Hi! We're Arianna and Katie and we like casting spells and giving advice. So we're combining those interests here, in Witches' Counsel, where you can send us any problems, hang-ups, fears, etc., and we will do everything in our ~power~ to help. Reach us at email@example.com.
I published a book last year and have been struggling for a year now to write something new. My problem is two-sided. I'm both struggling to land on something I feel is good enough, and inspires me; I also want to write something that is marketable. Anyhow, I've got, like, one nonfiction proposal going and two novels started. I need some guidance, focus, inspiration, and hope for my future as a writer (of books).
Lagging in Los Angeles
Congratulations on your first book, which, to repeat what you just wrote, only came out last year! That feels like a long time ago to you now, and believe us when we say we understand, but it's also not so very long in the greater creative roller coaster that will be your entire life. (Spoiler, lol.) Coming up with ideas for books that people will buy is HARD. Very few people can do it once, let alone regularly, and on a fixed schedule. You've already accomplished something extraordinary. You can do it again. Be patient with yourself. At some point you will need to buckle down, commit to a project, and finish it, but you want to start with something that makes you WANT to work. And most of the time, ideas like that don't come to us when we're furiously trying to pry them out of our brains. It's usually a bit more spontaneous. We recommend taking walks, taking baths, and … waiting.
Of course, waiting sucks. That's where the magic comes in — we've got a couple spells that will hopefully help get your creative juices (ew, sorry) flowing (ahhh, sorry). First, a candle spell for creativity and success. We used a green candle (for luck and business success), into which we carved your (real) name, your astrological sign (Virgo), and a few runes: Ansuz, for visions and convincing writing, and the Kenaz, for creativity and opening oneself up to new insight. We burned with it some Divine Muse incense for added inspiration.
We also have a project for you to try, and I'm sorry to say it involves a fair amount of spit. We'd like you to follow these steps for a basic Bring New Opportunities spell, adapted from Everyday Magic.
1. Beginning at the easternmost window in your home, lick your index finger and draw a tiny pentagram in every corner of every pane — if your windows have more than one pane, draw one pentagram in each pane, working clockwise and drawing pentagrams in the outer corners.
2. Once finished with a window, trace a pentagram in the air in front of the window and chant: "Windows of opportunity / Open, open unto me."
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with each window, moving clockwise throughout the house.
What matters the most is that you put your intentions behind these actions — focus on your desire to be inspired, and ask that you be open when an idea comes to you. Allow yourself time to agonize a little until it does. Agony and despair are part of the creative process. They may even be most of the creative process. You may continue to feel certain that you'll never have a good idea again, up until the moment you do.
As to your dilemma re: passion vs. profit, that is a valuation only you can make. But know this: Many authors of successful books (including JK Rowling) were told their books wouldn't sell. Publishers know a lot about what "does well," but they're not fortunetellers. (Unlike us. Haha.) If you want this to be your career, marketplace realism is important, but I think focusing on projects you actually enjoy enough to finish is more so. People like reading books written with honesty and passion. Write something you're excited to write about, and it will show up in your pages. Write because you like it, and try to make something more of it when you're done.
I wish I didn't trip as often as I currently do. I have a tendency to catch one of my shoes on the surface of the floor and stumble forward, and this happens a couple of times a day. I end up spilling a lot of coffee, bumping into strangers, and saying "Oops" more than I'd like. Is there anyway to fix this?
Gawkish in Gotham
Oh, man. This struggle is very real. Clumsiness is one of those things you feel you're supposed to outgrow as you enter adulthood (ditto spilling food and drink on all of your shirts) but which, in fact, only becomes more of an issue as your body becomes bigger and crankier and increasingly unwieldy. It's a great injustice, and what we mean to say is: We feel you. Here's what we did to help.
First, we picked up a plain white candle — which represents purity, balance, and peace — and some Venus incense (for confidence) from Enchantments in NYC. We carved your (real) name into the candle, along with your zodiac sign, and two runes: the Raidho, for self-mastery and travel; and the Algiz, for protection and purification, just in case we're working against a negative force or hex. While lighting the candle and incense, we spoke a customized, intentional incantation — basically asking the spirits to give you grace and protection — asking the spirits and universe to grant you emotional, mental, and physical balance, and that you may travel through the world more confidently. Then we set the candle aside and let it burn.
We believe that this will help, because we believe in the power of intention, and the willingness of the universe to kind of meet you halfway. More important than our belief, however, is yours. The thing about ~magic~ is you kind of need to buy into it for it to work. It's like Freddy Krueger, but for general good fortune and guidance and not a demon serial killer.
If trusting the spirits to give you some surer footing is just something you can't unironically do (though the fact that you're writing to IRL Witches for help suggests some open-mindedness) you can try — and bear with us here — to trust more in yourself. Are you traveling through the world like you belong there? Like everywhere you're going is exactly where you mean to go? (Even if it involves stopping halfway down the wrong street and doubling back — that was your plan all along!)
Try walking more slowly and calmly. If anxiety is something you struggle with, practice deep-breathing exercises. For these witches, clumsiness is often exacerbated by overwhelming or chaotic thoughts, and something that has eased those thoughts has been guided daily exercises through an anxiety management app. (Pacifica is free and wonderful!) Are you mindful? Present?
If possible, you can improve your balance through core-strengthening exercises like Pilates or yoga, and you can boost your agility and flexibility through stretching. Ultimately, understand that even the coolest, most polished and poised people trip and fall sometimes. Remember these?
It happens. You can't always stop people from finding it funny, because slapstick comedy is hilarious, but you can laugh along with it and trust that no one will ever think about it again. As long as you aren't famous.
Got a problem for the Witches?
Send your questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.