question 4
MC, why do you have to chase after antagonist?

MC: There’s a lot she doesn’t know, and she will get lost in her own head if she’s not careful.
Antagonist: You’re not giving me enough credit, and that hurts me.
MC: I kind of want you to hurt. But, I want to be happy, and people hurting in the world doesn’t help me be happy.
Antagonist: And that’s what I’m hoping for.

Question 5
Why are you hoping for that?

Antagonist: because I have my own goals and really, I need my teacher. If he’s going off and doing his own thing, then he’s not teaching me.
MC: So I can be happy or I can keep teaching her? I feel like I’m drowning with all this.
Antagonist: choose wisely.
MC: I’m going to be true to me. You can do what you want, but I’m staying true to me and pursuing my happiness/

Question 6
What are you going to do about that, antagonist?

Light Seer's Tarot Emperor and 4 of Cups + Knight of Swords
Antagonist: I’m just going to have to go back and remind him why he needs to chase after me.

Question 7
I’m going to ask you both again – What do you really want?

Antagonist: I just want to feel complete and content. I want the whole family thing, and I want my magic to be completed, and I want to find love. But I can’t do that unless I have magic in my life, and my teacher won’t teach me.
MC: you march to your own drum. You’re damn impossible to teach.
Antagonist: some teach your are. You can’t center yourself enough to deal with a teenager?
MC: I am a magician, and I am skilled in what I do. Some wily kid isn’t going to change that. You can try and rock this boat, but I know who I am, at least.
Antagonist: You taught me that we all have the world inside us. That means that I do have the ability to change that.
MC: I’m ignoring you. I like what I’m doing, and I’m not letting you disrupt that.

What Have I Learned?

I learned why it is that the antagonist is hindering the MC. While I started the conversation with the idea that they might already be at odds, as it went on, I saw that this is their backstory.

I learned that the MC is someone who is passionate about what he does, both in his professional life and in his personal life. He’s always “fighting.” It’s even seen here in the dialogue that he’s fighting to keep the antagonist on track, even going so far as to try and retrieve her. The antagonist then forces him to give up and pursue what makes him happy, and this will be something that comes up later in the story as a form of guilt which might be what he needs to overcome.

The antagonist is selfish. She just wants to do what she does. I can take from this that as the story goes on, she’ll resent him for giving up on her. And while she’ll try to make her magic great, she’ll always fall short because he gave up on her, despite the fact that she pushed him away. Because of this, there is an element of revenge. She will want to get him to give up on the other things he cares about simply to serve an ego boost in knowing that she isn’t worth giving up on, anything can be worth giving up on.

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Breaking Habits That Keep Us from Writing

Steps to Breaking a Habit: A Table of Contents

The Reason | Wanting to Quit | The Deal Breaker |
Finding the Compromise | The Result | Recap/Homework |
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Habits can make or break a writing career.

One of the best things you can do as a writer is create a writing habit. This could be that every day at the same time you sit down and write for x amount of time, or it can mean you get into a weekly system of writing, editing, marketing, repeat. Everyone has something different that works for them.

However, creating habits is just part of it. What is equally important is breaking habits.

There are so many things we do each day that act as distractions or hinder us entirely from working toward our goals.

I want to share my story of a particular habit that I am trying to break: Facebook.

Note: I recognize that not everyone wants to read my experience. you folks out there, I see you, and I’ve got your back. you can skip to the part just for you here.

This is not an anti-Facebook post by any means, I have many, many reasons for wanting to distance myself from it. I wanted to share this because it is a habit (or addiction, as many might label it) that many people can relate to. What’s more, many people might broaden the term to encompass any social media, or might instead swap it out for another form of social media or digital distraction (like streaming shows).

The Reason

I always thought that I had social media under control. After all, I was holding down a job, and doing well at it, and could always make sure my phone was out of sight while on the job. When I was with friends, I only pulled out my phone if the subject matter of discussion warranted it (like showing pictures or swapping info), or if my friend got sucked into their own phone.

Plus, I’ve always needed it because it’s an excellent source of marketing. It’s how I share my writing, my business (and I’ve had many businesses, as well as general interests for which I made a FB page for, such as eco-living, excellent and important podcasts, etc.), and once I moved to the UK from Washington State, it was how I kept in contact with my family and friends.

Finally, I got a lot of my news from Facebook. I have a lot of friends with a lot of interests who were keeping up to date with scientific advances, interesting practices and recipes, and of course, politics (which I tried to double check whenever I could).

Facebook has always been essential.

Wanting to Quit
(But did I really?)

I have tried to cut back on Facebook many times. I deleted the app, but then found that I would just log on via my browser anyway. I put myself on a timer, but I got annoyed when it would shut me down in the middle of reading something, so that was short lived. I then tried to keep track of my over-all screen time on my phone with weekly reports, but could never really remember how I did the previous week.

And when it came down to it, there were worse things I could be doing with my spare time, like husseling or smoking meth. I happily have never had an inkling to do either of those things, so Facebook has always seemed like a pretty reasonable habit to replace what could be far worse.

The Deal Breaker

Like I said, there were a lot of reasons why I wanted to quit Facebook, but I had a lot of excuses for why I should keep it.

I won’t go into what the actual deal-breaker was. That’s just for me and maybe some of the people I interact with (fun fact: you can book a free 30-minute session with me, and ask me all about it while you tell me about your work in progress!). However, when I did reach that point, I struggled to know where to start. After all, some of those reasons were valid reasons.

However, I knew that I actually wanted to do it. There was no shred of me that wanted to keep it around except for what seemed like the obligations such as keeping contact (a welcomed obligation) and marketing.

Finding the Compromise

I took several steps to make sure this happened, and I’ll tell you, it was hard.

Step 1: Timing

I picked a time when I knew I was going to be busy. I was in my second week of my visit to the states, and had about four days left to cram in everything I wanted to do with my friends and family, as well as showing my partner around my home state. By the way, Washington has tons of cool stuff to do, even in January.

One the four days were up, the following two days were going to be spent traveling and stressing. While I was traveling as well, I intended on catching up on a ghostwriting project I had at the airport and on the plane. Again, with needing to keep focus on the actual travel situation and get some work done, this made for a perfect time to switch off from distractions.

Step 2: Practical Steps

I needed to get rid of anything that would tempt me into checking Facebook. I deleted the app and deleted the history of it on my phone and on my computer. It’s really easy to go to Facebook when all you have to do is press the f + enter.

I didn’t delete Facebook entirely. Again, I still felt that my reasons were valid. So, I kept the Messenger app and downloaded the Facebook Pages Manager app, but put them on the second screen over. This meant that it wasn’t on my front screen, and I had to work to remember where I’d moved them to. This interrupted the automatic habit of clicking on them just for the sake of it. I had to think about what I was doing.

Step 3: Replacement

There were plenty of things to replace my habit. I could just get super hooked on Twitter instead, or Instagram. Or I could think constructively.

There are a lot of apps that I could use that would work toward writing, providing writing prompts, or creating a space to write and email what you’ve written fairly easily. Or I could even just write out blog entries on my phone. But I thought I would go with something entirely different.

I opted to learn a language.

So, now instead of spending hours on Facebook, I am learning Greek on Duolingo. It’s like a game, you get points, you level up and compete a little bit against others, and I’m learning at the same time. It’s expanding my mind.

This isn’t the most optimal, because I’m still distracted by it, but I am doing something constructive and working toward something that’s been on my goals list for quite some time.

The Result

At the time of posting this, I will have gone five weeks without Facebook. Again, I have kept the Messenger app and the Pages app, but that’ sit.

There have been some slip-ups. For example, while looking for a new car, I’ve clicked on a link that’s taken me to the Facebook Market place. I quickly exit out of the tab and start my search again, but usually, I don’t feel the draw to actually check the 61 notifications I saw at the top of the page.

The only time I actually miss Facebook, is when I feel that actual physical pull of mechanical habit wanting to hit f + enter. To be fair, that is most times I’m on the internet. But, through eliminating FB from my history, I no longer have that ease of being able to hit those two keys. I have to type out the whole address if I want to visit there. When I do slip up and hit f + enter, it just searches the letter f. This has helped me to be aware of when I do it, which is slowly making me aware of the want to do it before I get around to it. When I’m conscious of it, it’s easy enough to do something else entirely to deter the want.

The Take-Away
(Your Homework)

So yes, that’s great for me, but what about you? You’re reading this so that you can learn to break your habits, not to know that I was able to do it.

Here’s what you can take away from my experience:

1. Make Sure You Want It

Partially wanting to quite a habit isn’t enough. You need a reason that you can hold on to. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, trying to quit chewing your nails, trying to quit binging Friends for the hundredth time, or trying to quit toxic relationships. You need to be able to have a solid reason to tie yourself to.

2. List Why You Want Need Your Habit

Go easy on yourself. Examine the reasons you don’t want to break your habit, or why you feel you need to maintain it even if you don’t want to. Go through that list item by item and reason with it. How can you get around it?

3. Pick a Time

When you feel like you’ve negated your reasons or found a way to work around them, and when you’ve found your anchor to tie yourself to, then consider your timing.

When dieting, for example, it is strongly advised that you time the start of your diet right. When are the times you’re likely to stress eat or go for the junk food rather than the good stuff? Time your detox of your habit right.

4. Create a Step-by-Step Plan

Once you know your timing, then think about what steps you can take to break your habit. I once read a review of a self-help book. The book apparently suggested that if you wanted to quit smoking, you just didn’t light the cigarette, it was that easy. The review said, “Really, it’s that easy? Have you done it?”

Habits can be unconscious things. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re participating in it until we’re already doing it. So while you’re considering your plan, think about those times when you numbly fall into your habit and how you can navigate around them.

The art of remaining present in mind is a massive help. A great introduction to how to do this and the benefits of this is Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. By learning to stay present, you don’t fall into the mindlessness of automatic action without thinking.

Take practical steps that you’ve outlined in your plan and take them. Do you have a cold-turkey plan, or a gradual plan?

5. Find a Replacement

Let’s say you’re trying to replace toxic friendships in your life. What can you do instead of spending time with these people? You can put yourself out there to find new people, first of all. This could be by joining a book group, writing group, yoga class, or volunteering. Or you could decide that the time you spent on those toxic people is better spent on you. You could go to a movie by yourself or take yourself out dancing.

Spend time doing something you love, that brings you joy and lifts you up.

6. Bonus

Remember, you’re human. You’re going to have slip-ups. We all do, and that’s okay. But when you do, or when you catch yourself doing it, there are a few things you need to do:

  1. Notice that you’re doing it. If you don’t realize you’re doing it, then you won’t be able to stop yourself.
  2. Forgive yourself. Ragging on yourself for slipping up isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, it’s only going to put more pressure on you and make it more likely that you’ll do it again and again. However, if you can show yourself compassion, then you’re releasing good thoughts toward yourself. When you can think good things, then you can release those wonderful and good brain chemicals, and they’re the ones that are going to see you through this.
  3. When you do notice yourself slipping up, or feeling the urge to give in, drink water.

What? Drink water?

Honestly. Drinking water is your friend.

When you drink water, you think clearer and make better decisions. Plus it hydrates you, which can make you feel better, supports your immune system, supports the function of your body, and is a good habit to be in, anyway. I do this all the time when I catch myself getting distracted instead of writing or working on things for my business. Try it.

You Try

What is your habit that you’re struggling to break? What are you missing out on because of this habit? I’d love to hear about it and have a conversation about it. Feel free to contact me, or to leave a comment below.


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