Writing Prompt: The Haunted

Every weekend, I create Writing prompts via my Tarot cards. Since this blog has been centered around writing, writers, and higher education, I thought this would be a good place to share this.

You can read all about the writing prompt by following the link after the picture!

This is just the basic 2-Card Writing Prompt today, using a starting situation for Card 1 and a problem, which is Card 2. If you’re here for the first time, I usually do what is called the First Operation to determine the context or… The post Writing Prompt: The Haunted appeared first on Karma Star…

via Writing Prompt: The Haunted — Karma Star Tarot

Lessons Learned from Creating a Writing Challenge

As many of you writers out there who read my blog may know, April was the first 2019 CampNaNoWriMo, a preparation ‘bootcamp’ for November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Because I really believe that the Tarot is a brilliant tool for writing and writers that isn’t utilized nearly enough, I created a challenge around CampNaNoWriMo. I called it the #30DayTarotWritingChallenge. The idea was that each day I would create a Tarot spread for participants to utilize during their writing process. It would correspond to novel structure, character development, world-building, etc.

So 30 days to write a novel, 30 tarot spreads to help the process.

Here’s what I learned in doing this.

1. Plan Ahead

Be sure to map out what you plan to do all the way to the end. Having the beginning is great, but it’s a killer once you get past those first few posts and you realized you didn’t plan past them.

I had actually been thinking of doing a podcast around this idea for a while, and then–all of a sudden–I realized it was March 29th, and that April was just around the corner. I thought–hey, I could do this instead!

With this flash of inspiration, I thought all of about 3 posts ahead and that was it.

This left me struggling along the way to create a plan for the full 30 days along the way, as well as discovering structure as stumbled into the month of April.

2. Prep Ahead

Get as many posts at the very minimum outlined ahead of time. Make it as easy on your future self as possible. If you can, try and get at least 10 posts written ahead of time (if your challenge is meant to go on for long enough, that is). You’ll thank yourself later.

Along with planning ahead, I really needed to prep ahead. Because Tarot spreads are visual, I had to create images to go along with each post. With each Tarot spread came an image that I also needed to be fit for Instagram and Pintrest. In some cases, I made one for each.

While I might have had a good grasp on the content I was creating and what I wanted the spread to cover, it was taking me another hour, at least, to create the image as well. Each post was taking upward of 2.5 hours (not inlcuding the ‘My Accountability’ section, which I’ll get to later). This is fine except that I had other posts that are pre-promised to go on each day, totally three posts a day.

This was really eating up my time.

3. Set Deadlines

It’s really easy to forget or get distracted from a goal if you don’t have deadlines. I found that when I knew that I had a time that I had to meet, I was far more likely to get that post ready and done at that time.

That beings said, remember that no one else actually knows your deadline. I mean, if they’re paying attention and you have a huge following, they might know that your challenge will be posted at 12:20 sharp, but the majority of people aren’t going to clock onto that. So, it’s cool if you’re like, seven minutes late (but eight minutes is really pushing it).

4. Don’t Get Too Ambitious

Make sure that you can fulfil your promise to your audience. Dreaming big is excellent, and never quash that, but make sure you have the ability to do everything you’d like to do in one challenge.

Along side promising to provide these daily Tarot spreads (and having to market them and have them posted by 9:30 every morning so that morning people could get up, do the spread and write–I’m considerate like that), I also made the promise to do the spreads myself and post the results.


Never mind writing the actual post, it was taking an additional 45 minutes to write out my own spread and post that along with the entry. So, for example, on my World-Building Spread, I was doing the reading and writing how I was going to incorporate it into my story. I had a First Scene Spread where I mapped out my first scene with the Tarot. I had a spread to decide Theme, and so on.

This is fine. I truly believe that I could make this work. Except that I didn’t have time to write my project and create a story along side of this challenge. So that sort of fell apart.

Note: Since finishing the challenge, I’ve started a completely different project, though using this challenge, and it’s worked a treat–having time makes all the difference!

5. But Seriously, Plan Ahead–Research

Give yourself enough time to prepare and plan. Rushing things at the last minute is going to show, unless you’ve got some amazing juice, in which case–market that. I will back you.

My biggest mistake was that I had the idea, thought I could just figure it out as I went, and just dove into it. It resulted in getting up at 5 in the morning to write and have the post ready the day of, and a lot of that time spent was researching what it was I needed to cover that I hadn’t yet.

Part of this too is making a list of your weak points, and preparing for them. I thought that I knew story structure enough to write 30 posts related to it. Turns out I didn’t. So, there was a lot of reading I had to do.

6. Forgive Yourself

Setting a challenge–especially a long challenge (as in more than five days) is really difficult. I personally didn’t realize how difficult it was until I did it. There were days when I didn’t meet my deadline time. There was one day when I let my boss take me out to an open mic night and had a hangover so bad my stomach was bleeding (I did zero posts that day).

Sickness happens. Situations happen. Life happens. And these happenings will delay you.

Forgive yourself when it happens. No one is perfect, and while you might get held to a high standard because your website is awesome, people still recognize that they’re following a person, and that people are not perfect. So forgive yourself, because I promise they will forgive you.

7. Celebrate

When you’re done–give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate. It is not an easy feat, and once you complete it, you should really feel proud of yourself. You’ve done something awesome. It doesn’t matter how many people participated in the challenge or how far it spread, at the end of the day, you set a goal and completed it.

Buy yourself a brownie, or a pineapple, or youknow, whatever treat treats you best.

This challenge was really difficult, but I’m really glad I did it. I really did feel acomplished afterward.

And even though it was difficult, and was so stressful sometimes I thought about just throwing in the towel, I learned a lot from doing it. And in learning so much, I am better prepared for the next one–and yeah, there’s going to be a next one. After all, I think it’s July there’s another CampNaNoWriMo? Either way, I’ll be prepared.

Long Time Coming

I’ve been meaning to update my blog for a while, and I know this has been a long time coming. I’ve been exhausted though, and somewht distracted. Exams finished almost a month ago, but they left me feeling drained. I had a whole entry I was going to write about the top things I learned after my first year at Durham, and all I can think to say is just don’t do it.

That’s not true, of course. Totally do it, it’s, I’m sure, worth it in the long run. But it’s just such a different experience than community college, or even American universities. It’s so intense. I’ll still write the entry, I think, but I’m still getting over the stress.

Since finishing the year, I’ve been trying to work on other things. I’ve been working on brandng for a pen name I have in mind in which I write according to certain tropes. It’s an experiment and also a means of me trying to figure out self publishing before I consider whether or not I want to put something out there I’m really proud of. Part of this pen name experiment is that I’m looking at a bunch of writer self-help books, taking their advice and trying to put it to use. This includes advice from groups like 20booksto50K, which encourages writers to publish a book every three months, and books like 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox.

I’ve also finsihed revising my (hopefully) finally draft of my novel that I’ve been working on for the past four years. It’s in the hands of beta readers at the moment, and I have somewhere I’m looking to sumbit it to this month. I’ve also been working on a couple of short stories, one which I’ve submitted as well. I’m waiting to hear back on those. Last year my goal was to submit three things for publication, which I did. This year is to double that. Once I submit this novel, I’ll be four in, with two to go. We’ll see how it all goes.

And finally I’ve been doing things regarding my wrist, which is still causing me problems. Granted, they’re nowhere near as bad as they were, these problems, but I still have issues with it. I went to a musculo-skeletal doctor (however that’s spelled), who sent me to have an MRI done. I did that the other day, which was a very weird experience. Then next week I’ve got to have elctronic pulses or something along those lines sent through my nerves.

I do have to say, as I always do, kudos to the NHS. I wouldn’t be able to get any of this done in the States, nor, I’m sure, would a doctor recommend having these things done.

But that’s the brief catch up. That’s where I’m at.

Wonderbox Publishing

The last week has been pretty productive, though I don’t want to share too much about the projects I hopefully have in the bag just yet–I don’t want to jinx anything.

However, one thing I will talk about is Wonderbox publishing.

I mentioned a while ago that my story was submitted and accepted in November. Things got a little delayed, and while I’ve been paid, the actual publication hasn’t come out yet. Well, it’s about to. But I need your support.

They’ve created a Kickstarter Campaign to raise some money to pay the contributing authors (that’s me!) more money as well as to create a hardback version of the anthology. Their goal isn’t particularly much (considering I saw another Kickstarter for an author who was asking for $10k for her second book), only £1,600. However, anything you can do to share, to donate, whatever, would be amazing.

Thanks guys!

Normal Deviation: 
The Completed Weird Fiction Anthology

Normal Deviation

All Over But Nowhere

A couple of years ago, I changed the name of this blog to ‘Scribing English All Over the Place’ because of a philosophy teacher I had. He said that people would tell him his lectures were all over the place, and that the key part of the comment was ‘the place’. It’s still centered, despite being everywhere.

That’s the way I’ve been feeling while on break. I have opened WordPress and closed the tab so many times, initially with the idea of reading the blogs I follow and writing a bit while I’m at it. But then I thought that I should be making flashcards to study for exams next month (NEXT MONTH!!!!!!), or I should be working on editing my novel–or that oh wait, I have another novel I want to get done that I think I can pump out really fast if only I have a detailed enough outline, but then really I should be acquiring more editing work. Of course, all the while I should be sowing the seeds for our vegetable garden so we can eat next winter, but oh dear, the weather has been conveniently crap–and now the eggs are hatching and really I shouldn’t leave the chicks when they’re this young on their own…..

And so on and so forth.

All over the damn place. But, I’m still in the place. I’m still productive. While I’m working on a hundred things at a time, I’m still focussed on an overarching goal, still being productive, and still keeping things interesting.

So no, I haven’t actually written in my blogs for a while, nor have I been a good reader for the blogs that I follow. But I’ll get back in the swing of things. Recently I’ve just been enjoying the freedom to tool around over here, then over there, and then back over to the north side of the whatever, without demand of a schedule.

I will study.

I will edit my novel.

I will sow my garden (at least I freaking hope I will).

But for now, I’m happy doing a little bit here and there and just getting things nudging along slowly.

Please feel free to visit my website at www.authornjthompson.com and subscribe to my newsletter. I’m also accepting manuscript for proofreading and development editing.