Tarot for Writers: What Does it Mean to Journal on a Tarot Card?

I talk a lot about Tarot. And one of my favorite practices is to tell people to journal. The combination of that often results in telling people to journal on a Tarot card.

What does that mean?

The Importance of Journaling

There are many gurus, teachers, therapists, and writers out there who will tell you that journaling is essential and important to keeping a healthy mind. Yet it’s easy to get hung up on what that means.

For many of us, when we were in school, we would be given writing prompts to get us to think about what we had learned. “What was the significance of living eternally in Tuck Everlasting?” “Would you want to live forever? Why or why not?”

I used to hate them. Truly.

Now I love them. I love the idea of delving into what I think about something. This is essentially what journal prompts serve to do. They invite a person to collect their thoughts and put them onto paper, or into audio.

The Benefits of Journaling

One way that journaling is effective is that it’s like putting your thoughts into a funnel. You have everything floating around in your head, but as soon as you have to put them into words, your brain has to organize them. It’s like untangling a knot into something manageable.

While this is an excellent reason to journal, the best understanding of the importance and therapeutic method of journaling has come from Julia Cameron in her book, The Right to Write.

She writes that journaling is allowing you the space to witness yourself. Often times we need to be witnessed, but so much of what we feel or what we think is shrouded in fear or shame. We’re afraid of what people will think of us if they knew we had x thought, or y belief, or felt a particular way.

When we journal, we are giving ourselves space to express what’s inside of us, and we are bearing our own witness.

I think this is truly beautiful, and essential for everyone to experience.

Journaling on a Tarot Card

So what does it mean to journal on a Tarot card?

This is a great practice when you’re learning to do Tarot or to read an oracle deck, and there are many ways to do this. There is no one right way. However, here are some offerings.

Note: I should mention, these are exercises designed mostly for Rider-Waite-Colman-Smith- and/or Thoth-based decks. While some of these exercises can be used for Tarot de Marseille decks, they don’t translate as easily. Oracle decks can also be used in this manner as well.

1. Describe What You See

Even if you know all the card meanings, describing what you see in a card can help you get to what you need to know about a card. It shows you what’s catching your eye first. Pay attention to that, and examine what that image, color, number, symbol, glyph, etc. might mean to you.

When you write this out, or record it out loud, you’re giving yourself the space to explore a card beyond the keyword meanings you might have memorized.

If you’re new to getting to know the Tarot, this is an opportunity for you to discover more about the picture in front of you.

2. Describe What You Feel

Writing the emotions or thoughts that come up immediately when you look at a card can help you get to the heart and energy behind a card. If you flip over the 3 of Cups and you feel panicked, then there’s a chance that you should pay attention to how you feel about social situations. If you turn over the 10 of Swords and feel relieved, then the chances are you should examine how you can move out of your particular situation and go toward that new dawn on the horizon.

Write out how you feel, and then ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Ask yourself “why?” several times, or “what can I learn from this?” several times before you move on. This is how you get in deep to your psyche.

3. Define the Card

Write out your definition of the card. If you know the card, or even if you don’t know the card, write out what it means to you. What is the image telling you? What story can you get from the picture in front of you?

Now, how does that story or definition relate to the position of the card, and to your life right now? Write it all out. Allow yourself to organize your thoughts in this way, and see what unfolds before you.

Ways to Journal

There is no right way to journal. Whether you’re doing it for a writing project, for school, or to get to know the tarot, there is no one way that is correct. What is correct is what works for you and serves you the best.

There are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t judge yourself for what you express through journaling. You are making space for yourself. You are allowing yourself a safe place to explore and examine ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Don’t think too hard. Try to let it flow
  • Have compassion for yourself.

Here are some ways to journal

Longhand

While of course you can type out your journal entries, writing by hand, or by some measure other than pressing buttons, helps you to connect better with your thoughts and with the exercise.

When you write longhand, you can write your journal entry like you’re talking to someone, in pros, in poem form, however you want so long as the pen is moving or the voice keeps speaking, until you’re done.

Audio

Personally, I suffer from a hand injury a few years ago. When I write too much, my wrist and hand ache and it’s useless for a while. This is just one reason why someone might not be able to, or might not want to journal by hand.

Creating an audio recording is a helpful way to get around this. So long as you can find a space to yourself and can access some form of recording perhaps on your phone, on your computer, or into an old Home Alone Voice Recorder, then you’re good.

I do want to note that while yes, you can absolutely dictate your journaling to the computer, I wouldn’t recommend dictation as your writing practice. The reason I say this is that when you dictate, you need to tell the computer or dictation software to put in commas, periods, line breaks, etc. This can interrupt the flow of thought, and might create a barrier to achieve what you’re looking to achieve through your journaling.

Bullet Journaling

Bullet Journaling is a combination of art and journaling. It allows you to think and mull and gnaw on your thoughts while you doodle and color, and then bullet point your key thoughts.

Furthermore, not everyone can express themselves fully through writing. Words aren’t their medium, and there is nothing wrong with that. Using bullet journaling allows for the journaler to use color, lines, and images to give a broader range of expression.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what any of the images mean to anyone else, only the person expressing themselves. The journal is for you and only you.

Combining Tarot & Journaling

It’s no secret that I see the Tarot as an excellent tool for writers. Learning to journal on a Tarot card is a great way to help a writer sink into the scene in a card and use it to help them write their story.

For example, a two-card reading process I like to use is Situation & Problem. The first card acts as the situation I’m starting from, then the card that crosses it is the Problem. From there, I begin writing.

If I turn over the 5 of Wands, then my situation could be competition. If my second card is the Lovers, then the Problem is either a choice that has to be made, or perhaps a competing love interest, depending on where I want to go with this this card.

When I journal on the situation, and what the card looks like, the colors expressed, what the images mean to me, I’m starting my brain along the path of how I could apply this to a story. This is my jumping off point for my story, whether it’s a piece of flash fiction, a novel, or a short story.

Likewise, when I begin to journal on the Lovers and what it means to me or how I might apply it in terms of the first card, then I’m beginning to develop a plot. I’m exploring how what I know, what I feel, what I see in this prompt can be the thing to interrupt the first card.

This is just one way out of hundreds that I can benefit from journaling around or about a Tarot card.

Celtic Cross Spread for Writers Workbook

If you want to take a truly deep dive into your writing practice and discover more about yourself as a writer, I have something just for you:

The Celtic Cross Spread for Writers Workbook

This workbook has over 65 pages of journaling exercises to help you plunge into the depths of what makes you, you, of what your writing habits are, what is supporting you, and what is holding you back.

Through using the classic Celtic Cross Tarot spread, I walk you through

  • Getting real with your current situation
  • Begin looking at your writing life through the lens of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water
  • What’s getting in your way
  • Uncovering your biases that might be holding you back
  • Looking at what’s supporting or hindering you internally and externally
  • How to develop your actionable steps to make necessary changes
  • And more

The best part about this workbook? It’s completely free.

Fill out the form below to get your workbook and begin learning how Tarot and your journaling practice can serve you as a writer!

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!

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Your Inner Writing Seasons

Happy Spring Equinox, Writers. And for those of you in the southern hemisphere, happy Autumn Equinox.

While I acknowledge that there are two beautiful changing of the seasons happening in two different parts of the world, I want to focus on the Spring.

When spring arrives, we are transitioning from the winter into the lighter, warmer months. Things are coming into bloom, and animals are waking up.

I feel the seasons strongly. I certainly am dormant in the winter, and awaken as the days lengthen. The sun and I are good friend in that way.

And yes, this has everything to do with writing.

A really great intimation revolves around the turning of the seasons, stating that nothing blooms all year round, and thus, we shouldn’t be expected to, either.

When it comes to writing, we all find our rhythm and groove. We go through cycles, sometimes in a phase of motivation and productivity, and other times of feeling completely drained. This is all perfectly find and natural. The earth turns through different seasons, and life goes dormant for a while. Likewise, the moon waxes and wanes, sometimes appearing in full darkness, and other times in full dark.

This is the way things are.

We live in a time where constant productivity is valued, encouraged, and even shamed if we’re not allowed to achieve that. As a result, we have people burning themselves out, and unable to focus on their passion and art, even though that might be the thing that lights them up.

Giving yourself permission to determine what your seasons are, what your internal cycle are, and when you’re at you’re brightest and when you need to rest can make or break your writing rhythm.

Some of you might be sensing a bit of a contradiction. After all, have I not been one to encourage practicing writing every single day?

And I still do.

Writing does not have to be perfection, nor does it have to be quality. It doesn’t even have to be on one project. It just has to be writing, the act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard every day. This is also why I encourage journaling. It is still writing, which is still exercising that muscle. Even if it’s just a couple sentences a day that you plan to delete the following day, or throw away, it’s still something.

However, the key is that you learn to attune your writing habits to your own personal seasons. And your own personal season do not need to match the Earth’s seasons in your area. You find what work for you. Again, though, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to return to spring.

For those of you who are like me who rise and fall with the seasons and the sun, spring can be nourishing. Astrologically, we’ve just passed into Aries, which is the first sign of the Zodiac. It’s a sign of being present and being seen. It’s often compared to a newborn. A baby comes into this world and makes no apology for the space it takes up, or for the attention it demands or the needs that it has.

And this is the energy of Aries.

Aries and spring are new to the year, and flowers blossom and unapologetically take up space. Consider the weed that begin popping up everywhere, for example (I love weeds,  by the way). They know when it’s their time and they go for it.

As the earth rotates and orbit, the spring can bring fresh ideas, fresh energy, and new eyes. Use this time if you resonate with it. Spend time asking yourself if you need to move on to a new project, or if you need to look at an old or continued project with fresh, new eyes.

What doe you need to bring this energy into your creativity?

Your Homework

Spend some times evaluating your own personal seasons. Look back over the last year, or last few years (since we all know 2020 was like no other year), and ask yourself when you’ve been most energetic, or felt more challenge to keep up the pace you were on. What does that tell you about that time of year?

If you don’t know, I encourage you to get a planner or even your journal, and begin paying attention to your energy levels. You can look at it in terms of weather (are you more or less energetic when it’s cloudy out? Are you more introverted or extroverted? Etc.), the moon phase, the season, or even go so far as the planetary positions.

The other thing I want you to try to do is challenge yourself to start something new this week. It doesn’t have to be a big project, but start a short story, or a piece of flash fiction, or challenge yourself to write something you don’t normally write, which could be poetry or a YA piece. But do something new.

As you look over your new piece, be unapologetic about it. That means that you respect that it is something you created and can build from. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is, and it has potential, even if it’s just something you used as a tool to learn from. It is the foundation of something from which you can build.

Happy Writing, happy Spring, and happy New Beginnings!

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New Moon in Libra: Planning Balanced Writing

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

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

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

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

New Moon in Libra & Your Writing 

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

Planning your writing process means:

1. Knowing What Environment Supports Your Creativity Best.

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

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

2. Knowing the Time of Day that You Write Best

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

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

3. Knowing How You Experience Exhaustion

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

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

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

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

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

4. Knowing What Measure to Take to Prevent Burn Out

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

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

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

5. Knowing How to Care for Yourself When Burnout Strikes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Creating Balance

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

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

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

Balance is the Key

balance macro ocean pebbles
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

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

Support Through NaNoWriMo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Writing!

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

Writing with the New Moon

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

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

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

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

What is the New Moon?

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

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

How to Use the New Moon

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

What does this mean in terms of writing?

It’s a great time to start a book.

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

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

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

Your Homework

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book a Free 30-Minute Session with Me

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

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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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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Setting & Releasing Writing Goals: Considering the Writing Journey

I’m a strong advocate of setting goals and really feeling into those goals. That is, looking into what it will be like to reach those goals, and capturing that experience and holding onto it. However, that’s only part of it.

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chödrön takes on Buddhist philosophies and teachings for how to handle difficult situations from a place of compassion and love. One of the things she covers, though not specifically, is looking at the outcome of things.

When we are trained in the art of peace, we are not given any promises that, because of our noble intentions, everything will be okay. In fact, there are no promises of fruition at all. Instead, we are encouraged to simply look deeply at joy and sorrow, at laughing and crying, at hoping to fearing, at all that lives and dies. We learn that what truly heals is gratitude and tenderness.

When Things Fall Apart, p. 129

I wanted to share this quote because I believe it expresses perfectly how we should approach our writing and our writing goals—or any goals for that matter.

Let me break it down.

We Are Not Given Any Promises that Everything Will Be Okay

“When we are trained in the art of peace, we are not given any promises that, because of our noble intentions, everything will be okay.”

Let’s consider the first part of the quote.

Setting the Goal

“When we are trained…” Training implies that there is a goal to be reached. In the context of the quote, the goal is peace. When we set out to write, our goal is to finish the piece that we’re working on. It might even go further than that: our goal is to publish, is to be famous, to earn a living, to have a franchise, to just distribute to family, etc.

Consider every time you’ve set a goal. What have you attached to achieving that goal emotionally? Is it pride? A sense of accomplishment? What does that sense of accomplishment feel like? Is it joy? Happiness?

I won’t tell you not to attach any feeling to your goals because that’s going to be what helps you to achieve them. However, I do want to point out a flaw in doing so.

Attaching a feeling to your goals creates the statement, “I will be/feel _________ when I _______.”

The fundamental problem with that is that it implies that you can’t have that feeling until you achieve this goal. Furthermore, what does that mean if you don’t achieve the goal at all?

If we only work toward something because we want the outcome and won’t feel x until we have that outcome, then we may not aim high enough. We might only go for the safe bets which could rob us of our potential. Consider all the authors who submitted dozens if not hundreds of times to be rejected each time. Imagine if they gave up. We wouldn’t have Stephen King.

“In fact, there are no promises of fruition at all.”

This is why one of the most important things I do when I work with writers is ask them how they can bring the feeling that they associate with the completion of their goal into their every-day writing practice.

This leads me to the second part of the quote.

We Are Encouraged to Simply Look Deeply

“Instead, we are encouraged to simply look deeply at joy and sorrow, at laughing and crying, at hoping to fearing, at all that lives and dies.”

To put it simply, the best way for us to consider the end goal’s feelings and bring it to the present is to look at the journey of writing itself.

There are many writers out there who are writing to make a buck—and it can be done, with a lot of time and energy spent. These authors are committed to the process of producing books quickly. The quicker they produce books, the faster the sell, and the more money they make. Their goal is attached to the money.

However, not all of these authors have a love for what they do. In fact, they’re likely to hire out ghostwriters like me to do the job for them. They don’t love the process. As a result, they might experience burn-out.

You don’t have to be a rapid-release author to experience writer burn-out, either. It all has to do with where you put your intention and where you put your energy.

If you can remember what it is that you love about writing, what you love about your project, then you’ll enjoy the entire process. You’ll be writing for the love it rather than for the outcome. This takes the pressure off of you, and when the pressure is off, you’re more likely to reach your goal.

Gratitude & Tenderness

“We learn that what truly heals is gratitude and tenderness.”

I interpret “healing” in this context to mean the outcome-oriented mind. Not to say that it’s broken so much as it’s only partially complete. It knows what it wants, it knows how it wants to feel, but it’s forgetting the part where it needs to feel that way through the journey.

Grateful to be a Part of the Journey

Being grateful to be a part of the journey and regularly recognizing that is a truly beautiful step to take. I personally practice daily gratitude, writing a page of things I am grateful for every day. I highly recommend it. However, if that’s not your thing (I get it. It took me a long time to get to practicing gratitude in this way), being thankful that you have the ability to spend time on what you love, and recognizing that ability every day is enough.

This gratitude can help you to cherish where you are now and the moments you spend trying to get words to the page, trying to edit and re-work your piece so it makes sense, or even drafting those query letters.

So many people in the world have a dream to do what they love. And so few actually take the time to work toward actually making it happen. I’ve read statistics (though not verified) that say 80% of people say they want to write a book. Only 1% of that 80% actually complete a book. Something like that, anyway. If that statistic is right, that means that only 1 person out of every 125 people who say they want to write a book ever actually finishes one.

Approaching Tenderness

How does one go about approaching tenderness?

There is a dark comedy British show called Uncle. The main character, Andy is quitting smoking and all forms of drugs and alcohol, and when people start to get on his nerves, he yells “I said I’m feeling tender today!”

Being tender is being sensitive, though not in a negative way. It’s being open to what is being revealed internally and externally. It’s acknowledging feelings that arise and sitting with them. It’s noticing bursts of energy. It’s also being aware of the feelings of those around you.

I personally am not a fan of the term “sensitive,” and like I mentioned, when I hear “tender,” all I can think of is Andy telling that he’s feeling tender before launching himself at someone. This doesn’t exactly instill a feeling of tranquility.

However, I choose to approach writing and my projects with curiosity.

Practicing Non-Attachment & Releasing Through Curiosity

The best way that I’ve found to approach goals is by practicing non-attachment through curiosity. You know what you’re working toward. You know what you want to achieve, but you do so through curiosity.

Now, this is complete curiosity. This does start with the aim to answer a question, but with complete openness to what might be discovered. For example, the question might be what would happen if you tried to write a book, or it might be the question you hope to explore in the content of your piece.

When we take the approach of achieving our goal through curiosity, we must ensure that we aren’t driving toward a specific answer.

Releasing Parallels in the Law of Attraction

This is a common practice in the Law of Attraction: you set your intention which is more of a feeling or status rather than a specific number or object (contrary to what the teachings of the Secret might say), and you approach it with openness. You don’t know how you’re going to achieve it, but you open yourself up to the journey that will take you there. If, for example, your goal is financial freedom, you don’t set a ridged path to it and stick to it no matter what. I personally hoped to get to financial freedom through tarot, and instead it was through writing coaching and ghost writing that I found my independence. My flexibility to finding my way to financial independence is what got me to where I am today, not sticking to a rigid schedule and plan that burnt me out after six months (true story).

I kept the goal, I opened myself up to possibility, and through that, I found a tribe of tarot-centered writers who were looking for coaching. The same month, I found people looking for ghost writers for their series. In ten months, I went from barely finding enough work to cover the bills to being completely financially independent by being open to my options, keeping the goal in mind, and following what felt good at the time.

Curiosity in Writing

Keeping your curiosity in your writing practice will keep you interested in what you do. The goal is there, but you don’t know what’s around the corner when it comes to your actual writing because you’re not looking at the next step, you’re looking at what’s happening now, right in front of you.

True curiosity is what leads to discoveries.

Consider science. Consider the contemplation of theories for the sake of knowledge versus the attempt to try and discover a specific thing. When a lab is funded to find out x, then all of their experiments are designed to find x. However, when a lab is set on seeing what possibilities are to be found in the realm of exploring the element y, then they are open to possibilities. It widens the scope, and in the process, they might also find out x.

Okay, I know that’s not quite how science goes, but you get the picture.

Your writing is the same way. Whether you’re setting an outline or pantsing it, keeping yourself open to curiosity will make the process more fun, and you might discover a new path that you hadn’t anticipated.

Setting and Releasing Goals

So what is the take away from all of this? Goals are important, however, they aren’t the end-all and be-all. There is more than just setting the goal and sticking to it. You need to be able to release the goal as well. You know what you’re aiming for, but when you release the goal, you’re releasing your expectation of the outcome. When you do that, then

  • you enjoy the process more
  • you open your writing to more creativity
  • you open yourself up to more enjoyment
  • and most importantly, you open yourself up to growth.

Your Homework

Your homework has two parts to it: the first part is journaling-related (because inner growth comes from inner exploration!) and the second part is to start a new project. I’ll get to that in a minute though.

Journaling Questions

Spend some time writing about the goals you set and how they make you feel. Danielle LaPorte, in her book, Desire Mapping, which is all about setting and achieving goals, writes about how she absolutely hates goals. She doesn’t do well with them because they feel like pressure to her. I, personally, most of the time, am the opposite. I do well with goals.

The first thing I want you to do is explore your goals and how you feel about them.

  • Do you have too many?
  • Are they too intense?
  • Do they inspire you?
  • Do they make you feel restricted?

After you’ve spent some time with these questions, consider and journal on the following questions:

  1. What do I expect from my writing?
  2. What do I love about the process of writing?
  3. What do I love about what I’m working on right now?
  4. What emotions do I have attached to my goals?
  5. How can I bring those emotions forward so I can experience them now?

Once you have a good understanding of this, then I want you to move on to the second part of your homework assignment.

A New Project

Develop a new project. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be to write a series of ten poems, to write a piece of flash fiction or a short story. Or it can be your next epic fantasies series of eight books. Whatever you like.

However, I want you to approach it in this order:

  1. What do you want to achieve with this new project? (to finish it? To answer a question? To publish it? Etc.)
  2. Once you have your goal, release it. You know what it is. Don’t spend any more time focusing on it.
  3. Look at your project with complete curiosity. Ask yourself how you can remain curious through the entire process. How can you turn this project into an experiment of discovery?
  4. As you work on this project, notice yourself and how you interact with it. Is it different than usual? Is it the same? How do you feel?
  5. If you start to feel doubt or anxious about the project, sit for a moment and express gratitude that you have the time, energy, and space to work on that which you love.

If you don’t finish the project, that’s okay. This is a project of exploration and discovery. It’s to learn about you, how you interact with goals, how you interact with your writing, and how you best grow within yourself.

Let me know how this experiment goes in the comments.

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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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.

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!