Writing the Witchy Way

~ By Deborah Blake

My name is Deborah Blake and my blog is called “Writing the Witchy Way.”

There are a couple of reasons for that. The most obvious reasons have to do with the fact that I am a practicing witch (don’t worry—I haven’t turned an editor into a toad in years) and have published five nonfiction books on the topic of modern witchcraft. And witches show up in my fiction more often than not. For instance, my urban fantasy series features a protagonist who is a witch-cop who talks to dead crime victims.

I also teach a few popular online writing classes, including one called “Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author,” in which I help writers learn how to write witch characters without putting in a lot of misinformation.

But that’s not really why I gave the blog that name. In truth, it has to do with magic.

You see, I believe in magic. Not just fairy tale magic—although I like fairy tales, and their modern retellings. Real life magic that comes from within and doesn’t require an enchanted wand or an eccentric godmother. This belief affects my writing, and I’m guessing that my writing also affects this belief. So let’s talk about magic, shall we?

Modern witches—including Wiccans, who are a specific subset of a wider group—practice a nature-based religion, based in part on ancient practices and added on to through the last sixty or so years by many modern interpretations. There is a huge variety of practices and beliefs, but one of the things that we all have in common is the acceptance of magic as a genuine force in the universe. How this force is tapped into and used is a source for much debate (oh, who am I kidding—within the modern witchcraft community, EVERYTHING is a source for much debate), but we all acknowledge its existence.

So what is magic, and how can you, as an author, tap into it and use it to add joy to your writing, fulfillment to your life, and maybe even use it to give your writing career a boost?

First of all, don’t worry—you don’t have to be a witch to work with magic. In fact, you probably already do so, in little ways you might not think of using that term.

There is the little everyday magic, for instance, that most writers use as fuel for their writing. Birdsong in an otherwise silent morning, the laughter of a child at play, the way your cat seems to know just when you need to be comforted—to me, these are tiny fragments of magic, free-floating like motes in the summer sunshine. Good writers use this everyday magic in two ways: they tuck away little snippets to be used later in just the right scene, and they allow the gift of these precious moments to feed their souls, so that they can keep going, and keep writing.

Writing can come from many places, including frustration, anger, and grief. But it should also come from joy, and these small bits of magic can keep that joy flowing through your heart and mind and out onto the page.

And then there is the other kind of magic—the purposeful kind, where you set out to accomplish something by tapping into the force of the universe that, for lack of a better word, we call magick (with a k, so you know it from the regular kind). Witches tend to see this energy as something that is out there, available to anyone who wants it and can figure out how to utilize it. Think of it like a scientific principle that no one has been able to prove. People used to think of gravity as nonsense, until Newton changed the way we looked at the world. Magic is like that.

Witches believe that magic is real, and can be used to create positive change in the world. Part of this belief has to do with the Law of Returns: what you put out is what you get back. [No, THE SECRET didn’t invent this concept, and it isn’t actually a secret. Sigh.] In order to do this, we use three things: intent, focus, and will.

Intent is what you want to accomplish. For instance, say you want more time for writing. You will want to make sure you have your intent clear. After all, you don’t want to get more time for writing because you’re laid up with a broken leg, or because you lost a job you loved. (Losing a job you didn’t love, now, that’s another issue…) So you may ended up deciding that your actual intent is to create more time in your life for writing, in a positive way, without reducing your income or having a negative effect on your relationships . Or something like that. It will vary from person to person.

Then comes focus. Focus is what directs that intent out into the universe in a meaningful way. Witches create focus through ritual, which can be as simple as a walk through a sacred wood or as complicated as casting a circle, calling in the elements, invoking a goddess, lighting candles and incense, beating a drum or chanting, and then saying a spell. But you don’t have to do any of that, if it doesn’t work for you. You can take a bath and light a white candle you have etched with the thing you desire. You can meditate. You can even just pray or ask for help.

Your will is what sends your intent out, once you have focused it. The reason we use focus is to get the most power out of our will. Let’s face it—most of us spend much of our time running around like crazy, doing things for others, and feeling pretty scattered and pulled in different directions. It can be hard to focus your will under those circumstances. That’s why witches use ritual; it puts them in a different mental state, removing them from the worries and distractions of normal life, so they can truly focus on what they want.

Once you have your intent in mind, have built your focus as much as possible, and have every ounce of your will behind it, then you send it out into the universe. Ta da! You’ve done magick.

Will it work every time? Of course not. Will it work right away, in exactly the form you expected? Maybe, maybe not. But sometimes magick works in ways you least expect and brings you even more than you’d asked for. And if nothing else, it might give you something new to write about. And that’s the best magic of all.

Deborah Blake is the author of Circle, Coven and Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice (Llewellyn 2007), Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft (Llewellyn 2008), The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch (Llewellyn2009), Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook (July 2010) and Witchcraft on a Shoestring (September 2010). She has published numerous articles in Pagan publications.

Her award-winning short story, “Dead and (Mostly) Gone” is included in the Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction: 13 Prize Winning Tales (Llewellyn, 2008). Deborah’s first novel, Witch Ever Way You Can, was the winner or finalist in many RWA (Romance Writers of America) contests and received the EMILY “Best of the Best” Award.Her fiction is primarily Paranormal Romance, although she also writes Fantasy, Mystery and Young Adult. She is represented by agent Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.

Deborah had been interviewed on television, radio and podcast, and can be found online at Facebook, Twitter and http://deborahblake.blogspot.com

When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker. She lives in a 100 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.