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The Lunar Writer: 10 Tips for Using the Dark Moon

February 23, 2009

dark-moonAs a child my Uncle worked on a horse stud and the phases of the moon were listed on the calendar that hung on their toilet door – new moon, full moon, quarter moon and so forth. The same calendar adorned the back of my grandparent’s door, so I stared at it quite a bit, intrigued, wondering what it was all about.

It was only after my son was born and I had a friend who was interested in astrology, especially the influence of the moon, that I got to understand better about the cycles of the moon and those horse stud calendars all made more sense to me.

That’s all good and fine for horse breeders, star gazers and company, but what’s this got to do with writing?

Working with the moon is a great way for writers to attune themselves with the natural world, to work with the ebb and flow of energy and to create thirteen unique project pockets (unlike 12 month calendars, there are thirteen lunar months in a year).  As someone who is rather useless at personally creating deadlines that are meaningful, working with the moon phases gives me a framework that resonates.

This week begins with the dark moon before the moon is new midweek. Mystic Medusa suggests it is a good time to relax, apply some productive nostalgia and declutter.

Declutter? And it’s not just about shifting all that crap off your desk!

Nury Vittachi, author of the Feng Shui detective series shared at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival last year how easily writers collect clutter around themselves in the form of dead energy and why it is so important to shift it.

Each piece of correspondence we receive is an energy transaction. Once received we need to do something with it. What do we do with each piece of paper we receive? We file it in a pile on our desk, and when the pile grows unweildly, we take the pile and put it under our desk.

No wonder writers working in such an environment, with so much dead energy around them, struggle to find inspiration. In this age of the paperless environment the 2500 emails in our inbox cause the same congestion of energy on our computers”

Following are my 10 tips for clearing the space – physically, mentally and energetically during the dark moon.

1. Clear, Clean and Reorder your Work/Creative Space

  • Dust and run a damp cloth over your desk (mine is always inch thick with dust and cat hair)
  • Check and clear whatever has accumulated under your desk during the month – both a scary and fun task
  • Empty the overflowing bin
  • Take any cups, plates and glasses back to the kitchen
  • Return whatever doesn’t belong to you or in your space, to who or where it does belongs (this is usually my son’s toys, especially lego)

Ask yourself what works and doesn’t work in your space.  Do something to rectify the situation so that your space is somewhere you love being in. If your dedicated space is an unmanageable mess (as mine was just a few days ago) you will seek out other places to work — and those we live with can be less than tolerant of our writing when we’re claiming the master bed, the couch or the kitchen table as work areas.

2. Repatriate your Books

My books tend to congregate on the bedside table and in random piles on my desk, until it reaches crisis point.  Attending to them each month makes the piles manageable and allows the books to live where they are best cared for – away from spilt drinks, cat hair, dust, the direct sun and so forth … and where you can find them!

3. Clean your Computer

This means in inside and out, and also applies to your peripherals and hand held devices.

  • Dust down the key board and clean your computer screen
  • Defluff and dust your mouse
  • Run a cloth over your printer
  • Run a defrag
  • Dump those temporary files that are clogging up your hard drive
  • Resave or delete all the things you saved to the desk top in lieu of a better place
  • Do a virus scan

Create some order on your C Drive.  It’s the appropriate time to organise your folders (whether that is to create more or delete unnecessarily ones) and refile stories/articles in a logical place. For instance I have two folders that cover all the material for Reclaim Sex After Birth and the associated website but I never go to the correct folder first! This month I’m combining them all in one place.

4. Back Up your Work

Use the dark moon to back up your files monthly – preferably in two places. It is something we all mean to do and put in the ‘to do later’ pile, which incidentally is the same mythical place missing socks wash up!  We’ve heard too many horror stories of writers losing work, not to be terrified of the same thing happening to us. I admit to being horrendously slack at doing this and intend to do it as part of my cleaning ritual from now on.

5. Empty your Inbox

Seriously – how many emails have you got in your inbox right here, right now?

Decide what can stay and what can go

  • Keeping emails is basically welcoming dead energy, therefore be frugal. When I first started doing this it took more than three hours to go through my two email programs. I was ruthless and thorough!
  • Consider all those emails (a friend of mine admitted to over 3000 in her inbox last week) as tiny potential blockages to your creativity. If you doubt me, re-read the wisdom of Vittachi above and tell me it doesn’t resonate somewhere in you?
  • If you insist on keeping them ask yourself – what are you really holding onto all those emails for?

Create rules to file your email

  • If your email program/client allows for it – do it!
  • Rules reduce the amount of email clutter in the generic inbox and help you when trying to track down a specific correspondence.

6. File

If you have any papers lying around – file them. If like me, the filing draw is stuffed full of other miscellaneous items, (reams of paper etc) clear it out so there is room.  ‘Papers’ include:

  • Drafts that have been critiqued or marked up that are now gathering dust on whatever horizontal surface you can find for them
  • Bills that you may have paid or are meaning to pay
  • Newspapers or magazines
  • Information or research you’ve printed out
  • Emails you’ve printed out

They all need a home – or they need to go to the bin (not your drafts of course!)

7. Check your Pens

Are you my scary twin? Do you seem to horde pens that never work? Consider the fact that we’re not always attached to our computers, lap tops, blackberries etc. Go through your pens and jettison any that don’t work.  There’s nothing worse than grabbing for a pen and you’ve got to try half a dozen before you find one that works. If the mood takes you – sharpen your pencils.

8. Revisit your Blog/Website

  • Is there anything that you have been meaning to update?
  • Is your profile information up to date?
  • Do all your links work?
  • Are there links in your blog list that you no longer visit? Links that you’ve been meaning to add?
  • Is there anything you want to get rid of?

Spend ten minutes running through your online pages to make sure your blog/website is working just the way that you want it to work.

9. Write Down your Ideas

Write down any ideas that you have been carrying around in your head

  • Always waiting for the right time to space to put them down – do it now! While I am reasonably good at ‘holding that thought’ often phrases of prose and snippets of conversation that come to me, don’t stand the test of time mentally filed.  I found this weekend past that I was livid with myself for not having put down a particular conversation.  This month I’m downloading to paper.

Take an inventory of your notebooks that you store your ideas in

  • Do you know where they are?
  • Are they in their appropriate homes (the glove box, your bag/back pack etc)? If not put them where they are meant to be!
  • Have you got a functioning pen or pencil with them?
  • Do you need a new book or pen?

10.  Reflect, Renew, Refocus

Productive Nostalgia

Mystic reminds us that the dark moon is a productive time for nostalgia. I love the notion of productive nostalgia! Take time to think about what’s played out over the month:

  • What have you started?
  • What have you  finished?
  • What have you edited? What did you want to edit but never got there?
  • What fantastic ideas were you gifted?
  • What concepts fell on their face? What got up and ran?  Any idea why?
  • What people did you  met and who did you say good bye to? What impact might they/did they have on you?
  • What progress have you made?
  • What opportunities were presented and what did you do them?
  • What work was rejected and what was published? What never made it that far? Why not?

Purge so that you can renew

If there’s anything you really desperately want to get rid of  (a bad habit, criticism, feeling towards a piece of rejected work, writers block) I have this great little trick. Write on a piece of paper what it is your want to get rid of and burn it.  That simple.  I use the mortar we grind our spices in to do this, on our back verandah.  It is both cathartic and a wonderful way to release unproductive energy – literally watching it go up in smoke and drifting off into the ether.


  • Consider what you want to manifest in the following month.  It’s the perfect time to think about what goals you want to work towards in the coming month (wait for the new moon to begin them though!)
  • Check your diary for up coming dates – critiquing circles, deadlines for competitions or submissions, workshops, courses or talks.

Paul reminded us a few weeks ago,  about the importance of simplifying and downsizing, to focus on what is important. That’s what a monthly clutter can achieve- clear the forest to see the trees so to speak.

This is a long list – lots of ideas.  You don’t have to do them all – but try a couple.  Different things work for different people. Experiment and share. I’d love to here your experiences.

For the new comer, the mere suggestion of working with lunar cycles can sound like hocus pocus, yet it is the way our ancestors got on with life before the advent of clocks and calendars.  While I’ve always said someone with a tidy desk has far too much time on their hands, I now have to admit that keeping my creative space clean and ordered is a way of honouring and respecting myself as a writer. If I can’t honour and respect myself, I shouldn’t expect anyone else to.

The attribution to the beautiful photo has been lost in the blogosphere.  I originally found it at Iris 39

  1. Riki permalink
    February 23, 2009 3:20 am

    Thankyou Jodi, you’ve helped me rationalise and reason with myself. I am the quintessential hoarder and procrastinator… Here’s to the purge..Cheers!R.

  2. February 23, 2009 5:39 am

    Decluttering is a great concept, and I find I have to do it regularly. I collect so many projects, tasks, books, paper etc. that I can’t keep of track of all that I’m working on so after a while, need to stop, think and organize things which usually means ditching tasks to make room for others.

  3. February 23, 2009 6:18 am

    Regardless of your beliefs spiritually – this information is sensible and practical. Thank you for sharing it.
    I fear I have alot of dead energy hanging about my office… hummm some tidying up needs to be done.

  4. February 23, 2009 7:26 am

    This is amazing !

    I’ll have a copy of this page and hang it near my disk !!

    and it’ll be much easier for me since we use the Islamic calender which depends completely on the moon ..

    love your blog 🙂

  5. February 23, 2009 6:15 pm


  6. February 25, 2009 9:11 pm

    I loved this post so much that I’m off to visit Mystic Medusa. And maybe I’ll finally get my notebooks in order…

  7. February 25, 2009 11:17 pm

    This is fantastic Jodi. I’ve always tried to work with the moon, and you’ve given me some great ideas on what I can do to maximise the energy of the dark moon, which I can find hard to work with. Usually I just loll about and wait to feel creative again!

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