Writing Tool – Meditation

This week I am bringing you another writing tool. This isn’t something you have to buy, and it doesn’t require a lot of thinking. In fact, it requires no thinking. The less thinking the better!

Our writing tool this week is meditation. By now you should have heard about how amazing meditation is for your health. Indeed, it can reduce anxiety, stress, blood pressure, and it can increase productivity and improve relationships.

Today we are going to discuss how meditation can help you become a better and more authentic writer. Meditation helps the writer to connect with their true self, which ties back into my preaching on writing your truth.

Meditation creates a blank slate for your mind. It clears out blocks that have been keeping your words inside. It pops the cork out of your wine bottle of inspiration, so to speak. If you don’t believe me, the next time you find yourself staring at a blank page for hours on end, go meditate for ten minutes. Go back to your work, and you will find that the words that were once lost are now flowing like a stream of water.

You’ll find that you aren’t preoccupied with the typos that you write or the words you are saying. You will know that you can fix that later on. You will simply be focused on getting the story out on paper. Once it’s out, you can do anything you want with it.

Writing has the power to become meditation, as well. When you get lost in the words and forget everything around you. Once you finish that last sentence and your mind returns to the world, you may feel this fog lifting. You may even feel a bit confused or disoriented like you just wrote up from a nap.

Now, meditation can be intimidating to some. Thinking about sitting for several minutes not thinking about anything can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are millions of different resources online to help you get started meditating. There are even more videos that you can watch on YouTube that will guide you through the meditation. Guided meditations are my personal favorite. I find it easier to clear my mind when I have a voice or music in my head. It keeps me from getting distracted. That’s not to say I don’t find my mind wandering, or my cat rubbing my face, but you learn how to move past that with practice.

To help you out, I’m going to share a few of my favorite guided meditation videos.

Meet Your Muse: This is a short ten-minute meditation that will help unlock your muse.

Writer’s Block: This is 30-minute meditation that will help you work through your writer’s block.

Unblocking Creative Flow: This is 21-minute meditation that helps to get your creativity freely flowing.

Expanding Creativity: This is a ten-minute meditation that will help you to get your creativity flowing. It works much like the last one, but it is shorter when you don’t have as much time.

Get Unstuck: This is 13-meditation to help to get you out of your creativity funk and getting the words flowing again.

There are many more, but these should help you get started. Making mediation part of your regular everyday routine will help you in a million different ways.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

“And there, hidden amongst the pages was a new world, waiting to be discovered.” ~ Alexandra Domelle

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The Golden North Hotel – Alaska

This week we are traveling all the way to Alaska, Skagway, Alaska.

In 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon and this set of the Klondike Gold Rush. Around 100,000 prospectors ran to this territory with the hopes of striking it rich. A lot of these people traveled to the Skagway area of what would become Alaska. This area provided them with a more direct route to the gold.

In 1897, the population of Skagway was 700. In 1898, it boomed to around 10,000. This made the town Alaska’s largest city, but this was short lived and it was back down to 1800 in two years. The influx of people created problems like lawlessness, disease, chaos, and death. This created the perfect time for ghost stories.

In 1898, the Golden North Hotel was built. This was during the height of the gold rush and served as a place for 1000s of prospectors to stop for refreshments and rest each week. It was these people that would end up creating this ghost story. Our tale begins with the prospector lovingly known as Klondike Ike who traveled to this lovely little town with his fiance Mary. Mary stayed in room 23 of this hotel while Ike took the 500-mile journey to find gold.

There are a few variations of this story from this point on. The first says Mary fell ill with pneumonia. Another said she became distraught with worry when Ike didn’t return when he was supposed to and locked herself away in her room. The third says that she hid away because she ended up getting involved with some ruffians. Whichever is true, nobody really knows. No matter how the story really went, Mary died while she was waiting for Ike to return from his adventures. There are some versions that said the hotel staff broke down the door to her room, finding her dead in the dress she was going to wear to her wedding.

Believe she continues to haunt this hotel. The stories from those who say they have seen “Scary Mary” vary widely. There are some who say they have seen a spectral woman roaming around the hotel, or sitting in her room waiting for fiances return. Others say they have heard strange noises or felt sudden breezes of cold air. Some people who stayed in room 23 said they woke up in the middle of the night feeling like they were choking.

There is yet another ghostly event that is said to have happened at the Golden North in room 14. The staff and guests have said they’ve seen mysterious lights that look like sparkles or twinkles, and others call them orbs. Where these lights come from is not known, but they aren’t threatening.

The hotel itself closed in 2002, but the building and sign still remain. Unfortunately, curious ghost hunters can no longer visit the rooms to try and experience their history. The floor plan says that room 23 was on the third floor in the northwest corner. As of today, the building is being used by Frontier Excursions & Adventures.

 

Comedic Inspiration – 5 Tips

This week we are going to look at some ways to find inspiration for comedy. I haven’t written a lot of comedy stories myself, but I say dumb things and people laugh, so there’s that.

Comedy isn’t something that should be overanalyzed. You don’t have to look deep into the human psyche to figure out what makes them tick in order to make them laugh. In fact, the less you try, the better chance you have of making a person laugh, or at least chuckle.

Comedy is a double-edged sword, though. You could create something that makes the first 100 readers pee their pants, and then the next reader could find it as dull as a spoon. But that’s just the horrors of writing.

Let’s look at five tips to help you find some inspiration to write that funny story:

  • People Watch

Some of the best inspiration a person can find is within the lives of others. Head to the mall or park and watch people around you for a bit. See if anything fun jumps out at you that is so hilarious that you have to write about it.

  • Think About Your Day

Take a moment to think about the things you did throughout the day. Find something that you found funny and write about it. Maybe one of your co-workers said or did something funny. Maybe you tripped walking up the stairs. You never know where inspiration may strike. Another option would be to keep a journal and write down things as they happen so that you don’t run the risk of forgetting them.

  • Look at Your Phone Contacts

Scroll through the contacts on your phone and see if anybody on the list reminds you of something funny that has happened to you. You can also take a scroll through your social media friends to see if anything shakes some funny cobwebs loose.

  • Look at Trending Hashtags

Jump on Twitter or Instagram and take a look at some trending hashtags. They may be able to spark some inspiration. If they don’t, make them. Take one of the hashtags, whether or not it is funny, and make it funny. It may not be a story that you want to share, but it can get the creative juices flowing.

  • Look at Family Photos

Look through some old photo albums to see if you can find some comedic inspiration. I’m sure if you dig far enough back, you are going to find somebody wearing a plaid pair of pants or somebody with a beehive hairdo. You never know what you are going to find in a photo album. You can also pick out your favorite picture and turn it into a story. This should help to shake some other ideas loose as well.

That’s it for the tips. Try out some, or all, of these tips and see what you can come up with in the funny story department. Who knows, maybe you might create the next great American novel.

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I’ll take A Midsummer Night’s Dreamover Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.”
― Stephen King

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Being True to You

I’ve got another post for you about writing your truth. I told you I had a lot to say about this.

In past posts, I have talked about how to write your truth. Today’s post isn’t going to be much of a how-to. I have something on my chest that I want to share. It was something that hit me when I was getting information together for a book I was ghostwriting.

I freelance write through a company. I ghostwrite books. Part of that requires me to do research on topics because most of what I write is non-fiction books. It’s through this research that I found so many books on Amazon that you can tell didn’t come from a person’s truth.

This post doesn’t have to with my ghostwriting or anything to do with that sort of thing.

What I want to talk about is the sheer number of books available on Amazon that are written for the sole purpose of making money.

Now, you may be wondering how I can tell that there are so many books on Amazon that aren’t written from a person’s truth. I’ll tell you, but first I want you to do something.

Head over to Amazon and pull up a listing of books. More specifically self-help books; weight loss, exercise, mental health, those sorts of things. Now, pull up a few and click on the preview book. Glance through to see what you can glean from it and take a look at the reviews and other information about the book.

You’ll probably start to notice that some books just have a better feel to them than others. There are some that feel like they could actually help you, while others are just ‘eh.’

Now, I don’t know what is in the heart of an author when they write a book, but what I do know is that if they wrote from their truth, from a need to help people or share something, you can feel it in their writing. It comes off as much more honest that fluff writing.

You don’t have to just write novels in order to write your truth. You can write your truth in non-fiction books as well. It means you are sharing truths about you and your passion in order to help somebody else. And this statement is true for fiction and non-fiction because I believe fiction can help people as well.

So many of the books you see on Amazon are books that have been written and published just for the purpose of making money. They weren’t created from a passion deep within somebody. They didn’t come from the heart.

The problem is, though, that all of these books that weren’t written in truth are covering up the books that are written truth. Speaking as an Indie author, there are so many other Indie authors out there that write their truth and have amazing stories to tell through novels and self-help books that get pushed underneath all of these other books that don’t have any heart in them.

I don’t know how these truthless books become successful. (I have my thoughts, but I will keep them to myself.) All I know is, we need to create more books that have heart and truth in them. We need more books in the world that tell stories that help people and entertain people for the sole purpose of helping and entertaining.

There are enough snake oil salesmen in the world. Those of us who truly have a story to tell, who want to share our truth, need to band together and share with the world what it means to love what you do and to love doing it no matter what you get back.

I know there is nothing that can be done about these filler books on Amazon and other sites. They are always going to be there and more will continue to be published. It’s easier today now than it was 20 years ago. You don’t need an agent or a publisher anymore. I’m not trying to start a revolution or what have you to stop these books from being published.

I am here to help and urge those who do have a heartfelt story to share, to share it.

If you are still unsure about what it means to write your truth, you can use these books to help you.

Because trust me, you can tell the difference when you read a book when it has been written from the heart, no matter the genre.

I think I’ll step down from my soapbox for now. I’ve said what I came here to say.

I hope I have helped you just a little bit more when it comes to writing your truth.

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” – Carl Rogers

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

Tarot for Writer’s Block

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more tarot spreads for writing. Last week we covered a 9 card spread for a short story. Today we will look at a plot spread to help the writer with the elusive writer’s block.

There are two parts to this spread. First, shuffle your cards until you feel you have shuffled enough. Then lay out three cards according to the picture.

writer's block 1

This first spread is about you and your writer’s block.

AS: This card is your significator card. This card represents you in this moment of stagnation.

Card 1: This card is telling you what is causing your stagnation or your writer’s block. This is the reason why you are having problems writing.

Card 2: This card tells you what you can do to work through your writer’s block. This is meant to help you overcome the problem so that you can continue to write.

Now, place these cards back into the deck, all three of them, and reshuffle your tarot deck. Once you feel you have shuffled enough, you will deal out the cards as follows.

writer's block 2

Card 1: This card tells you about your protagonist, what they are like, how they look, act, job, and so on.

PS: This is the significator for the protagonist. This tells you about a person or a situation that is influencing your protagonist. You can pull more than one PS card if you would like.

Card 2: This card tells you about your antagonist, what they are like, how they look, act, job, and so on.

AS: This is the significator for the antagonist. This tells you about a person or a situation that is influencing your protagonist. You can also pull more AS cards if you want to.

Card 3: This card tells you about the conflict between the two characters, the background, and what is going on.

Card 4: This card tells you about the situation you left the characters in last. This gives you a sort of starting point.

Card 5: This card provides you with a possible solution to the problem and story. This could be your ending or a new beginning.

This is a great way to work through writer’s block, especially the first three card spread. If you are working on multiple projects, you can do a different reading for each to figure out what the stagnation is for each project.

Please, on these tarot spread blogs, share the stories that spread has been able to help you with.

“Books are like Tarot decks. They provide answers and guidance but more importantly, they are doorways and portals to the otherworld and the imagination. They leave their imprint and keep whispering to us long after we close the pages or shuffle the deck.”
― Sasha Graham, Tarot Fundamentals

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. To celebrate the start of spring, get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles ebook for free for a limited time.

Short Story Tarot Spread

Welcome back!

It has been a bit since I wrote a blog about using tarot for writing. We’ve done a few easy spreads to help create a quite plot outline and to discover traits about our characters. Today we will do a tarot spread to help you write a short story.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you read my first to blogs and check out my videos about tarot for writing:

https://fahuffman.com/2018/10/29/4-tarot-writing-plots/

https://fahuffman.com/2018/10/02/tarot-as-a-writing-aid/

In other news, let’s get down to what we really came here for.

While I really want to talk about the Celtic Cross spread, it is a more advanced spread. Instead of jumping into something that might be difficult to use, I figured I would cover some easier spreads first. Today, we are going to look at an easy 9 card spread to help to create a short story.

Untitled

To start you spread, shuffle you tarot cards until you feel like that they have been shuffled enough. While you are shuffle, think about the reason why you are shuffling. Let the cards and the Universe know that you want to get a layout for a short story.

Then lay each of the cards out in the pattern shown above. You can place them face down and flip each over as you get to it, or you can lay it out face up, whichever works best for you.

Card 1: This card tells you who your narrator is. This could mean anything that you want it to be. Maybe you want to know if it’s an omniscient being is watching the story unfold or it could be the protagonist. Who knows, it could be the antagonist.

Card 2: This card tells you the outer persona of your protagonist. This is how they present themselves to the world. This may not correlate with how they truly feel.

Card 3: This card tells you the inner persona of your protagonist. This is how they actually feel. This is their inside and true self.

Card 4: This card tells you how the story will start. This is your beginning.

Card 5: This card tells you about the middle of the story. This is the middle.

Card 6: This card tells you how the story will end.

Card 7 & 8: These cards tell you about two minor characters. You can also pull more cards if you want more minor characters. These characters can end up helping or hindering your protagonist.

Card 9: This card tells you about the main theme of the story.

That’s it. The hardest part is interpreting the cards, but it doesn’t have to be. Practice interpreting the cards before you ever do you first spread. (Easier said than done)

Most tarot cards come with a book that explains the cards, but you can also find information online. The more you do these spreads the easier they will become.

“It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance.”
― Charles Williams

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

How to Embrace Vulnerability and Write Your Truth

We’ve spoken about writing your truth before. As you have probably noticed, it can get very convoluted as to what it really means to write your truth. The reason for that is because everybody has their own truth.

Today we are going to look at vulnerability, which I believe is the key to writing your truth. If you can bare your emotions on the page, then conveying a truth is going to be very hard to do.

Emotions play a huge role in writing. Not only in the act of writing a story, but in everything that surrounds it; publishing it, sharing it, getting feedback, everything.

I would say that I have only been a true writer for a year. While I have been writing for most of my life, it was only last year that I buckled down and chose this as my life. Last year was when I shared my writing for other people to read. Last year was when I put myself out there to be loved or rejected. Last year I experienced more emotions than ever before. In fact, it feels like it has been longer than a year.

When I first started this blog I said I was going to go the traditional route when it came to publishing my books. I was going to an agent and all that, but I switched to self-publishing. One, because I am a bit impatient. Two, I wanted to get my book out there for people now. That doesn’t mean I have given up hope on getting an agent, it just means I’m doing things on my own for now. Emotions played a huge role in this.

There are weeks where I feel confident and excited. Then I will have doubts and thinking about a back-up plan. But I know in my heart of hearts, writing is the only career that is going to make me happy. (That and acting, but let’s not get started on that tangent.)

The reason I am sharing this is that, as a writer, you can’t be afraid of emotions. I would hazard a guess that most writers are introverts. We don’t do well speaking out emotions out loud, thus we write them. So, if writing is how we express our emotions as introverts, how can we express our self if we don’t show vulnerability.

But What Will Others Think?

This is probably the biggest roadblock in showing vulnerability through writing. Everybody is worried about being judged. I could say, “get over it,” but that’s rude and annoying. You can’t just simply get over things. Everybody has to work through their own problems in their own time. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work through them faster, but you still have to work through them on your own.

Too often people write off these types of issues as just being in your head. They don’t think there is a real issue. But fears are fears. They are all important and everybody has the right to be afraid of things. The important thing is that you figure out what those fears and work through them so they don’t hold you back in life.

I will dedicate another post on working through these types of issues. For now, let’s look at some of the best ways to show vulnerability in your writing.

Be Open

The key to showing vulnerability is to be open. You can write a one-sided story. Even children’s books have a good side and a bad side. You can’t have light without the darkness. There is no good without the bad. A day always has a night.

When you write with openness, you allow the story to guide you. It will naturally show you where it needs to go. I don’t know how many times my outline has changed once I started writing the story because what I had planned didn’t feel right once it was put on paper.

Trust

Writing with openness and vulnerability means that you trust the process of writing. If you can’t trust the process, you will end up holding yourself back and censoring yourself. I’ve already talked about how censoring yourself is bad for writing your truth. You have to trust that the story is going to lead you to where it needs to go.

This could mean that characters you hadn’t planned on killing are going to die. Your story could plummet to depths you never imagined, but as you work your way back out, your story is going to be better for it. Trust is hard, but it’s what makes for a good story.

DO NOT CENSOR

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you can’t write your truth and censor yourself. This is also one of those fine lines. There is a way you can go too far with your writing where it can end up causing a lot of backlash. This, in my opinion, is when you write with the purpose of being mean and hateful. If this is you purpose going into a book, do us all a favor and stop. There is enough hate already, there is no need for any more.

With that said, you can write without censorship and not be mean and hateful. If your story tells you that it needs something that many people would consider taboo, put it in there. It will be a better story for it. It can be written in a tasteful manner as well.

A big taboo subject that people are sometimes afraid of touching on is abuse. This could be domestic, sexual, what have you. It’s a touchy subject, but if stories about these things aren’t shared, then nobody is going to learn about them. People who aren’t afraid to write about these things are people who help to change the world for the better. The same goes for injustice as well.

These three tips are heavy subjects, and I understand that. Being vulnerable isn’t something anybody likes feeling. But it is a fact of life. If you don’t feel vulnerable at some point in the writing process, then you need to take a step back and see where you are holding back. Be vulnerable and change the world with your writing.

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” – Wally Lamb

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.