How To Celebrate and Nourish Your Writer Self

We get drained and exhausted, and this was what I did when I found myself in this position.

Celebrating and Nourishing Your Writer Self Natural Writer Podcast

I recently just launched my podcast. I also just launched my first free workbook.

There was a lot more to both of these things than I thought there would be.

Of course, there’s designing the content, figuring out how I want to present it, then I have to figure out the tech and marketing side of both of these things…yet that isn’t the part that drained me.

It was the stress of it. The pressure of it.

It left me hitting a wall on Monday morning after I did my part to tell everyone about this podcast, and I felt so drained that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t have a creative or logical, or motivated bone in my body at the end of it.

Because I’ve been all work and very little introspection, I decided to participate in a daily tarot draw through August. Owl and Bones Tarot on Instagram has a set of daily questions that I decided to take part in.

In my exhaustion, I drew a few cards for the week ahead, as prompted: Energy/Let In/Keep Out/Mantra.

I drew the 4 of Cups, the Wheel of Fortune, and the Emperor. From those, I developed the following Mantra:

By moving with the flow, I open myself to fill my offered cup, unapologetically.

I gave in and flipped the fourth card anyway, to see what it had to offer: the King of Wands.

The King of Wands is a master of his craft, of the thing that lights him up. He’s also the master of Fire. This means that he knows when to fan the flames, and when they need to be tampered. He can find steadiness through his knowledge of how to balance his passions and desires.

That is the wisdom of my week ahead.

So I took the day off. I gave myself time to play.

I let the day move me and guide me and allowed myself the space to nourish myself.

While I’ve been diving head-first into building my business, I’ve left little to no time at all for my own personal enjoyments. I haven’t given myself space to be creative in the ways I feel most creative. I certainly haven’t looked after my body (seriously, I joined a gym three weeks ago and haven’t been once).

I have been in Fire and Air energy for all of July and so I took yesterday, August 2, to nourish the rest of my elements.

Since it was Lughnasadh (many pagans celebrate on the 1st, but I have always celebrated it on the 2nd), I decided to take the day and celebrate it. It’s a day of the first summer harvests, and a day of gratitude.

I went to the Co-op and bought as locally and ethically as I could, gathering vegetables, fresh herbs, edible flowers, local beers and a cider, getting myself excited to get home and bake some bread and make some stew.

I spent the afternoon cleaning the house, taking care of those chores that get put to the side when you’re too busy. I did those chores not out of necessity. They absolutely could have waited. But I wanted to do them. I wanted to take part in tending the hearth of my home, of honoring my personal patron, Hestia.

Then my evening was spent on the back porch, enjoying the evening, eating my cheddar and herb bread (made with chives, Herbs de Provence, local blond ale, and fresh edible flowers) and summer vegetable stew (with added stout to give it some power), while drinking Washington local, Finnriver lavender black current cider.

Responding to Goal-Setting & Celebrations

Why am I sharing all of this with you?

Because it is so easy to burn yourself out with doing what you feel must be done. We set goals, hard goals, ambitious goals, and we are determined to make them happen. We put a lot of energy into those goals.

But how often do we give ourselves time to rest after we’ve reached our goals?

Releasing the workbook and launching the podcast were two goals of mine, but they weren’t the end goal. They were steps I felt were necessary to reach the end goal. And they were worth celebrating when I reached those goals.

Sometimes celebrating looks like going out for a drink. Sometimes it looks like giving yourself a present. Sometimes it looks like skydiving. And sometimes it looks like rest.

While baking bread and making stew might not look like rest to many, it was rest to me. It was putting down business and making time for what I love to do, and how I nourish myself.

The key question then to ask yourself is what are you doing to nourish yourself? How are you filling your cup when you’ve completed a step? How are you taking time to honor yourself?

Take a moment to ask yourself this, and answer yourself before moving on.

What It Means to Celebrate

You might have noticed that I didn’t have a dinner party. I made dinner for me. Because it was about me being able to rest.

In coaching sessions, I often ask my clients to set goals, since that’s the nature of what we’re doing, but also to determine different levels of celebration when they hit key markers. What will they do when they get their wordcount for the day? For the week? How about when they finish their first draft? Their revision? Send out their manuscript for beta reading?

Often, what they come up with are treats for themselves, which is perfectly fine. It acts as a prize to strive toward. I would be lying if I said I didn’t do the same.

However, the best rewards aren’t necessarily what we set for ourselves ahead of time. Instead, it’s checking in with yourself when you meet that marker and seeing what you need at that point. Do you need a few days to just do nothing? Do you need some fun? Do you need to dance? To eat better? To move more? Do you need to clean? Do you need to just lay in the grass and watch the wind through tree branches?

Checking in with yourself at the time of your success is a great way to reward yourself. Consider which of your elements is running low, and do what you can to find that balance before you move on to the next check point.

What this doesn’t mean is using rest as a reward. It doesn’t mean neglecting yourself and using selfcare something you can let yourself have one you do the thing.

You should always be participating in selfcare.

What this does mean is that you’re then breaking down your tasks and goals into small, bite-sized chunks, and checking in with yourself when you complete each mouthful.

What do you need after you write 2,000 words in a day?

What can fan your flames after you’ve revised your 85,000-word novel?

What do you deserve after you’ve had the bravery to send your piece out to 8 beta readers?

How to Determine What You Need

Think about how you feel after you’ve completed a small task. Think about how you feel after you’ve completed a big task.

Most of us feel pretty accomplished when we complete something, and that’s the predominant feeling. However, there are sometimes undercurrents of other things: exhaustion, anxiety about what comes next, sadness that the task is over, etc.

There are ways to nourish all of those feelings and sensations.

There is no bad response to completing a task. Feelings area always valid. They are expressing a part of yourself, and the healthiest thing you can do for those expressions is to give them a voice at the table, and ask what they are there to really communicate to you.

For example, after my podcast and workbook releases, my brain had enough. My energy was low. What those were both telling me, my Air and Fire, was that I needed to do something that wasn’t mentally taxing. I needed to do something where I was feeling rather than expressing.

A good way to see where your energy is low is to spend some time—you guessed it—journaling on where you’re feeling drained.

This is effective if you have a deck of tarot cards that you can lay out for the following questions, without turning them over. Journal on the questions, then flip the cards and see where your perception and understanding of your situation lines up with your intuition and subconscious.

  1. In what area of life do I feel drained?
  2. What area of life lights me up?
  3. Fire:
    1. What is nourishing my passions?
    1. What is taking me away from my passions?
    1. What is taking away from my drive?
  4. Air:
    1. What thoughts are inspiring me?
    1. What thoughts are holding me back?
    1. What inspires me in general?
  5. Water
    1. How do I feel about the relationships in my immediate circle?
    1. What can I do to be more compassionate toward myself?
    1. How can I nourish myself more spiritually?
  6. Earth
    1. Where am I physically over-extending myself?
    1. What am I doing to support my body?
    1. How does my physical space affect me?
  7. What is the best piece of advice I can give myself?

If you do use the Tarot, pay attention to what suits come up the most, and which come up the least. That can give you a sign as to what might be in or out of balance.

Based on what you find here, you can see what you might need that would nourish you.

For example, if you find that maybe you are giving too much to your social life, then spending some alone time might be good for you. In which case, what is something fun, something that’s a treat that you can give yourself that will also nourish the part of you that needs to be replenished regarding your social life? Maybe going to see a movie on your own, a road trip on your own, or letting your friends do something for you so you don’t have to worry about it, but can still have fun.

Celebrate

Yes, you can absolutely celebrate your accomplishments, big or small, by treating yourself to a cupcake, a drink, a night out, a trip, and so on. These are wonderful things to be able to indulge in. But when you are taking time to honor the small steps you’ve done each day? That’s a good way to either go broke or develop some less than desirable, productive, or healthy habits.

By looking at celebration as ways to replenish what has been depleted, and enjoying the process, then you can work toward keeping up momentum and burnout.

Check in with yourself regularly, stay present within yourself, and see where your energy is starting to get low and do what you can to keep yourself topped up.

Get to Know Yourself

Want to see exactly what you need as a writer? I’ve got a free workbook just for you, using the Celtic Cross as a structure.

In this workbook, you’ll have over 75 pages of Tarot and journal prompts to see what is supporting your writing journey, and what might be hindering you.

Dive deeper into your writing habits and mindset and get this free workbook by signing up below!

3 Act Story Structure & Tarot

For those of you who outline, or for those who are in trepidation about outlining, you might be considering using the 3 Act Story Structure as a starting point. Tarot, whether you read the cards or not, can be very helpful in this.

The banner for the blog post reading : 3-Act Story Structure and the Tarot. Finding Direction for the 3 Acts and the Them of your WIP

What is the 3 Act Story Structure?

In a nutshell, the 3 Act Story Structure is, in its most simple form, the beginning, middle, and end.

But anyone who has actually looked into the 3-Act system will tell you it’s a little more complex than that. In a later series, I’ll dive a bit deeper into what the 3-Act system looks like, but for now, here is a brief overview.

Act 1

Act 1 of the 3-Act system is comprised of introducing your main character, showing their world as it currently is in some way, and the inciting incident. This leads you up to your first plot point.

The first act is often referred to as the Set-Up, for obvious reasons: You’re setting up your story. This is where a problem is presented and your MC has to step forward to resolve it, whether they want to or not.

The first act maybe consists of a quarter, at the very most, of your story.

Act 2

Act 2 of the 3-Act system is the largest part of the story. This is the bulk of your book. It’s where you have the confrontation of the problem presented in the book. This is your middle build all the way up to your climax.

In this section, you’ll have the try-fail sequences, you’ll have the complications in the love life, the obstacles that get your heroine has to overcome in order to slay the dragon, the difficulties in learning to fit in in order to become the champion—whatever your plot is, this is going to be what happens after your MC says yes to making changes (the inciting action) all the way to the climax.

The middle or middle build is where your character grows the most.

Act 3

Act 3 of the 3-Act system is where your MC’s growth is challenged. This is the point during which they can show that they truly have learned/changed/matured/excelled, or, they can show that despite all this learning, they failed (which would make the story a tragedy).

The climax happens in Act 3, and then, from there, the resolution of the problem presented in the first act, and the conclusion.

This section of the book is also quite small, maybe 15% of your book. Of course, there is no hard and fast rule to this, but that’s generally the standard.

3-Act Story Structure and Tarot

You can use the 3-Act Story Structure with Tarot, or rather, you can use Tarot to determine what happens in each of your Acts. Very simply (though I’ll go over this in more detail), you draw a card to represent each Act of your story.

In my first post about Tarot and writing, I talked about how in order to read the tarot with your writing, you only needed to look at the pictures and write about what you see. You don’t need to know the meaning of the cards.

The same concept applies.

Here is a spread to assist you with your 3-act stories, as well as a way of upgrading your system in order to help you develop your theme.

Please Note: This is a spread that I created in 2019 and published on my Tarot blog, KarmaStar Tarot. If you have seen it before, I assure you that I’m not stealing it. I own that blog, I own the spread (to my knowledge).

3-Act Story Structure Spread

A visual depiction of the 3-Act Story Structure Tarot Spread. There is the signifier card to the left, three vertical cards next to it, number 1 at the bottom, 2 in the middle, and 3 at the top. There are two cards on the right, vertically lined, reading card A at the bottom and Card B at the top. To the far right it reads S: Signifier, 1: Act 1, 2: Act 2, 3: Act 3, A: Theme 1, B: Theme 2

Your first three cards will each act as a single act:

Card 1: Act 1
Card 2: Act 2
Card 3: Act 3

This can be helpful if you have a signifier card.

What is a Signifier?

A signifier card is a card that you choose to represent your MC if you know who your MC is at this point.

When you pull this card from  your deck prior to laying down the cards, you can use it as a focal point as you shuffle. This can be a visual representation of your MC, that is, someone who looks like the MC, or it can be a picture that you feel depicts the spirit or the journey you plan to send your MC on.

Traditionally, the Court Cards of the Tarot were used to represent people. Because I’m encouraging you to set aside what you might know about the Tarot already, I strongly suggest that you look through the whole deck for your Signifier. It’s alright if you choose a Court Card, but just know that you don’t have to.

Using the Spread

Once you have your Signifier, if you’re planning to use one, then you can focus on it and what you know of your MC while you shuffle the rest of the deck. When you feel ready—and there is no wrong time—stop shuffling and draw three cards.

As mentioned before, the first card is your first act, the second card is your second act, and the third card is your third act.

I suggest that you lay them down face-down and turn them over one at a time. Spend some time on each card with a journal in hand, ready to write down what comes to mind. Don’t focus on it too much, just let your pen go. You can always shape it how you want it later on.

You can write what you see in the scene in the card, you can write down a feeling that you get from the card. This is for you. There is no wrong way to do it, unless you’re doing something that doesn’t feel right. Even then, trust yourself.

Spend at least 5-10 minutes on each card, really letting yourself free write on each card.

Adding 2 Cards for the 3 Acts

Once you’ve drawn the cards for the 3-Act Story Structure spread, you can draw a further two cards for the theme.

While there will be an all-over theme that your story will have, there can sometimes be a point in which the theme seems to switch, or at least, alter. For example, a story that starts out about surviving a war can then alter into a story of surviving in a new society. The overall theme of survival is there, but there is a switch in what the MC is surviving.

Draw two cards, A and B, one to put between the first and second act cards, and one to put between the second and third act cards.

Again, I encourage you to read the cards one at a time. Flip card A over and read it, spending time with it, and then looking at it in relation to how it relates to cards 1 and 2. Spend some time journaling what you think. Try looking at the cards in the order of 1, A, and 2 like they’re a story on their own. How does A act as a transition between cards 1 and 2? Or, you can read card A and look at cards 1 and 2 as the details of card A. How does this shape your story?

Do the same with cards 2, B and 3. Look at how they shape each other. Play around with this in your journal.

You can do this first, or you can do this after playing with cards 1-3, but another combination you can try is looking at cards A and B together to see what their combined meaning might be in terms of an overall theme for the story.

After the homework assignment, there will be an example if you’re interested in seeing how this might look.

Homework

If you have a deck of tarot cards, try this spread out, either on an existing concept for a story that you have, or completely from scratch.

If you don’t have a deck of cards, check out www.Serennu.com, using the 3-card reading feature. Use the three cards to represent each of the 3 acts. This isn’t an optimal site since it uses the Rider-Waite Smith deck (which I personally don’t find the best when reading for creative writing, though that’s a personal opinion). However, you can explore other sites that let you pick cards at random, or follow the hashtag #tarotreadings on Instagram, where you can find people posting their 3-card readings, and use those as inspiration for your 3-Act Story Structure Spread.

Example Reading

For this sample reading, I am using the Light Seer’s Tarot by Chris-Anne. I love this deck, and totally recommend it for creative writing prompts. There are many, many others that I could recommend, but that’s a post for another day.

Signifier: the Sun

I picked the Sun because it represents a woman who ha it all. She’s free-spirited and has a pretty contented life. If anything, she can be a little cocky, which is a downfall of hers, but Tasha feels like she has been touched by the sun.

Act 1: 3 of Pentacles

3 of Pentacles Light Seer's Tarot

Tasha is a part of an artistic group, and she’s somewhat the boss in the grope. The guy, Daniel, is in love with her, and then he asks her out. Tashia, however, knows that her sister, Rebecca, sitting on the floor there, is in love with Daniel. While Tashia has harbored feelings for a while, she has respected Rebecca’s feelings and kept them to herself.

When Daniel asks her out, in front of her sister, everything changes. What was once a tight-knit creative group of friends has now become a place of hurt.

Act 2: 10 of Swords

10 of Swords Light Seer's Tarot

With her sister blaming Tashia for Daniel’s feelings and Tasha not wanting to confront her own feelings, she leaves. She can’t stick around for this. She needs to figure out what she wants in life. Is it Daniel? Is it family? What means the most to her?

She knows that she can’t stick around to find out, and so she leaves, getting them both out of her daily living so she can learn about herself.

Act 3: Queen of Wands

Queen of Wands Light Seer's Tarot

What Tasia learns is that life is precious and must be celebrated. She knows that she loves Daniel and Rebecca equally, and she would rather love Daniel as a friend and keep him in her life as well as keep Rebecca in her life by not betraying her and going for Daniel.

She has gone and come back with her heart-centered answer, and was humbled during the experience.

Card A: Death

Note: If ever you draw the Death card in Tarot—IT DOES NOT LITERALLY MEAN DEATH. I feel like since I’m talking to writers that we can all understand the idea of symbolism. Death is a symbol of transformation and growth, of shedding that which is no longer needed in order to move on to the next thing.

Tarot Spread. Far left card is the Sun, showing a woman spreading her arms and looking up at the sun, as if she's been spinning and stopped to pay homage. Three cards are next to the left card, lining up vertically. The bottom card is the 3 of Pentacles, showing a woman sitting and knitting on the floor, working on the wall hanging in the center of the card. A man is holding the wall hanging up, looking down and smiling at a second woman, who is standing with her back to the reader and looking up at the man. The middle card is a woman walking away along dry, sandy ground, with ten crows flying over head. This is the 10 of Swords. The top card is a woman sitting cross-legged, smiling with joy, with a cat curled up at her feet. There are candles all around her. She is smiling at a ball of light in one hand, and in the other hand she holds a staff straight up in the air. This is the Queen of Wands. There is a third column of cards, made of two cards. The bottom card is Death, a hooded face that reveals a night sky over dark trees inside the hood. The top card is a person suspended by a ribbon, bent

That being said, I’ll move on.

There is a hooded figure in the Death card, and a center of light, with tells me there is a journey within. It’s a night time setting within the hood, which tells me that it’s a journey into the unknown. This is the theme of the first part of the story, is helping Tasha look within, which is something she hasn’t done before.

The Death card is a contrast to the shiny card of the Sun which is her signifier, which says to me that the lessons she has to learn will balance her.

With this card falling between card 1 and 2, there is a transformation in which she has to think of other people. Her social sphere has changed when Daniel told her that he cares about her, and when Rebecca overheard it. She’s forced into the changed sphere. If she wants to fix it, she needs to change is further.

Card B: Hanged Man

The Hanged Person is confident and comfortable enough in their position that they can close their eyes and reach into the pools of messages and meaning. Tasha grows comfortable with her ability to sink within to find meaning, to remain still and listen to what her inner wisdom has to say. She can remain suspended in this place for as long as she needs to.

It is through this sitting with herself that she recognizes the need to act from a place of love, in its truest and purest sense, in order to make things right between her, Daniel and Rebecca. From this, she comes back with the answer.

Combining A and B

The first part of the story is about delving within. For Tasha, she’s not comfortable with this because she’s never done it. Because she wants to find answers and keep her sunshiny existence as loving as peaceful as she can, she has to get uncomfortable in order to grow.

She finds that the discomfort isn’t so bad, and even begins to find comfort in it, and from there she grows.

The overall theme then is finding growth in discomfort.


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!