Welcome to my next 3-part series, Feng Shui Your Writing!
When I decided to take the leap into fiction writing, I soon realized I had to organize my writing space, my writing time, and my writing mind. It was around that time that I first stumbled over the art of Feng Shui. I found the principles so useful that I not only credit them with helping me land my first sale (a short story sold to FUTURES magazine), but sparked a long-standing life practice that I use on a daily basis.
Over the next three months, I’ll be talking about some ways this ancient Chinese practice can enrich and streamline your writing career (if not life as a whole). Today I’ll give a brief description of Feng Shui and the nine areas encompassed by it, along with giving details on applying Feng Shui techniques to the first three zones. Parts 2 and 3 will go on to help you organize and optimize the remaining six zones, by which time you could have applied the principles to your office, desk, or even entire home for the ultimate in repetitive reinforcement to enhance your creative flow.
Feng Shui: What is It?
My simplistic, Cliffs Notes answer is this: Feng Shui involves the strategic placement of items within a space to help achieve balance in nine essential areas of life. “Item” placement can mean everything from furnishings and accessories to the use of color, the elements, and light. In short, it is the belief that anything within/on a space (a home, single room, desktop, etc.) can either become an obstacle that blocks “chi,” or the energy that flows around and through us, or an enhancement that helps move positive, healthy energy.
How does it work? There are varying debates on this, some highly metaphysical, others very practical (such as replacing burned out light bulbs to enhance knowledge). For the purposes of this blog series I won’t be discussing the mysticism or lore behind Feng Shui, nor can I offer more than a rudimentary knowledge. But I can tell you that I have seen amazing results in using it. For now, let’s skip the “how” and jump right into the “how-to.”
The nine areas/zones of Feng Shui are:
Health (in the center)
This octagon, called a Ba-Gua, serves as a sort of map to be used in the space you will be working with. The Career line of the Ba-Gua faces North, and in traditional Feng Shui special compasses are used to find exact placement. In the modern practice that I use, however, positioning is done easily by considering the wall with the entry door as North. (If you want to apply Feng Shui to a smaller area, such as a desk, North is considered the edge of the desk farthest from you when you’re sitting behind it.)
In other words, if you had a printout of the Ba-Gua in the exact size of the space (stretched to fit as needed), you would align the Career edge of the octagon with the door or far edge of your desk. Let’s say you’re standing in the middle of the home office where you do your writing. Face the door and mentally apply the Ba-Gua. The wall in front of you is the Career zone, and the wall behind is the Fame zone. Your Family area is the right hand wall, and the Children/Creativity zone is the left. The corners represent the corner areas on the map, and you are standing in the Health zone, right in the middle. To apply Feng Shui techniques, it is important to understand which “zone” you are making changes to, what that zone affects, and what elements and colors help or hinder in that area. I use a 3-step process to tackle and streamline each zone that involves streamlining, removing “hindering” elements , and adding the “helper” elements.
Now that we’ve got the basic map covered, let’s move onto this month’s zones.
The Career area is naturally important to a writer because it affects job prospects, which can include sales to publishers. On the Ba-Gua, you’ll notice that the color associated with this zone is black, and the element listed is Water.
First: Declutter! Take a look at the front wall. What do you see? Is there clutter? Stuff hiding behind the door? Cobwebs? Your first trick is to clear all clutter from this wall and around the door, and give it a good dusting. Clutter blocks chi and stifles creativity. Plus it’s just darn unpleasant.
Second: Fix what’s broken. Burned out light bulbs, any chipped or damaged items on display or in use, etc. Broken junk=broken chi, so fix it right away or get rid of it. Next, keeping in mind that the natural helper element for this zone is Water, you’ll want to move items representing its opposing element, Fire. This means candles, the color red, triangular shapes (triangles represent flame). If you have a fireplace on this wall, you can’t move it, but you can “cure” it by applying enough of the helper element to balance or negate the opposing effect.
Third: Add your enhancements. Black (and dark blue) is representative of the Water element, so include this color in the decor. Add a water feature. A fountain with a rotating ball is very useful here, as it represents a constant movement of positive energy in terms of “turning over” book product—finishing stories, turnaround time on submissions, avoiding holdups on releases, etc. Other “Water” features can include water balls (snowglobes), round shapes, aquariums, and pictures or paintings of water (moving water is better than still water in areas where you are trying to move chi, and calm waters like ponds are good in areas you prefer a calming effect). If you need to “cure” a fireplace here, add a large painting of moving water over the mantle, use black or blue colors to subdue the effect, or do what I did in one house—stick a fountain inside the fireplace.
The Knowledge area comes into play when you are seeking information, such as researching your next book, markets, promotional venues, etc. Black, blue, and green are the color associations, and like all the corner areas, does not have a natural element.
To enhance your Knowledge area, use the 1-2-3 approach again, and place special emphasis on lighting in this corner. You’ve heard the terms “Lighting the path to the answer” and “The light bulb came on, and I finally got it.” If there is no lighting in this corner, add some. When bulbs burn out, replace them immediately. Candles can also be used here, but their light tends to be less bright and helpful than a good fixture. Also, this is the optimal location for books and/or television. Consider live (or good quality silk) plants in this corner as your green accent. Plants produce oxygen and help detoxify our environment.
The Family area, while important for self-explanatory reasons, may not immediately strike you as a zone that affects your writing career. However, since the support of our family is vital, and disharmony within the family dynamic can negatively impact our ability to focus on writing, this area is definitely not one to overlook. The color associated with this zone is green, and the natural element is Wood.
While using the 1-2-3 method here, watch out for Fire and Metal elements, which are destructive to Wood. (Fire burns, Metal (axe) chops.) Wood furniture is the best choice. Pictures of your family are obvious choices, as are plants. I have a triple stalk of bamboo in a green ceramic vase enhancing my Family zone. If there is disharmony among family members, check for candles, triangular shapes, or other Fire associations in the Family zone of your house and in each individual room.
Now that you’ve got these three zones optimized, you’ll want to keep them “activated” on a regular basis for the greatest ongoing effect. Activating a zone can be as simple as chasing away the dust bunnies, putting out a vase of fresh flowers, lighting candles (in appropriate zones), or using aromatherapy. I have a routine of “activating” each of my zones once per week. So next Monday, dust your Career area and shake up those snowglobes or burn some incense. Tuesday, clean the Knowledge zone and light some candles. Wednesday, dust the Family zone and light some incense or add diffuser reeds for fragrance.
Next month, we’ll focus on Wealth, Fame, and Relationship zones (three things that definitely go together for my romance writing career!) . Meanwhile, I hope you’ve enjoyed this basic introduction to Feng Shui. if you have any Feng Shui stories or questions, please post them in the comments. Here’s to positive writer chi!