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.


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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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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 2020 Journal Prompts Announcement

Journaling is an important part of the writing process. It’s how we empty our minds of what might be distracting us, and how we work through our blocks. It can also act as a way for us to generate ideas and work through them for new projects.

For September, I have created a daily writing prompt list for your journal. Each day there will be a different word for you to mull over and write about. However, this is more than just looking at this as a writing prompt.

Words are what we use. They are our medium. They are how we build words, create characters, project emotion into the reader. Words are what create and destroy projects, people, and civilizations. Words are powerful. We wield a mighty sword.

Thus, I want to bring forward some words each day to contemplate. Some are mundane and some might be obviously powerful. But all of them will have positive and negative sides. For these words, I’m also providing a set of questions for you to journal on revolving around the word. The questions won’t change, but are a challenge to really crack open the word and dig deep into it.

I want to really get your thoughts going regarding each daily word. So there will be a few questions to get your mind going.

  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?
    For example, historically “making love” would mean to say sweet things to another, in a form of showing love. Today, it’s a lighter, sweeter term of an emotionally-entangled sex.
  5. How do you feel about this word?
    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?
    There is a wonderful Bad Lip Reading video called “SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)” of Yoda and Luke Skywalker, where Yoda is singing about being attacked by Seagulls (look it up, it is hilarious). One of the lines is “One day I was walking, and I found this big log. Then I rolled the log over and underneath was a tiny little stick. And I was like ‘that log had a child!’”
  8. If you feel inspired, use this word as a creative writing prompt.

Of course, you don’t have to answer all of these questions. However, the idea is that it generates you to think about these words differently and use them as an anchor of personal development, of diving deep into the self, as well as getting creative with how we use language in our writing.

The words will be posted each day on my Instagram Account, @NaturalWriterCoaching, and I’ll post the full chart with the month’s words on here as well. This is 30 days’ worth of journaling for you. I’m excited. I hope you are too!

Happy Writing!

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Natural Writer Coaching Transformation

First of all, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your patience with my unannounced break in my blog posts and even my social media attendance. I’d like to say it was intentional, but let’s face it—I had no idea what was going on.

Here’s what I knew:

  1. I was refraining at first from writing newsletters in support of Black Lives Matter. I felt like to refrain one week and then go back to normal the next week was insensitive, and I spent a little bit of time trying to figure out when would be most appropriate. During that time, I tried to educate myself as best as I could, take a good hard look at those I follow on social media, whose voices I read and listen to, and so on. I’ve been working on my own biases and I know that it is an on-going process that I’ll likely never complete, though I do strive to be better in my failings.
  2. I wasn’t doing enough for you. At least, I felt like I wasn’t. Sure, I was providing weekly writing prompts and journal prompts for my newsletter recipients (which hopefully were helpful) and I was posting daily on Instagram, though I felt like both of these things fell a bit short.
  3. I wanted to dive deeper. More than just what gets us writing, but more into what gets our blood pumping and our pulses racing in excitement. I wanted to dive deeper. I knew how I wanted to dive deeper, but I didn’t know how my audience would respond to it.

I think I know how I personally want to remedy these things, at least, I know how I want to open myself up to my audience as well as really focus in on those who I think will connect best with my message.

But first, regarding the last two things, let’s step back a beat. Let’s go back to when I started coaching. A few of you on my mailing list are my first clients, so you already know this story. But I’ll share it for the newer folx.

I Started Out as a Tarot Reader

In case you hadn’t picked up on this nugget of information from my tarot posts, my first successful website was not about writing (for the most part). Nope, it was about card-slinging.

I was a tarot reader—well, I still am. That hasn’t stopped. But I was trying to make headway with a tarot website, KarmaStar Tarot.

It was doing alright, but I was working myself to the bone with it. I was trying to make sure I had 3 blog posts up A DAY. If you’ve ever run a blog, you understand how absurd that it. But I did it for a good six months before I burnt myself out. That, however, was enough for me to get steady traffic. The last post I put up was in January, and I still get more traffic on a day to day basis than I did when I was regularly writing in it.

I digress.

One of the things I was doing on my tarot blog was creating tarot spreads for writers. I started (very last minute and will hardly any planning) the #30DayTarotWritingChallenge for Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I created 31 daily tarot spreads to help anyone participating in any form of NaNoWriMo with their story, from character development, to story structure, to plot, to good ol’ being stuck.

And my blog exploded. The months before Camp NanoWriMo and NaNoWriMo proper, my blog always explodes with writers using the tarot for their writing prompts. I get comments on my blogs asking about writing and I just adored it.

And that was what got me from making the switch from being tarot-focused to being a writing coach. I have my background as a college writing tutor, I have my education, I have my vast experience writing as a ghost writer, and I have my absolute adoration of talking to writers about writing. It was perfect, and I already had an audience of folks who might be willing to work with me.

I put out an announcement saying I was wanting to try out coaching, and I worked with three wonderful women. I adored it.

I don’t want to say it was my favorite part, because there was so much I loved about working with my first three clients, but one of my favorite parts was that because I connected with them as a result of my tarot blog, I knew we were all somewhat into spirituality in whatever form that took. And all of us used that aspect of ourselves through those first few months working together, whether they used their cards to guide their work, or we worked together through meditation and affirmations. The spirituality aspect was there.

However, since creating my writing coaching website, I’ve tried to keep that aspect of myself on the downlow. I didn’t know if I would lose clients or not, or if it would mean people wouldn’t take me as seriously.

Now, Fast-Forward to My Unannounced Hiatus

When the BLM movement started, I began to pay very close attention to what advocates and Black voices were asking for. One of the best pieces of information I was given was to ask myself if I feel uncomfortable, and if so, sit with it, knowing that no one is going to get me for being uncomfortable.

There is a lot to be said regarding this. I highly suggest you check out Ar-tic.org or art_tic_org (IG), or if you want to read more about where I took it, you can check out my series here regarding privilege and how I, as a white person, sat with my discomfort, and offered journal prompts to help other white people do the same. Though, the best place to start is with the first link rather than mine.

However, this invitation to sit with discomfort and know that no harm is going to come from me beings uncomfortable is such a beautiful action to take. It allows you to give space to it and truly listen to why you’re uncomfortable, and from there you can know what actions to take that will promote the most growth for you.

That was what I did regarding BLM and the many social injustices caused by a system of which I am a part of, and that was what I did when I considered what I really wanted from my writing coaching practice.

While I of course want to work with any writer who is struggling, I am going to take a particular focus and approach that intertwines spirituality and writers. Thus, I am a spiritually-based writing coach.

What Does That Mean?

Ok, first of all, let’s start out with acknowledging that the biggest thing that scares us and our egos, is change. But let me show you how it’s not that scary in regards to what I’m mixing up here. First, allow me to set your mind at ease with what isn’t changing:

Here’s what hasn’t changed:

  1. I am always going to be in your corner cheering you on.
  2. I am always going to be there as a soundboard to help you through your story
  3. I’ll talk story structure, character development, plot development, marketing, goals, etc.
  4. I’m going to help you work through the blocks that are getting in your way
  5. My pricing is still the same

Here’s what’s different:

  1. I’m going to include more spiritually-based concepts such as affirmations, meditation, prayer (though non-denominational), energy shifting, etc.
  2. I’m going to include the tarot in my newsletters

That’s it in a very small nutshell.

Getting a Little Personal

While I’ve been asking what I want from this business over my hiatus, other than to help people create their master pieces, I realized that all I want is freedom.

One of my own personal problems over the last few years is that my inner core has been buried. Years ago, I went through a breakup that left me feeling empty, and instead of spending time trying to refill myself, I made myself busier and busier, identifying myself with my work. I moved to another country, and instead of letting myself be me, I tried to be what I thought other people wanted.

The result was a lot of depression, anxiety, and anger. I created an environment for myself where I couldn’t be me.

And now I’m financially independent, and I don’t need to be anyone else other than myself. Thus, I’ve resolved to be unapologetically me, and that is how I intend to find my freedom.

Part of that, is my spirituality. And I want to be me in sessions with my clients. I don’t want to hold myself back during sessions, especially if I think it will help people.

I of course am never going to push my own personal spirituality onto people, but I will mention a mediation, or a mantra, a book, etc., that I might think will help. If my client isn’t interested, that’s totally cool. But I want to feel the freedom to be able to mention it without wondering if I’m going to scare my client off in doing so.

That’s where I’m at.

That’s my big announcement. And I am so thrilled to be doing this.

Your Homework

What, just because I have an announcement for you, you think that means you don’t have homework? Bsha!

Things have been weird for everyone. If it hasn’t been weird for you over the last eight months—please write to me or share in the comments below how you have kept things absolutely the same. I am super intrigued and I’m sure some of us could learn from you!

Weird isn’t a bad thing though. It causes us to reevaluate and adjust in order to adapt. So I want you to take note of that. I want you to spend some time making a list of things you have had to do to change and adapt to this new way of living.

Make a numbered list of everything you’ve done.

Now, go through and ask yourself what’s working—what feels good, what doesn’t feel good and you’ll be happy to see the back of.

I don’t think this is going to happen, because we are forever changed by this virus, but, let’s just say that everything goes completely back to the way things were before the virus. What have you learned over the last eight months that you’d like to carry through with you? How have you adapted in positive ways that will enhance how you move through life?

This is a time to reflect on your growth.

And just know, I’m proud of you.

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Natural Writer: Ignite, Light, limber, Fluid, Rhythmic

Why Natural Writer?
What does natural mean?
Someone who’s got the talent without ever having tried? Someone who just connects and gets it?
Or is it authentic?

I thought I would spend some time delving into my choice of business name, because “natural” can mean so many different things in so many different contexts.

What “Natural” Means for You

Honestly, I wanted use the term “authentic” but “Authentic Writer” didn’t roll off the tongue too well, and the use of “authentic” I feel is used too much in the coaching industry.

That being said, I feel that I should define it, in my terms.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Authentic to me is more than just unique, but rather the raw kernel in all of us that represents us. It is our signature that makes us who we are: the way we move, look, think, and express ourselves. It is the burning passions within us that move us forward, or our fears that act as our barriers to break through.

Authenticism is our own signature of existence that no one can replicate or take away.

And what does that mean from this aspect?

It means that I want to draw out the natural side of you. I want to bring forward your unique vision and fingerprint into the world, so that your voice is heard how you want it to. I want you to be able to find confidence in yourself in order for you to tell your story. Those fears I mentioned earlier? The deeper you can break through them, and that’s what I’m here for.

I want to support you to bring out your Natural You. I want you to be inspired, to ignite, to and to light.

What “Natural” Means to Me

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

There are a couple of reasons why I chose the word “Natural.”

The first ones is that I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and the town I’m from in Washington, though it’s technically a city these days, was once described to me as “being carved from between the trees.” We are the evergreen state, meaning that we are covered in evergreen trees.

While I love my life in the UK, I miss the evergreens, and I regularly crave the company of the trees, as where I currently live in North Yorkshire doesn’t have too many.

“Natural” is a nod to the trees, and to my home state.

But it means so much more than that. “Natural” implies nature, as in, what is given to us. While I believe there are some of us who have that inkling toward writing, and that inkling fuels our practice which makes it seem like talent, we are all born with the ability to create our own magic, our own talent.

Our artistic abilities, our story-telling, is a ingrained in us as the want and need to grow is of anything else. I think if I were to define what separates us from animals, the defining quality would be that, not only can we tell stories, but we live to tell stories.

We are the stories that we create. We are always telling ourselves the stories of what our failures will look like, our successes. We’re always relaying the lessons and stories bestowed upon us by life or those who came before us, or those around us. We tell our stories to our friends and partners about our day, our week, our year, something we saw, something we heard.

We are all stories.

That is our natural part of nature.

The natural world teaches us so much about how to simply be. But more than that, it teaches us how to react to the world.

When you consider the trees, they can snap in the wind, or they can bend. Water finds its own path and if the path isn’t available, it carves its own path.

What is that if not creativity?

The creative life is filled with adversary, whether it’s from those outside of us telling us that our art is not a feasible career, or we receive criticism or a rejection letter. Or that adversary could come from within, stopping us from getting to even to the point where we vocalize our desires for a creative life.

Thus, we need to be limber, to roll with the punches, to be able to bend when these thoughts or the outside word try to blow us down. We don’t need to fall down, just let it pass.

We can make our own way. We’re creatives! There is always a way to be made. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I know damn well that you have that will.

The natural world is also rhythmic. It goes in cycles, whether it’s the mating cycle, the moon’s phases, or the seasons.

We too, as writers, must find our own rhythm. This can be the “flow” when we write, or the phases of the year or the month when we know we need to rest.

Rebecca Campbell talks about in Rise Sister Rise, how each of us have a winter season. Our winter season, whether it’s more than once during the year or just once a year, is the time we take to hibernate. It is when we know we need to take a step back from the heavy lifting of productivity and let ourselves recuperate.

What I want to support you in is how to be limber, fluid, and rhythmic.

This is the reason I choose the word Natural. This is the reason why you are a Natural Writer.

Let’s help the world see it.

Let’s work together. If you want to learn more about what I do, what we can do, or just want to know if we might work well together, get ahold of me. Shoot me an email using the form below and we can schedule a 30-minute Skype call for Free.

I look forward to meeting you and discovering your natural, authentic, you.

Writing When You’re Not Writing and How to Use It

title image:
Writing when you're not writing & how to use it.

I hear you loud and clear, writing is arduous. That’s why it’s easier to wait for the muse to grant you with grace and verbability than to put your butt in the chair and just get some words down.

Truth Time

photo related to the text: an empty desk with a laptop on it, relaying the writer who can't get themselves to sit down and write
Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

I have some news for you though, friend: you are always writing. Whether you like it or not, and whether or not you are a writer. You are always writing.

Every breath you take, every move you make, you are writing you.

We are who we present to the world. We are in constant calculation of how we are going to come across, who we want to be, and how we express ourselves.

Consider the blog posts you write, the emails you scribe, the Instagram posts and Facebook comments you make, the texts you send—all of it is an act of writing in some way. You are producing the content that makes up you.

I’m Talking to You,
Non-Writing Writer

Not a writer? Well, first of all, welcome to this writing blog. Second of all, you are still writing, whether you like it or not.

I know a guy who is not on social media—in fact, he is avidly against social media—and he rarely, if ever, texts. Sometimes he writes emails and when he does, it is a test of endurance as he doesn’t know how to use the spacebar. Literally (also, this person is very dear to me, I’m not making fun of him, just using him as an example).

Photo related to the text: two people having a conversation because even just talking is writing our story
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

This guy is also a writer. How he tells stories, that is, relaying his day to me, telling me about what he learned, sharing his opinions—all of it, is a form of writing. Whether he is physically putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, he is relaying a part of himself to a witness, and that witness will remember these conversations and experiences, and they may in turn, use it in their own writing.

Kind of like how I just did.

The point is, even how we express ourselves in conversation is a form of writing. After all, isn’t that what a Bard does? Relays stories to be passed along? One might call that Oral Writing, don’t you think?

Plot Twist

Whether he is physically putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, he is relaying a part of himself to a witness, and that witness will remember these conversations and experiences, and they may in turn, use it in their own writing.

Doesn’t that feel liberating? Think about how much you actually write, how you write it, and how it changes depending on what you’re writing or who you’re writing to. Isn’t that intriguing? You are not only writing, but you’re creating different character profiles depending on the person you’re talking to.

What?

Oh yeah, the plot twist is that all this writing means that you are developing your own character sheet of yourself. Not only are you discovering your likes and dislikes through the life you’re living, but you are being shaped through your experiences. You’re seeing how you react to situations, as well as finding out how much control you have over those reactions.

Isn’t that exciting?

The cool thing is that, as a result, you are learning how to develop a character. You are the MC, the Main Character, in your own novel. What’s it like to be the silent observer in the back of your mind taking notes?

Try it out. Let the rest of us know how it went. Tell us in the comments Sharing is caring, and I think everyone here cares.

Your Homework

Now that you know you’re a writer, whether you like it or not, your homework is essentially to study yourself. There are two parts to your homework.

Part 1

Photo by The Teens Network Daytime Show Studios on Pexels.com

Spend time observing yourself without judgment. Take at least an hour at the end of each day, or several stolen moments throughout the day to reflect on yourself throughout the day. Consider:

  • Things you’ve said, no matter what it is – don’t focus and over analize or beat yourself up if you said something you don’t like, just record it.
  • How you reacted to conversations and situations. Did a car cut you off and you shouted at them? Did you laugh when a kid sneezed and bumped his head on a sneeze guard?
  • Your textual writing.

Don’t judge yourself. There is no room for judgement in this exercise. I cannot stress this enough. This is for intrigue, not criticism.

But go over text messages, social media posts and comments, blog posts, personal writing, conversations, etc.

Write a summary in each stolen moment or at the end of the day of the different ways you portrayed yourself as if you were writing a character.

Again, again, again: this is not an exercise in judgement, but just an exercise of curious observation.

Part 2

Pick a character that you feel is kind of flat that you’ve already created or create one from scratch. If they exist in the modern world, what form of social media do they prefer and how do they use it? If they exist in another time, what kinds of letters do they write, if they can write? How do they tell a story? Are they quick and to the point, or do they meander and waffle?

How do they communicate to their loved ones, their friends, their employer, their customers, their employees?

Develop a character purely through how they communicate, moving through the various forms of communication.

That’s it! That’s your homework!

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Writing when you're not writing and how to use it.
Writing is arduous. It's easier to wait for the must to grant you grace and verbability than to sit down and write. But I've got news for you. 
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