Tarot Tuesdays: July 2022 Prompts

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You have the choice of following the suggested prompts, using the image itself as a visual prompt, and/or including elements of the description/interpretation. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook, to get prompts weekly as they are posted.

Three of Blades & Nine of Masks

Prompt: Use the cards as inspiration for two different characters or one at different points in the story. Use the images as visual prompts and/or include details from the interpretations below.

Fradella Adventure Tarot with Heroes and Villains of the iHero™ Universe

Three of Blades (The Tribunal) Heartbreak, separation, possibility of political strife or upheaval.

Nine of Masks (Maliferous) Material success, sensual pleasure, satisfaction with oneself

Hanged Man, Chariot, Death

Prompt: Create a villain by choosing one of the cards pictured. Use the demon and his attributes as inspiration for your villain’s evil deeds.

Pictured cards from the Occult Tarot

The Hanged Man (Bifrons) Teaches natural and planetary science. Lights corpse-lights above graves and moves bodies so the souls may be stolen.

The Chariot (Andras) Sower of Discord, slayer of men.

Death (Lucifer) Provides liberation and illumination. Incites jealousy and envy.

Eight of Cups & Three of Cups

Prompt: Use the two cards as the starting and ending point for a story, poem, etc. Use the images as a visual prompt alone or include details from the interpretations included below.

Pictured cards from the Modern Witch Tarot Deck

Eight of Cups: Deserting an enterprise, undertaking or previous concerns; giving joy, mildness, timidity, honor, modesty.

Three of Cups: The conclusion of any matter in plenty, perfection and merriment; happy issue, victory, fulfillment, solace, healing.

Ace of Wands

Pictured card from the Crow Tarot

Prompt: Use the pictured card as a visual prompt. Draw from the associated meanings included below if you need additional inspiration.

Creation, invention, enterprise, money, inheritance, fortune, business opportunity, initiative taken.

If you enjoyed these prompts why not check out the rest of my Tarot Tuesday offerings.

NaNoWriMo 2021 Final Update

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So here we are on the final day of November. I did not reach 50,000 words. I didn’t really even get close. But I did write every day except one, I took Thanksgiving Day off. That is way more of an important win than how many words I wrote. Because honestly, I’m not sure how many of those words are actually useful. I started the month without a real story in mind. I had hoped in expanding on the drafts I already had, one might start emerging. That did not happen, and I think I’m more confused now than when I started. Now I’ve got even more fragments, random scenes, and character background and less idea of the story I want for these characters. But I’d rather not dwell on the downsides.

There is a much bigger bright side. I managed the longest daily writing streak I’ve had in I don’t even know how long. The other major outcome of this month, has been a better sense of how to structure my days and schedule my writing time. Since I left my job earlier this year, I haven’t been very good at sticking with a routine or daily schedule. I’ve been switching it up often trying to figure out what works best. I finally realized that if I want to write every day, I think I do, it’s best to stick with the same time every day. I also concluded that it’s best to get my writing done in the morning. The days I had afternoon write-ins scheduled, it was easy to lose track of time in the morning and end up wasting time instead of working on something else. So yeah, a month well spent. I’ll just share a few stats to finish things off.

  • Total word count 30, 883
  • Highest daily wordcount 2,052
  • Daily writing streak 24 days
  • Average daily word count 1,028

NaNoWriMo 2021 Week 3

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Week three went about as good as I expected, which wasn’t great. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing. I mean like literally, I still don’t really have a story. I’m working with a vague idea and couple of characters. I thought working with workshop drafts would have inspired some new ideas, but not so much. I expanded on a few of them, but they weren’t as productive as I thought they’d be. This week I had to start from scratch and it was an uphill battle all week.

I had the added bonus of feeling kind of sick all week. Nothing major just a little congestion but also feeling really run down. Didn’t get much of anything done all week. I still managed to write everyday, which at this point is a bigger goal for me than my wordcount. I’ve completely given up on catching up and reaching the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month. I’m going to keep it up though. I lost of a bit of momentum, but I feel like writing everyday has had an effect on my productivity. I hope to keep it up after this month.

NaNoWriMo 2021–Week 2

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The Project

This year’s project revolves around Dante, a character I’ve been writing about for quite a few years. (Check out her fictional blog) I haven’t posted to the blog in some time, but she’s still very much in my head. For a while every workshop prompt would end up being about her or somebody in her world. So I have all these bits and pieces that I decided I would type up, finish, expand, whatever. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m doing. I don’t really have a story in mind yet, just barely the tiniest spark of an idea. But I decided to go with it any.

Week 2 Writing

So far it’s been pretty easy, mostly I’m just typing up handwritten drafts. As I go along I’m adding extra little bits and expanding or finished incomplete scenes. I’ve still been running behind on my daily wordcount. Hosting the write-ins have been extremely helpful, days I really didn’t feel like writing, I pretty much had no choice. While I didn’t want to overwhelm myself, it might have been a good idea not to skip days. It pretty obvious the days without write-ins I’m a whole lot less productive. Wednesdays seem to be the worst day, two weeks in a row, I only managed a few hundred words. I’m trying not to stress too much on it. Instead I’m focusing on the achievement of writing everyday. That a big win to celebrate no matter what my actual output is. I knew this would be a big challenge, especially since I’m not solely dedicated to the NaNo project.

This week I finished all of the drafts I had. Now I am working completely from scratch. So, we’ll see how I progress going forward. Today is officially the halfway point and I’m at 19086 words, my average words per day is 1272 and I’m on track to finish by December 9th.

Participating in NaNoWriMo 2021

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I attempted NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2015. I finished my story but was still short about 5,000 words. For me that was accomplishment enough. It was the closest I got to the 50,000 word goal for the next several years. Then last year, I finally won working on memoir writing instead of a novel. I’m still working on editing, rewriting and organizing a workable draft. But memoir writing can be pretty heavy. So I decided to lighten things up by working on some fiction for NaNoWriMo. My goal is to work on both at the same time, but we’ll see how it goes.

To help keep me on track I’ve decided to host some virtual write-ins. Something I started doing this past July for Camp NaNoWriMo. It helps to have company and to be obligated to show up to write. I have four of those scheduled throughout the week in addition to group writing sessions I already attend. It should be more than enough writing time to hit the goal, but my main issue is losing momentum on the project I’ve already been working on.

Week one

Usually the first couple of days or week I try to go beyond the daily word count. It helps to get ahead early, because I will likely loose steam at some point. I wasn’t able to manage it this week. In fact, I’ve been behind all week. Starting off the week with an average of 15000 words a day. Wednesday I barely managed 200 words. I don’t know if it’s the schedule, the change in weather, or just my body being weird, but I’ve been exhausted. I mean tired enough that by two in the afternoon I need a nap. I managed to pick up the pace later in the week and almost catch up. Saturday I even thought I might be back on track, but fell behind again on Sunday. I have a usual routine that includes being a lazy bum and binge watching a TV series. (This week it was Lock & Key.) I managed to get in about a thousand words first though.

In all I guess my first week wasn’t so bad. I’m happy with my progress, I wrote every day. I also managed to keep up with work on other projects I have going on. Maybe not as much as I would have liked but I’m not trying to overwhelm myself. Spent way too many years overworking myself just to burn out and give up on everything. Not doing it again. Well, I better be off to do some actual writing.

For more info and to register for upcoming write-ins, check out the Eventbrite page.

Praise Does Not Make a Writer Better

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Over the years I’ve taken many writing and English classes. I enjoyed most and did learn some stuff. But only one has ever had a major impact on me and drastically improved my writing. It was a creative writing workshop I took once I returned to school. For the first half of the semester I dreaded it. Once I befriended a classmate we commiserated regularly about how much of a hard ass the instructor was.  The first piece I handed in, he gave back to me refusing to grade it until it was properly proofread and edited. He once told her to completely scrap a piece she shared in class. Essentially he had high standards and was brutally honest when we fell short. It took a while to sink in but we eventually realized he wasn’t tough on us for the hell of it or because we were bad writers. Actually, quite the opposite was more likely.

He was hard on us because he knew we could do better. I eventually came to appreciate it and realized that it was exactly what I needed. Throughout school I always had basic grammar issues and struggled proofreading and editing my work. It was often filled with typos, missing words, and grammatical errors. I don’t remember a time I didn’t get something back filled with red marks. However, my grades were usually pretty good, teachers praised my writing and encouraged me. My first college writing class was a reality check, it was the first time those minor errors had a major affect on my grade. However, I was able to hand in revised papers for a better grade. Unfortunately, my proofreading skills did not improve, instead I relied on the professor to point out the issues in my writing. Despite many of the problems being basic grammar issues I didn’t understand, ie run-on and fragment sentences, she also encouraged me and complimented my writing skills.

The instructor for the workshop, was the first person that ever pushed me to improve. All the praise I had received over the years made me a lazy writer. I had a false sense of confidence and couldn’t see where or how to improve. He did not sugar coat things, he cared more about the writing than hurting my feelings. The last assignment of the semester was a one act play. That’s the one area of writing I never had any interest in so my I didn’t put much effort into it. I don’t remember the exactly what I said but it was some excuse for it not being better. He said, “No, it’s because you gave up.” It was the absolute truth and was better than any amount of praise I could ever get.

Have you ever received feedback that hurt your feelings but helped your writing?  I’d love to hear from other writers about who or what helped you improve your writing. Tell me about the teacher, mentor, etc. that helped you along the way in the comments below.

The Road So Far 2018

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It’s been way too long since a new post, and like forever since any updates to The Road So Far series. By now I have been living in Pennsylvania for over two years. Even after that it still seems so unreal to me. I attempted to dive right in and actually found a job just a month after moving, at a local department store for the holidays. Well it didn’t even last until Thanksgiving. Luckily I had savings and some extra cash due to a retroactive pay raise from my time at the college. So I managed to survive, financially at least. I may have lost my mind somewhere in the house during the winter though.

That’s the hardest part about getting used to living here, there is nothing to do. Even with working full-time now I can go absolutely mad of boredom sitting in the house, and until I start driving I wont have anywhere to go. Even then, it’s not what I’m used to.

Eventually, that first winter passed and I got my butt out of the house and moving. I started going on long walks and passed a temp agency with a posting about a clerical job. I ended up picking up a couple of hours a work in the temp agency office. Due to my impeccable my timing, just as the hours dwindled down, I started working at the local public library. I worked part-time until the end of the year when a fulltime slot opened up.

Things are good at the library, although there is a lot of down time and it’s easy to get bored. I also was disappointed in the lack of writing programs since before I started the job. So of course killing two birds with one stone I proposed holding a writing workshop. This past June I held my first one and have continued  monthly since. I can’t believe I get to lead my own workshop. Which I has gone a long way to help improve my motivation and mood in regards to writing. It’s only once a month and it’s rocky some meetings but it’s something I needed pretty badly.

I’ve been really struggling to get into a regular writing routine and finish up some old projects. I had a little success despite my lack of motivation, for last year’s OctPoWriMo I completed more poems than previous years. So far this year I missed a couple of days but am still doing pretty well. Last year’s attempt at NaNoWriMo, on the other hand was plain sad. I guess the time I would and should have spent writing was filled up instead with reading and–more than I care to admit–Netflix binging.

I think sometimes it’s what needed. A little bit of time, especially after a major change, to be easy on ourselves and figure out a new plan. I’ve been really thinking about my situation, my writing, the future and where the hell I go from here. Plus all the reading has made me so much smarter and well informed. (lol maybe) Anyway I think I might just be starting to pull it all together. In addition to my writing workshop, I will be hosting a program for NaNoWriMo. That should give me just that extra bit of motivation I need. I am really hoping to meet the 50,000 word goal and I think I can do it this year.

Generally, things seem to have turned around the past couple of months. I feel more motivated and have been working at ways to squeeze in small burst of writing on my downtime at work, lunch breaks and whenever possible. I scaled back the newsletter from monthly to quarterly; with the small amount of subscribers the amount of time and effort needed monthly just wasn’t worth it. I have ideas of how to build my list, speaking of that you can sign up here to receive the newsletters if you haven’t already.

I’ve been posting this years OctPoWriMo poems to Lex Poetry. Since I’m spending time on poetry, I’m working again on a collection I’d like to publish. Hoping to have a manuscript, at least in rough draft form by the end of the year. I know that’ll be here sooner than I think, but I’m working at it.

 

 

When a Prompt Just Isn’t Enough

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There’s no denying the usefulness of writing prompts. They work great as a quick warm up to get your creative juices flowing. I’ve use them to generate new ideas when I have no idea what to write. I can’t count how many of my stories and poems that started as a response to a prompt. Even if you already have a project in mind they can give you a starting point, which for many people that’s the hardest part.

I have a number of writing prompt books, but have started to find them pretty boring. They’re all pretty much the same and usually very simple. I find myself spending more time looking for a prompt than I do actually writing. Lately instead of simple books of prompts I’ve been going for ones that include more involved exercises. While they can include simple prompts they also include activities that are more interactive or push you to find inspiration in new and different places. I’ve listed a few of the books I’ve found especially helpful below.

The Writer’s Lab: A Place to Experiment with Fiction

At first look this doesn’t look like a book for adults, but when you’re getting creative age doesn’t matter. I think this book would be incredible for people of all ages. It includes a range of different exercises, and some of them seem a little childish, but it’s an absolute gem when you want to get the creative juices flowing. They’re fun, different and get you thinking in different ways. I highly recommend it.

 


Now Write!: Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers

This is just one in the series of Write Now books, all focused on particular genres. I love the way this book is set up. It’s broken up into sections focusing on different aspects of the writing process. The essays offer advice and lessons on a specific concept and an exercise that puts it to use.

 

The Artist’s Way

So this isn’t exactly a book of writing exercises, it’s not even focused on writing, rather it’s focused on expanding creativity. I include it because the exercises and writing tasks help open your mind to finding inspiration in new and different places. It might not directly lead to any new writing but the affirmations and reflective tasks can cause an attitude shift making it easier to focus on projects your already working on.

 

These are just a few I thought of immediately. I’ll update or post a longer list sometime soon.

If Rushdie Can Do It So Can I

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I was first introduced to Salmon Rushdie’s writing in a college course where I read Midnight’s Children. I was immediately a fan. Since then I’ve read several more of his books and attended readings and speaking engagements. I’ve always believed the old adage of learning how to write by reading. But it always felt like a very general concept until I started reading Rushdie. I feel like I’ve learned more casually reading his work than I ever did studying other writers in depth in school. I will likely go on to write more about the things I’ve learned from him and his writing. For now, I want to discuss one of the simplest things that has impacted my writing.

One of the things I’ve noticed about Rushdie’s writing is how much he includes from his own life in his fiction. Some of these things are very clear, like basing a major character in Fury on his then-wife Padma Lakshimi. But other’s I only realized after reading his memoir, Joseph Anton. Reading it I found several instances of people, events, and even dialogue that was very similar, if not exactly the same, to what I had read in his fiction. For example, when he relates telling his father he is going to be a writer. Clearly disappointed his father says, “What am I going to tell my friends?” The same reaction his character’s father in The Satanic Verses, to his career choice.

There are many more examples, he specifically points out experiences and the stories inspired by them, and characters based on those close to him.  He seems to have no problem using his life and those around him as source material for his writing. This is something I have always struggled with. I never felt right including people or events from my life in my writing and avoided it at all costs. Part of it was insecurity, I don’t even like writing about myself in nonfiction. But really it was self-doubt about my ability as a writer. It seems too easy to fictionalize elements of my life and take myself seriously as a writer. I also worried about what other people would think. Like I wouldn’t or couldn’t be considered a good writer if I couldn’t come up with everything in a story from imagination.

It seems like a silly thing to think now. Who exactly would even know how much of what I wrote was real or made up. Well, I guess my family and friends, but how many of them are even reading my writing anyway. Inspired by Rushdie I’ve learned to let go of these irrational fears. There is no reason I can’t include elements from my life in my writing. It’s more than likely to improve my writing if I draw from real-world experiences and people. And I have had some experiences that would make some pretty interesting stories.

The Road So Far: Pennsylvania 2017

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Today makes it’s exactly five months since my move. I like it so far but it’s a big adjustment. I’m still not even used to the idea of not living in New York City. I’m glad to be out but do miss it, mainly because there isn’t much to do up here. The week of Thanksgiving I visited for a couple of days, hadn’t been gone long and it felt like I’d never left. With the chaos of the move followed by the holidays I’m finding real hard get back on track. Most of my time’s been spent getting to know the area, looking for a job and just getting settled in.

I let myself take it easy, trying to get my office together and working out new plans for my blogs, newsletter and Etsy shop. I’ve been slowly forcing myself to get back to writing, but my lack of concentration has made it very difficult. I did manage to write and publish a few new blog posts,  in addition to the last two months newsletters. I’ve been stuck editing (actually rewriting) my novel for a couple of months now, barely making it to chapter five. Between the frustration and lack of structure to my days, I feel like I wasted a lot of time watching TV, playing games online and basically sulking around trying to figure out what to do with myself.

I’ve been working on different strategies and practices to boost my motivation and creativity.  I have small library of books on writing with prompts and exercises I’ve tried working with. Also started reading The Artist’s Way again, before the move I got about half way through. I wasn’t really putting much effort into the exercises and tasks. I really like the advice and approach of letting yourself explore your creativity without judgement. That’s not something that comes easy to me and often beat myself up or give up when I can’t meet my standards. It’s been helpful as I start experimenting with other creative art forms.

I just hope that soon things will start falling into place. It’s no surprise that the move would cause so much disruption. I just didn’t think I’d be working at a snails pace to get back on track. At this point all I can do is keep pushing myself.