planning & productivity writing

NaNoWriMo – 10 lessons on the value of writing each day

November 14, 2017

We now structure our hours not to flee from fear, but to confront it and overcome it. We plan our activities in order to accomplish an aim. And we bring our will to bear so that we stick to this resolution.

Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

I’m doing NaNoWriMo and committing to writing 50,000 words in one month. Here are some lessons on the value of writing each day.

This year I’m doing NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – and committing to writing 50,000 words in one month. I’m writing a non-fiction book rather than a novel because I want to write that first up. It’s the practice, accountability and discipline that this activity is all about. I’m finally stepping up into doing the writing I’ve wanted to do for so long.

And it’s working a treat. It’s day 13 as I write this post and I’ve written 22,937 words so far this month, an average of 1,764 words a day. I’ve written 36,736 words in total now on the first draft of my book. Who’s counting? Me – and with great enthusiasm!

The working title of my book is ‘Wholehearted’ and it’s about wholehearted self-leadership for women in transition. Sound familiar? Yes, there’s certainly an element of memoir and personal narrative in there. I know from my experiences with leadership, self-leadership and learning as a Life Coach and Jung/Myers-Briggs Personality Type practitioner and intuitive tarot reader, that I have a lot to share. And as I write my draft, I realise just how much. Like any writing, my message and learning deepens as I write and I’m discovering more about what I know.

The biggest discovery – creativity over the long-haul

I feel like I sort of tricked myself into NaNoWriMo this year. You see, I wasn’t planning to do it this year except vaguely. In other years, I made it a big thing in my head and then didn’t make much progress. But, this year was different. And I realise, in truth, there has been plenty of creativity, planning and preparing going on for the longest time, so I shouldn’t sell myself short.

Not making a big deal out of it up front helped immensely to take the pressure off and just focus on getting to work. But it turns out I was in a great position to do the writing because of all the time invested in preparation and long-haul creativity. When I stop and reflect, I realise these strategies have been comprehensive, intuitive and practical.

Here’s a list of some of these strategies – and then I’ll take you through my learnings from this to inform your own writing and self-leadership plans.

Strategies for making NaNoWriMo part of a longer creative plan

NaNoWriMo is a focus for one month of the year. It’s a fabulous learning experience and community. Most importantly, it’s a way of focusing our attention on getting writing done and what it feels like. And this is priceless for the breakthrough value.

But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, nor is it the only time of the year you can write like this. So a real discovery for me this year as I’m working on NaNoWriMo is that I’ve been building this opportunity for a long time.

Here are some of the strategies I’ve worked on in the past year to prepare the ground:

  • Working with a writing coach, Caroline Donahue aka The Book Dr, to work out where my writing sat in relation to my evolving coaching business. I realised it is central, the raison d’être of Quiet Writing and if I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be feeling authentic!
  • Preparing an outline for the book which I did in February 2017 and worked on over time on paper and then put into the writing software, Scrivener, adding to it as I went.
  • Having the structure set up in Scrivener so I can write wherever I feel drawn to write but knowing the overall plan (as an INTJ Jung/Myers-Briggs type – I need to see the big picture!)
  • Making a start so I had 10K words written in my draft when I started NaNoWriMo.
  • Working with Dr Ezzie Spencer through her Book Whispering Project on getting my book written in simple and practical terms. This was based on her own experience of writing her book, ‘An Abundant Life‘ in a joyous, clear and productive approach, clear on her whys and attracting abundance into her life and writing, including getting published.
  • Writing my free ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence. This helped me limber up, work out the practicalities, feel like a writer and also understand my literacy lineage and the way I really wanted to write and tell my story
  • Becoming a Life Coach and Jung/Myers-Briggs Personality Type practitioner and learning the intuitive art of tarot – three key learning goals in my transition journey over the past year
  • Reading tarot each day in my Tarot Narrative journey and sharing it through social media.
  • Reading the key books I needed to read to support my transition journey from teacher and leader in a government organisation to successful Writer, Life Coach and Personality Type practitioner and creative entrepreneur.
  • Connecting with my writing mentor, Sage Cohen, via her book Fierce on the Page. Sage is also doing NaNoWriMo this year and put out a shout out for anyone else doing it so we could support each other on Facebook each day as we write.

Showing up and doing the writing

So yes, I sort of tricked myself by starting without fanfare, but I’ve really been creating a wholehearted plan for self-leadership of my writing for some time. This has made it possible to do the writing.

And through this, I’ve learnt how to show up each day as a priority. This is another thing I’ve been working towards. As I wrote in this piece on showing up, it becomes a practice all of its own. As Steven Pressfield exhorts us in his books, The War of Art and Turning Pro, we have to counter our resistance and make a start. In the end, you just have to turn the corner, change your mindset and put it into practice.

With writing, you can work up to it as I have done by writing each day in other ways. I got back to a practice of Morning Pages this year and it’s made the world of difference to start the day with writing each day. And I committed to my Tarot Narrative practice of reading tarot and oracle and working intuitively and then sharing it. This act of writing and organising myself to tell a story of insight each day based on an intuitive reading has been so powerful. It’s given me the confidence and self-belief to trust my story and intuition. Moreover, it’s been a keystone of my self-leadership. And weaving this into books and quotes has helped to connect with my literary legacy, creative influences and remind me of key thoughts. Sometimes, it’s become the message of the day’s NaNoWriMo writing, intuitively delivered.

In fact, the whole weave of these practices is making the book drafting process possible and real. It’s not something I could have done and realised without the act of writing to realise it.

So here are 10 learnings I’ve gathered from my experiences of writing each day via NaNoWriMo.


10 lessons from NaNoWriMo and writing each day

1 It takes a village

The first thought about what I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo is ‘it takes a village’. You might feel like you are sitting there writing all by yourself and you are at the moment of writing. But behind you and around you, there are all of your influences: your family, friends, experiences, coaches, mentors, all the books you’ve read that helped you, the people who cheer you on, the friends who’ve read your work and given feedback, the ones you could call on at the last minute to say, “help!”. And the people that support you and give you the space and peace to write each day now. Then there are all the podcasts you’ve listened to about how to write and self-publish there supporting you too. For me, for example, this is just about all of the 347 Creative Penn podcasts with the fabulous and inspiring Joanna Penn. I’ve been connecting and building my knowledge and creative community and skills over time through others. It’s true, writing can be a lonely trek. But when you are feeling alone writing, remember the village and community and all the mentors that helped you get there and whose spirit is helping you to write now.

2 Prepare the ground

NaNoWriMo happens in November each year. For me, the trick was to prepare the ground in many ways so it was a natural thing to write steadily each day for this month. This means knowing your topic and focus and the shape of your work. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo before and started with a novel but I had a lot of trouble. I don’t think it was the right piece for me at that time. Prepare the ground by knowing what you are writing and why. Some preliminary research will help to make the most of your writing time invested. And know it doesn’t have to be a novel. Whilst NaNoWriMo does focus on getting novels written and this is great, you can still use the framework and sense of urgency to make progress on other works. These might be memoir, personal narrative and non-fiction. I hope to write a novel next time around from these learnings.

3 Make a plan and have an outline

You could dive in cold without a plan and that might work best as a preference for some. There’s always that dichotomy between plotters and pantsers (who fly by the seat of same). But I think for most people some form of planning helps. I knew what I was going to write and where I was going this month.  I’ve had an outline for this piece of work for a while, adding to it as I thought of new angles and connections. I had an outline on paper in a mind map form and knew the main chapters and key points I wanted to cover. It was easy to transfer that outline to Scrivener as pieces of the plan to focus on. Having worked with Scrivener for my ’36 Books’ work, I had a basic working knowledge of how to make a plan that used this software to its potential.

4 Structure and the big picture helps you be flexible

Having that outline and the big picture helps me know the overall map and where I’m going. With it all there in Scrivener as a detailed plan of content, I can write whichever part feels right to me for that day. Each part is a chunk of approximately 1667 words I write whenever it feels right. I can draw on books I’m reading and my intuitive tarot work, podcasts I’m listening to, what’s in my head and feelings, to focus in on the piece that is calling my heart today. And you could do this with fiction or non-fiction. The structure and process help you be flexible and write according to your heart rather than having to be linear in your approach.


5 Work with your intuition and its tools 

Whilst structure is great, working with your intuition is fabulous too. So a balance between yin and yang, between flowing and structuring works very well. In my work with tarot and oracle each morning, I am tapping intuitively into the guidance beneath the surface of my attention. This can help me with zeroing in on where to write.

For example, yesterday’s Tarot Narrative was about structure and order but being non-attached to outcomes. I was drawn to a quote from Danielle LaPorte in ‘White Hot Truth’:

Desire. Let go. Expect. Trust. All in, and unattached. It’s the paradox of manifestation.

As a result, my writing for yesterday for my book and NaNoWriMo then focused on being nonattached to outcomes in our work in self-leadership. So going with the flow of our intuition, with whatever tools we use, can be valuable inspiration pointing the way.

6 Connect with mentors and coaches

A key part of my strategy for preparing the ground was seeking out coaches and mentors. This helps you with your writing and also working out its place and processes. For example, as part of my Beautiful You certification as a Life Coach, I needed to undergo coaching myself with a certified Beautiful You Life Coach. So I chose to work with a Life Coach who specialises in getting writing done, Caroline Donahue. Caroline is also a Life Coach and Writer, so this was really valuable for working out where these pieces fit and how they guide each other. I reaffirmed that writing is the authentic heart of my business. This earlier connection with a coach helped lay the foundation for my work now. Plus I’ve built up my connection with writing mentors and coaches over time through reading, podcasts, ecourses and online linkage. (see #1 the village!)

7 Skill up via self-learning (find out what you need to know and do it)

As well as coaching, I’ve identified the skills I need to be the writer I want to be. This list of skills is always evolving but I know right now getting my book written and out there is key. And keeping it simple. So I signed up to work with Dr Ezzie Spencer in The Book Whispering Project. This has been pivotal in gaining focus and clarity on my book project. Over the longer term, I’ve worked on my Scrivener skills for a few years now via Learn Scrivener Fast and through practice. Over time and every week, I’ve invested too in learning about writing, creativity, technical aspects of creation, sales and self-publishing via podcasts and books including audiobooks. I’ve been building a knowledge base over time I can put into practice now and into the future.

8 Keep it clear, practical and simple using metrics 

Through NaNoWriMo, I’ve learned the value of keeping things simple, and using tools like daily metrics and graphs to keep on track. I now know I can write 1667 words in under an hour direct into Scrivener. This makes it seem so much more attainable – just finding one hour a day to write. If the day is busy, it’s manageable to see it as two half-hour spots to find somewhere. I use the Pomodoro Tide App to keep time and help me focus. I love this App! Most days I can get the 1667 minimum words down in under two Pomodoro 25 minute cycles. This metric keeps me focused and it feels doable. After I’ve finished writing, I back up my files and add the day’s count to my NaNoWriMo graph so I can feel like I’ve achieved. There are badges to help me celebrate progress and I can record my achievement in practical terms. I can see that this focus on metrics is a practice you can use all year round to write much more regularly.



9 Connect with supporters and be accountable

Working with The Book Whispering Project also emphasised accountability. I was encouraged to be clear about what I was doing and why and how many words I planned to do by when. One of my fellow learners was also planning to do NaNoWriMo so we’ve linked up and had quiet email chats on the way through. And at the same time my long time writing mentor, Sage Cohen, put out a call for anyone in her community wanting to jump off the NanoWriMo bridge together for support. That has been so awesome for encouragement and connection with other NaNoWriMo writers via a private Facebook book. Plus NaNoWriMo has its own accountability and support processes. Connecting with others on the same road has been an excellent way to share and celebrate process and progress. Being accountable in both public and private ways helps boost our commitment to getting the work done.

10 I am so grateful

And a central piece in all of this is that I am so grateful. I might be a woman who loves writing, sitting there on my own writing quietly. But I am surrounded by the love, support, friendship, influence and wisdom of all my teachers, mentors, coaches, friends, fellow creatives and supporters. For this, I am extremely grateful and I look forward to sharing my learning and writing shaped from all of these experiences. The book I am writing is about self-leadership. A key component of this is acknowledging our influences and being grateful for them. Taking our influences forward in wholehearted ways is a spiralling adventure we can all engage in to help others.

So thank you to everyone reading for your support – I am so grateful. I hope these insights have been useful for you in making your voice heard in the world. I’ll let you know how I can get on for the rest of the month but I’m feeling positive. Remember too that these practices can be part of your practice any day or month of the year. The learnings from NaNoWriMo can be instructive for writing all year round. And I hope to write that novel next. So let’s spiral up in our creativity together!

When you start creating for and in honor of those that have made a difference to you, your work changes.

Seth Godin, Dedicating the merit



Thought pieces

Here are some links to key influences mentioned in this piece and some great NaNo inspiration:

NatNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – there’s plenty of inspiration and resources – and you can follow my word count here

Dr Ezzie Spencer – The Book Whispering Project

Caroline Donahue, Life Coach  – Secret Library podcast episode – Crushing NaNoWriMo

Joanna Penn – Want to win NaNoWriMo this year? 7 Tips on Writing and Productivity – some excellent tips on NaNo from Joanna who went from one month of writing her novel in 2009 via NaNoWriMo to having 15 novels and many other books published. Plus there’s a great writing bundle available for this month.

Feature image of me is via David Kennedy Photography and the map and computer images are from All used with permission and thanks.

Keep in touch & free ebook on the ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

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You might also enjoy:

Practical tools to increase writing productivity

Creative and connected #12 – The courage to show up

20 practical ways of showing up and being brave (and helpful)

Intuition, writing and work – eight ways intuition can guide your creativity

inspiration & influence intuition

Aspiring to be what we are and can be – Taurus Full Moon Tarot Reading

November 6, 2017

“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”

Robert Louis Stevenson


The Taurus Full Moon encourages us in aspiring to be what we are. This tarot reading reflects on ways we can step up and empower ourselves at this time.

Here are some thoughts on this Full Moon in Taurus from Mystic Mamma to set the scene for the energies available to us:

She reminds us to ground into who we are and to remember how important our presence is in the continuum of our lives as we savor the moments that flow by at ever increasing speeds.

This Full Moon has powerful energies for connecting with our true purpose and being present. It encourages us to connect with anything true to ourselves that we might have left behind. This might be because it became undervalued or lost as circumstances unfolded in your life. There are messages too about going into the deeper elements of our transformation – areas that may have a darker side or places that are not our natural preferences or functions.

It is an opportunity to ground ourselves into what we truly value and what makes us come alive – as quirky and unusual as some of that might be. Realising our true nature means looking beneath all the layers of others’ opinions and in areas where we might have hidden away our passions because of others’ thoughts. Dusting off these layers and seeing afresh with new eyes is an opportunity at this time to light the way forward.

Taurus Full Moon connections

Working with tarot via Tarot Narrative each day helps me to align with my intuition and with that of others. I’m also working with the cycles of the moon and intentions in each cycle to support my creativity. I’m fascinated with how the messages connect up across these intuitive practices and with those of other people.

Today’s Tarot Narrative was about what’s ‘real and possible’ and tapping into the unfolding narrative of our life in an unstinting way. That message is a central focus for this Full Moon period and beyond.

Cathy Pagano via Mystic Mamma highlights aspects of being true to ourselves in this Full Moon period:

With Samhain falling on this Taurus/Scorpio Full Moon, we have a chance to bring through the veils a part of our soul that can help us on this next stage of our journey….

…Ceres, the ancient Mother Goddess, squares (90*) this Full Moon from Leo, forcing us to look at where we ignore our creative voice and abandon ourselves in the face of opposition, rather than descending into the underworld and allowing ourselves to ‘not know’ for awhile.

There’s a strong message in this Full Moon about getting back to any original plans we might have had for our lives that we left behind. Or any aspect of our voice that we have quietened because we have worried about what others will think. The opportunity is there for a reality check of what is worth pursuing. We can make an action plan for dreams we feel are worthy of aspiring to. And we can let go anything that’s draining our energy and holding us back.

There’s also the possibility that some of this might be shadow work of some kind. Making practical plans and keeping in movement is helpful as we identify what is stopping us from being in flow or communicating ourselves creatively.

For example, we might ask ourselves:

  • What is stopping us from doing the creative work we aspire to?
  • How can we embody right now what we are aspiring to become?
  • What kind of self-care will support us to break through to what we are aspiring to do and be?
  • How do we balance crafting with patience and being in action now, given both are needed?

My focus here at Quiet Writing is on wholehearted self-leadership. These energies provide a special time to reflect on and step into the power of our wholeness. This includes an emphasis on shadow and light, embracing what we fear with courage and self-compassion. Or letting go of any fears or outdated ways of operating instead of letting them override our aspiring plans.

This dramatic, transformational energy has been accumulating and evolving for a while now. There are different emphases in each moon cycle to work with as we transform. As Cathy Pagano explains this Taurus/Scorpio combination: “Taurus’ energy builds a container for Scorpio’s emotional depths, enabling us to really look at what’s in there…” There is an honesty and depth to this time that offers the opportunity to look at what we really want to become.

Taurus Full Moon tarot reading tools:

For my reading for the Taurus Full Moon, I worked with:

This Full Moon in Taurus tarot spread by Sam Roberts aka @escapingstars on Instagram:

aspiringDeck wise, I worked with the Sakki Sakki Tarot deck by Monicka Clio Sakki, my favourite tarot deck especially for questions about creativity.

Tarot reading: 

So here’s the reading:



This is a big spread with eight cards so there are layers of complexity in the reading. THE DEVIL was an interesting card to see arriving straight up. Especially as I had been writing in my Tarot Narrative in the morning about my love of ghost stories and embracing the dark side. This is something I’ve been reflecting on over the past week or so. So this card suggests embracing or at least looking into areas of fear and darkness.

A few favourite and recurring cards appeared for this reading too:

  • SIX of SWORDS suggesting aspects of movement and journey.
  • The HIGH PRIESTESS reminding us about intuition and the wisdom of listening within.

These two cards turned up together only a few days ago in a narrative around soul work and inner and outer resources.

The NINE of CUPS and KING Of CUPS set the tone of dealing with emotion and feelings as challenges we need to relinquish or flow with.

The EIGHT of COINS reminds us of patience in the mastery of skills. The SUN tells us to shine our light anyway while we are learning and not feel like we have to be perfect.

And finally, the THREE of RODS (WANDS) encourages us to start a new plan and approach our aspiring goals with confidence.

This reading, with three Major Arcana cards – The DEVIL up front, along with The HIGH PRIESTESS and The SUN – has strong, archetypal tones. This is fleshed out with cards from each of the suits or elements, providing valuable clues to how to negotiate this time.

As always, a fabulous Tarot Narrative with these initial clues – so let’s dive into the fuller reading.

Tarot reading – card by card:

So here are some deeper thoughts, card by card, in relation to the questions. I worked intuitively with guidance from the Sakki Sakki tarot guidebook Playing with Symbols and Jessa Crispin’s fabulous book The Creative Tarot. Then connected back with the key energies highlighted for this Full Moon via the Mystic Mamma post and aligned posts.

1 What areas in my life do I need to be more grateful for? THE DEVIL

Well, this was an interesting response to the question: be grateful for the Devil! But my intuitive reflections led me to realise it’s about appreciating the extremes in my life. We can easily gloss over fears, hidden desires, emotional depth and even things we love that might feel wrong.

This Full Moon energy invites us to review these areas and see what’s valuable for us to return to and be grateful for. And what might need the heave-ho in our work with ourselves. It’s about working with our fears and seeing what is real and useful and what is not.

Tara Mohr describes two concepts of fear in ‘Playing Big’, based on the biblical Hebrew meanings:

  • Pachad – “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined.”
  • Yirah – “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting. It is also the feeling we feel when we are on sacred ground.”

You can learn more here. It’s a useful concept as we seek to clarify what we are aspiring to. Being able to identify what is real fear, what is imagined and what is a kind of healthy fear or sense of awe of what we are stepping into are valuable skills. So we need to be grateful for our fears now and understand more about what they can teach us.

2 What do I need to relinquish control over? NINE OF CUPS

This card in this position speaks to me of getting back to the heart of what we want and why. We need to worry less about external validation. It’s a time to get back in touch with what makes us feel fulfilled and true to ourselves. What do we really wish for when all of the unhelpful fear is taken out of it? And what do we really want once we take material issues out of the picture?

The Nine of Cups is often called ‘the wish card’ so it’s useful to contemplate and act on what makes us feel truly happy and fulfilled. And to relinquish control over what everybody else thinks and its influence.

For me, this plays out, for example, in truly embracing my love of tarot as a guiding force in my life and not feeling it’s something I need to hide or keep separate. I need to relinquish control over what people think of it and be fully grateful for its influence in my life.

3 To move forward, what fears and doubts must be released? KING OF CUPS

My personality knowledge came into play for this piece. The King of Cups here is talking to me about not being afraid of my less preferred preferences such as my emotional and sensing side. My Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type is INTJ – Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging and my dominant cognitive process is Introverted Intuition. My weakest and inferior functions are Introverted Feeling (Fi) and Extraverted Sensing (Se).

So the King of Cups is encouraging me here to develop mastery over all my functions and cognitive processes not just my preferred ones. So working from Dario Nardi’s book, ‘8 Keys to Self-Leadership’, I need to release fear and doubt around:

  • Staying true to who I really am (Fi)
  • Immersing in the present context (Se)

So working to ground myself in the here and now is important as well as remaining authentic to what I am aspiring to.

For example, this is playing out as I write my book on ‘Wholehearted Self-leadership’ as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) right now. It’s really pushing my boundaries to write 1667 words on average a day. But I’m finding balance is key. Like staying true to myself and believing in my message, which is helping my confidence as I pound the keys each day. If I’m tapping into Extraverted Sensing as a balance in this process, I’m taking more risks, finding it easier to do many activities at the same time and enjoy more of life’s pleasures. Like getting out the door to walk, swim and be with friends and family and not getting stuck inside.

Whatever your personality type, there’s balance in working with your less preferred functions especially as a way of dealing with fear and doubt.


4 Where in my life can I stand to be more patient?   EIGHT OF COINS (PENTACLES)

The Eight of Coins is a card about craftsmanship, mastery and the development of skill over time. So this card is all about being patient as you develop whatever skills you are working on. We are encouraged to enjoy the process of developing competence, honing our skills and finding mastery.

We might feel like it’s been a hard slog and the odds and conditions are stacked against us. If this is so, then perhaps we should appreciate even more the level of mastery we are attaining. Whatever we are aspiring to – writing a book, making a new life, transitioning to what we desire, learning a pivotal skill, completing a course – we can be patient in the learning and change process. We’re building on our body of work in a new way and this is not always easy. So let’s be compassionate with ourselves and realise it takes time and there’s no rush. And enjoy the process of gaining mastery along the way.

5 What is the best act of self-care that I can do for myself? The HIGH PRIESTESS

The High Priestess counsels working with intuition and the unconscious and remembering that the answers lie within. We are encouraged in our self-care to listen to ourselves, our bodies, and to access our inner wisdom.

Self-care can take many forms; it’s not just about rest and exercise though these are important. It’s also about doing what lights you up and being in tune with that.

So self-care at this time could be working with your intuition and unconscious as well as tuning into it. It’s a good time for accessing inner wisdom in forms like visual collage, through tarot and oracle, through intuitive writing and via following your heart. The key co-ordinating theme across all these areas is listening to your inner wisdom as a form of self-care.

6 What guidance does the universe hold for allowing me to feel secure in my life? The SUN

Even though you might feel like you’re still learning in developing skills, we are encouraged to step up and shine. No-one expects or wants us to be perfect. In fact, the opportunity to watch us develop our skills and share our journey through its steps and ups and downs can be a great gift to others. We can be secure in our authentic and heart-felt aspiring and our learning to be.

So share your light and shine it far and wide. Enjoy the process, as the Eight of Coins reminds us, and be playful and not so serious. As you embrace your aspiring spirit, you encourage others to do the same. And you also develop mastery in the process of doing.

7 How can I best reconnect with the Earth and its energies? SIX of SWORDS

The Six of Swords is a card of journeying, transition and movement. It encourages us here to get some perspective, exercise detachment and release old beliefs and fears that no longer serve us. This message connects strongly with the messages from the NINE and KING of CUPS.

In getting some distance from fear and old thought processes, it might be valuable to move. This is both literally, in moving away from anything that triggers you as well as valuing movement as a way of grounding into yourself, the Earth and nature. So walking, swimming, getting out in nature and moving are all valuable practices now. Those Extraverted Sensing skills of “Immersing in the present context”, being here now in nature, in meditation, being present to ourselves, our emerging skills and our potential are all highlighted now.

8 What can I do to Empower myself? THREE OF RODS (WANDS)

The Three of Rods (Wands) suggests that focused effort and action is the best way to empower yourself now and into this next cycle. It’s like you need to honour what you’ve already done at this stage and get into action. You have skills and tools – and you know where you want to go, so it’s an opportunity to take these aspiring resources and be in action.

We can sometimes be held back in fear from wanting to be perfect and having everything just so. But it’s fine for us to be patiently developing and honing skill whilst also being in action. In fact, the best way to learn is to practice. And we will keep gathering resources and learning new skills along the way.

So trust your instincts and yourself. The time to realise your long-term goals and aspirations has come, so start a new plan. Set yourself up for movement and action. As the Sakki Sakki Tarot Guidebook, ‘Playing with Symbols’, tells us for the Three of Rods:

Approach your goals with confidence, because you’ve already done the homework. Let your vision be your map, become the ultimate leader, and feed off your achievements.

Ways to step into your aspiring life

So are your thoughts also on how to step into an aspiring life and what we are capable of becoming?

Here are some practical questions prompted by the Taurus Full Moon and reflections on my reading. They build on the recent Aries Full Moon reading and Capricorn Full Moon reading around stepping up into our power and truth. The key focus now is on how we can work with our fears and the pieces we have downplayed or left behind. That way, we can shine in all our authentic and aspiring power.

Journal, reflect or brainstorm around these questions to help maximise your personal self-leadership at this time:

  • Where do you need to be bolder about working with your fears?
  • What have you left behind or downplayed because of what other people thought?
  • Where can you see healthy fear in your life where you are in awe? How can you honour this?
  • Where can you practice getting out of your comfort zone and embrace your less preferred ways of operating?
  • In what areas of your life can you be more patient?
  • What’s the rush you are feeling all about?
  • How can you cultivate joy in the learning process?
  • What’s your inner wisdom saying to you about your current self-care practices?
  • What changes could you make to improve this from listening within and to your body?
  • What’s stopping you from shining your light now?
  • Are you feeling radiant? If not, how can you feel this more?
  • How can you keep in movement to reconnect and ground yourself?
  • Where can you set an action plan in place that serves your aspiring self?
  • How can you power up the tools and resources you have in support of your aspirations?

Wisdom from the Three of Wands

I started with this quote because it’s so apt but here it is in its full glory in the context of the Art of Life Tarot.



May you live the life you are aspiring to, enjoying the process of becoming and not waiting until you feel perfect to shine. And may your wholehearted self-leadership help you be of service to others!

Keep in touch

Sign up + get your copy of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence

Just pop your email in the box to the right or below and ’36 Books’ will be with you soon! It’s a 94-page reflection on the creative influence of what we read. It takes you on a journey through my own influences. Find out which 36 books influenced me and why!

You will also receive updates and opportunities from Quiet Writing. This includes coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world.

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Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on tarot, intuition, influence, passion, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality type assessment.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

The unique voice of what we love

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

personality and story wholehearted stories

Finding my home – a wholehearted story

October 30, 2017

Finding my home

This guest post from Natalie Gaul reminds us that experiences of compassion and empathy – and conscious self-acceptance – can help us find our home and a more wholehearted life.

This is the third guest post in our Wholehearted Stories series on Quiet Writing. I invited readers to consider submitting a guest post on their wholehearted story. You can read more here – and I’m still keen for more contributors if you are interested. 

Quiet Writing celebrates self-leadership in wholehearted living and writing, career and creativity. This community of voices, with each of us telling our own story of what wholehearted living means, is a valuable and central part of this space. In this way, we can all feel connected on our various journeys and not feel so alone. Whilst there will always be unique differences, there are commonalities that we can all learn from and share to support each other.

I am honoured to have my special friend, Natalie Gaul, as a ‘Wholehearted Stories’ contributor. Natalie and I met as fellow trainees, now graduates, of the Beautiful You Coaching Academy life coaching program. We made an instant and intuitive heartfelt connection, recognising in each other a deep focus on the practice of being whole, working to embrace all aspects of our personality.

My sincere thanks to Natalie for the contribution of her deeply felt personal story, including the stunning images she has created especially for this piece. Natalie’s story is a journey through the shadow and light of personality. It highlights the sheer relief of finding solutions and experiences that enable self-compassion and taking personal responsibility – read on to find out more!

The weight of my world

For as long as I can remember, I felt an unease deep inside of me. Like I was living in a body that didn’t quite fit my bones and there was a pulling… to where and what, I had no idea, but it was always there.

I was the little girl who was desperate for approval, constantly wondering and whispering, “please don’t be angry with me”, “I’m sorry if I’ve done something wrong”, “I hope you still love me”. I was the classic over-achiever, the “good girl”, you know the type. The one who never questions anything, the one who does as she’s told, the one who could be pulled into line by a glance or the slightest change in the tone of your voice. I was the little girl who entered this world completely and utterly terrified of it, and most of all, of everyone in it.

I was the teenager who never quite fitted in. Who, upon just witnessing an unkind word being said to another felt it on a level so deep that it kept me awake at night, wishing I could take it and make it happen to me instead. I was the teenager who couldn’t rest or sleep. I was the teenager who still felt that pulling and I wanted it to go away.

I was the young woman in her 20’s, clinically diagnosed with a major depressive illness… or maybe it was bipolar? One thing was for sure, I was far too emotional. I didn’t quite fit into any box, under any label and even in my sadness, I didn’t fit in. And still, that pulling was there, getting stronger and stronger and I pushed back at it harder and harder… I wanted it gone.

I was the woman who met her 30’s with the divine gift of a loving husband and two beautiful children. Children I had fought for with my life, as my own body let me down. A life on paper that was picturesque, but in my internal reality, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Falling into the darkness

It was at this time, everything I had ever thought about myself manifested into words from the outside world … you are so ungrateful, you should help yourself, you are so selfish, there are so many people in worse situations, what do you have to be unhappy about? And so… I stopped fighting. I stopped pushing against the life-long pull and went with it. The pull I had felt for so long was into my own darkness. A place built on generations of extreme pain, hate and hurt. Finally, I was at the place I thought I belonged. Finally, I reached the place I thought was my home.

Words can’t really describe the depths of pain I experienced. I was used to pain, it was my normal but this was at a whole new level. To many, I was still a high functioning woman, a loving wife, and beautiful mother but inside, there was a war at play and it was dark and dangerous.

It was the culmination of 32 years of pretence and now finally I gave myself permission to treat myself how I always felt I deserved. The physical and mental self-abuse was violent and cruel but somehow it was satisfying. I was home, I was right where I thought I should be. I sat in the darkness, welcoming it, letting it consume me, all the while the emotional turmoil increasing in its intensity until finally, I was at my end. I couldn’t live like this anymore, I had to make a choice. I asked and pleaded for help, from whoever created me simultaneously cursing them for making me so broken and abandoning me. What followed, some may label as coincidence. However, on reflection, I know it was the outstretched arms of the universe, waiting for me to ask for a light out of this darkness, all along.

Finding my home

A glimmer of hope

I stumbled across Cathartic Breathwork, having no idea what it was but trusting that deep calling inside of me to find out more. I enquired about an up-coming live-in retreat and to my surprise, I wasn’t made wrong for how I was feeling but rather met with compassion, empathy, and kindness. That was a completely new experience! I left my family six days later, consciously deciding, if I could not find any peace or relief by the end of the program, I would find it with my maker and I wasn’t coming home.

You hear people say experiences change their life. That week not only changed mine but saved it. For what may have been the first time in my life, I actually had hope that I could survive in this body, I could survive on this planet. I subsequently committed to 3 years of intense breathwork facilitation and training. My learning curve was vast and steep and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I was guided and held in process after process, allowing me to unequivocally and unapologetically be me. As my self-relationship deepened, I started to understand how to relate and work with my physical, emotional and energetic body.

An insatiable hunger for this knowledge grew, intrinsically knowing it was the key to unlocking and unpacking my truth. To say it was challenging is an understatement. It was one of the most difficult times of my life but yet, somehow nothing on the pain of before. Taking personal responsibility for my life empowered me beyond belief as now, rather than being a victim of circumstance, I had choice. I was in the driving seat of my own life.

I was experiencing pure emotions for the first time. My own emotions, my own truth. I finally came to the understanding that doing this conscious work wasn’t about becoming somebody else, but rather being able to stand and hold myself with love, exactly as I am. To find true acceptance of me as a whole.

Finding my home

Stepping into my purpose

The natural progression was starting my own breathwork business. This was a monumental leap of trust and faith, however, I struggled with the concept of it for many years. Who was I to think I could hold space for others? After all, I was still on my own healing journey and I didn’t have all of my own answers. I pushed against this for years. The self-doubt, the lack of self-worth, the slipping into relating to myself with unkindness. Yet each time I pulled away, I somehow ended up coming back. This service and space I was holding was bigger than my thoughts, it was bigger than me. It was my purpose.

My study and exploration of the human mind, body, and spirit continued and my relationship with myself deepened. I learned that I am an Empath (oh my goodness! – how this freed and allowed me an understanding of why I feel everything so much). I learned of energy and intuition and what that “ping” in my body is when something doesn’t feel quite right. I learned to work with it and trust it. I studied massage therapy to acquire a greater understanding the physical body. I worked and continue to work with a Core Energetic, Mind and Body Psychotherapist, developing and expanding my relationship with my inner child. I became drawn to investigating my shadow side. Experiencing, that upon allowing myself to bring light to this shadow, there was gold to be found. It was another key to true self-love and acceptance. I studied life coaching and grounded my knowledge of the power of intention and action.

Every snippet I would uncover and integrate had a flow-on effect, not only in my own life, but that of family, friends, and clients. I was creating an ever-deepening space of empathy, compassion, and understanding. I discovered what resonated with me and what didn’t, I realised that I was actually trusting myself and feeling a level of safety like never before. I was becoming aware and confident of my boundaries and I wasn’t trying to please everybody else at my own expense… I was actually becoming clear and stepping into my truth.

Finding my homeI am home

So here I am now, in my 42nd year on this planet – a concept that ten years ago seemed utterly impossible. I am a woman who reflects on the years I have lived with a sense of gratitude, knowing in my heart that everything I experienced has been for a higher purpose, even if in my head I don’t understand it. I am a woman who, when asked how I work with people and their feelings all of the time, can honestly answer that it is the place I feel most energised and comfortable because masks are left as the door, defences are down and one’s truth is uncovered. It is real and true.  I am a woman who is committed to working with my inner child, growing and deepening and healing my relationship with her. I am a woman who, in my personal and business life has unwavering fundamental pillars of personal truth and integrity.

I am a woman who craves, honest and true human connection but acknowledges that it is still one of the things I fear. I am a woman who is saying “yes!” to my god and universe and flowing with the plan for me with the least amount of resistance. I am a woman who is learning to accept my humanness and meet these parts of me with love and compassion. I am a woman who views my vulnerability as my greatest gift to this world as it provides a permission and space for others to do the same. I am a woman who now knows that I am the perfect person to hold space for others seeking self-connection as I have what cannot be learned in any book – empathy and a lifetime of experience. I am a woman who is quirky, disorganised, insanely witty, emotionally messy and imperfectly perfect in all of it.

I am a 41-year-old woman who finally feels like I am meant to be in this world and this actually is my home.

About Natalie Gaul

Natalie Gaul


Natalie is a Conscious Life + Shadow Coach, Breathworker, Creative Artist, Group Facilitator, Writer and Published Author and Artist. She is living a quiet, conscious, and connected life with her family on the New South Wales Central Coast, in Australia, beautifully balancing her client work with her creative artwork. You can find Natalie online at or on Facebook and Instagram as @natalie.gaul

 Thought pieces

Ask for help, talk to others

Pieces like this are not easy to write and I thank Natalie for her courage and honesty. They need to be written as there is too much silence. And they highlight the importance of connecting with others. I am aware it may not have been easy to read for some people. If anything in this post triggers anything for you, I encourage you to reach out to others for support. Talk to a trusted family member or friend. Or contact organisations set up especially to provide support. In Australia, key organisations for support are Beyond Blue and Lifeline. International support organisations can all be found here.

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and whole-hearted self-leadership. This includes personality skills, Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type developments, coaching, creativity, writing and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. You will also receive my free 95-page ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story – so sign up now to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook and Instagram – keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community.

If you were moved by this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

My wild soul is calling – a wholehearted story

Our heart always knows the way – a wholehearted story

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

personality and story work life

Personality skills including how to be the best you can be as an introvert in recruitment

October 27, 2017

This article is a roundup of recent Quiet Writing guest posts with a personality skills focus. This includes: how to be the best you can be as an introvert in recruitment; leadership and self-leadership; and introverted and extraverted intuition.

They all reflect the focus in Quiet Writing on wholehearted self-leadership and knowing our personality and how to work it.

personality skills

Learning about recruitment as an introvert

My guest post, This is How to Make the Most of the Right Recruitment Opportunities as an Introvert, is featured on It explores the challenges and opportunities in presenting yourself strongly as an introvert in recruitment processes.

This article on personality skills in introversion and recruitment stems from my leadership experiences, observing and supporting others going through recruitment. It is shaped by my developing practice over time as an applicant and an introvert. And it’s informed by my professional understanding as a personality type practitioner.

There have been three key influences in shaping my practice and experience as an introvert in the recruitment space:

  1. Working with a coach and mentor over time – I worked on my skills over time in coaching and workshop contexts with executive coach, Nick Greenhalgh, from Career Innovations. In partnership, we developed skills in leadership and recruitment in staff members. This was so they could present themselves in their best light when applying for positions.
  2. Understanding quiet influence skills via Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference – This book, by author, speaker and executive coach, Jennifer Kahnweiler features in my 36 Books that Shaped my Story. Through it, I learnt to value and deploy the natural introvert skill-set for influence and impact. Importantly, I learnt how to apply it for maximum effect in recruitment situations and leadership roles.
  3. Developing my practice as a professional in Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type – It’s one thing to know you are an introvert and what that means. But I wanted to dive deeper and use my knowledge to help others. I knew the difference this self-knowledge made in my life, so I was keen to share this light with others. So I’ve trained in personality skills and type assessment, adding this to my professional leadership and self-leadership skill-set.

Sharing skills learned as an introvert in recruitment

Based on this input and background, in this article, I share my feelings and experiences about being an introvert in recruitment contexts. I have invested significant energy in my skills over time both as an applicant and leader. I share my learnings and key resources from this experience in personality skills to guide you.

Whilst this piece focuses on introverts in recruitment, the skills are valuable for all going through recruitment. You might be more extraverted in preference and so able to think quickly on your feet. But skills like thorough preparation, achievement mapping, knowing your case studies and writing well will only complement your natural strengths, making your claim for positions stronger.

I hope you enjoy this article honed from my personality skills knowledge, leadership and self-leadership skills. I’d love any feedback and thoughts on your experiences and on the article itself.

This Is How To Make The Most Of The Right Recruitment Opportunities As An Introvert

Leadership, self-leadership and solitude

You might also enjoy my other recent guest post on, How to Become the Heart of Successful Leadership: This is What You Need to Know. It was based on the book, Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond M Kethledge and Michael S Erwin. My personal experience as a leader, introvert, life-long learner and committed autodidact influenced my thoughts and reflections. Leadership especially as a quieter person and the value of solitude for all leaders are highlighted in this piece.

How To Become The Heart Of Successful Leadership: This Is What You Need To Know

Personality, wholeness and intuition

I naturally focus on introvert areas as an introvert and because I know the difference this knowledge made to me. Learning to work my introversion was a light-bulb moment for me and many of my coaching clients and Quiet Writing readers relate to this. But in my personality work, I’m interested in promoting balance, wholeness and acceptance of others, whatever our type. It’s great to understand our own personality type. It’s also valuable to learn from other preferences.

So, it was fascinating to deep dive into intuition from both an introverted and extraverted perspective in guest posts over on Life Reaction recently. If you haven’t already read them, you can find them here:

Introverted Intuition: Learning from its Mysteries

Extraverted Intuition: Imagining the Possibilities.

To make intuition a strong practice, it’s worthwhile to review the different modes of cognitive processing and comparing these different ways in which intuition plays out in the world.

personality skills

Personality skills and wholehearted self-leadership

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of Quiet Writing guest posts on introverts, recruitment, leadership, personality and intuition.

These guest post pieces reflect the heart of Quiet Writing. Two key themes underlie Quiet Writing: one is being wholehearted and how we create our stories; the other is self-leadership and how we work towards being wholehearted through taking personal action.

The key to taking action and knowing which actions to take are:

  • knowing ourselves and what we value and desire
  • learning to listen to our inner knowing
  • understanding our innate personality, including its strengths and what is challenging for us
  • seeking out, incorporating and acting on influence and inspiration from others.

My thoughts on wholehearted self-leadership stem from being a leader in the workplace and learning from this experience. The leadership of creativity and my impact on others’ ability to be innovative has been a key theme in my life’s work. I’m interested in how this lens can now be applied more broadly so self-leadership is a way of promoting self-driven approaches to more holistic career and creativity.

The key aspects I have chosen to focus on in Quiet Writing are:

  • Life Coaching – for wholehearted self-leadership
  • Writing – to discover our wholehearted stories and how we strive for creative lives and careers
  • Personality assessment and exploration – to be able to explore our personality skills and stories through Jung/Myers-Briggs frameworks and other perspectives to help us in our quest for understanding, accepting and knowing ourselves.

I look forward to exploring these themes further at Quiet Writing and in writing, personality and coaching work.

And my sincere thanks to WorkSearch and Life Reaction for featuring my work on their platforms as part of a growing body of knowledge on personality skills, leadership and self-leadership.

personality skills

Keep in touch

Keep in touch – subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes personality skills, Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type developments, coaching, creativity, writing and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. You will also receive my free ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story – so sign up now to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook and Instagram – keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Shining a quiet light – working the gifts of introversion

How to know and honour your special creative influences

Being a vessel or working with introverted intuition

Overwhelm, intuition and thinking

Intuition, writing and work: eight ways intuition can guide your creativity

All images except personality books via and used with permission and thanks.

inspiration & influence personality and story reading notes

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

September 1, 2017

My free ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ celebrates the books we love as our creative legacy and the clues they give as to what is emerging in our story.

The story of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

I’m so excited to be launching my ’36 Books’ ebook and sharing the story with you!

When I started working out what to include as a special gift and free ebook here, I wanted something that summed up the heart of Quiet Writing. I wanted to create something that sparked creativity, that shared generously and that provided a springboard for others for their own reflections on their lives and creativity.

And I kept coming back to books – sharing books that made a difference to me, sharing how they influenced me and shaped my life, reflecting on how this can be a source of growth.

Words are at the heart of Quiet Writing – the words we read, the words we write, the words we say to ourselves or another person such as a trusted friend or coach as we form our vision and process our journey. The words we listen to as we read, as we engage with another fully and the words we want to write.

And story is the shape the words make – the narrative we weave through the body of work that we create through career, our creative endeavours and our passions. This story is unique – no one has read the same books as you in the same way; no one has the same life experiences as you; and you are the only one to combine your passions and experiences in the way that you do.

Gathering special books around us

I’ve always gathered special books around me as a sort of altar, a source of strength, a connection to influence, like a wise chorus of silent voices surrounding me. So when I read Sage Cohen’s piece, ‘Honor you lineage’ in her book, Fierce on the Page, it rang special bells of resonance. In her beautiful piece, Sage explains:

I have always been magnetically drawn to the books I need as teachers. Recently I cleared a shelf and, with great reverence, placed on it the books I most love – the ones that have shaped me in the way that water shapes stones, almost imperceptibly over time.

She invites us to gather the books we most love around us and to sit with them and appreciate how they have influenced our vision and sense of direction, especially in our writing life.

And importantly, she flags that in the light and strength of these books and words, the heart of what we want to write is lingering:

I wonder if that’s really all our writing asks of us: to know what we love, to listen, and to give ourselves over to what presents itself.

So that’s what I did – I gathered the special books that have shaped me over time and spent time with each of them, honouring what they have brought to me. And it became a fascinating and deep exercise. Choosing them, remembering what they have given me, unpacking and unravelling it a little more, organising it into a continuum and seeing how it fitted in the context of my life – was an insightful joy. And I learnt so much about myself and the recurring themes in my life.

It became a deep excavation and navigation of what I love and how it drives me.

And that is the heart of Quiet Writing – it’s about gathering the threads of our lives, finding the connecting pieces and weaving them together.

I communicate this heart and this spirit, through writing and life coaching, the twin hearts of Quiet Writing, so we can work with it in a supportive way to shine. For when we find those connecting pieces, those values, those desires, those long held passions and values, they can help us negotiate the next phase more successfully and work out what we really want to do and feel.

What to expect in ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

So what can you expect in ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’? It starts with a personal essay about the rationale and process and draws the threads of the experiment and experience together into key themes.

The second part then tracks through each of the 36 books individually and shows how they appeared in the context of my life and the legacy and influence they have provided. There are also suggestions as to why you might want to read each book.

Taken overall, the book shows how the books you love can be:

  • a source of writing inspiration
  • a narrative for your life
  • a timeline for reflection
  • prompts for memoir
  • a way of gathering evidence about your body of work over time
  • a way of understanding what you really love
  • a way of noticing the key themes of your life, and
  • the key to the influences that are your guiding light.

I think will find it a valuable read about the value of books and reading as creative influence and as a way of finding clues to help you enrich your quiet writing life.

How to get your copy of ’36 Books’

So if you already a Quiet Writing subscriber, the link will already be with you in your inbox via the ‘Beach Notes’ monthly message I have sent out.

If you are not already a subscriber, make sure you sign up to connect and receive ’36 Books’. Just sign up to the right or bottom on this page and the ebook will be with you in no time.

You will also receive my regular ‘Beach Notes’ newsletter full of inspiration about books, writing, story, narrative, voice, personality and all things quiet writing to inspire you. You will also be the first to know about Quiet Writing life coaching, guest posting and e-course opportunities when they are available.

I hope you enjoy ’36 Books’. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on and share our thoughts on reading, books, creativity, influence, story, narrative and writing. These are all fabulous inspirations central to Quiet Writing and the community here.

I can’t wait to hear your feedback – happy reading and reflection!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity

Being ‘Fierce on the Page’ – a book review

On the art and love of reading

How to craft a successful life on your own terms

Quiet Writing