Episode 58: Author Alignment & the Enneagram with Claire Taylor

Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!

In this episode, I chat with prolific author and Enneagram consultant for creatives, Claire Taylor. Some of the topics we cover in this episode include:

  • What it means to be an aligned author and how to become one.
  • How the Enneagram can be used to create a sustainable author career than minimizes burnout.
  • How the Enneagram can help you create authentic characters and story themes that really resonate with your readers.
  • Why your ‘Writing Why’ is never about money!

This episode is guaranteed to get you thinking differently about your author identity and career. If you’re ready to supercharge your writing career and become an aligned author, then this episode is for you!

Buy your copy of Claire’s book Reclaim Your Author Career here

Visit Claire’s website FFS Media here: https://www.ffs.media/

Enrol in Claire’s course The Hero’s Journey of the Enneagram Masterclass here.

Enrol in Claire’s FREE 5-Day Indie Author Alignment course here

Connect with Claire on Instagram here.

Sign up to Claire’s newsletter here: https://www.ffs.media/join

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review. You can also support the show by buying me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. Your support helps me keep this podcast going.

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Find the full transcript of this episode below.

Episode 58: Author Alignment & the Enneagram with Claire Taylor

Jo: Hello, my friends. I’m so thrilled to have you back here for Episode 58 of Alchemy for Authors. It is the 16th of July, 2023 as I record this, and as you might hear in my voice, I’m a little bit under the weather at the moment. I have had a two week hiatus from the day job, and it has been super busy. Oh my gosh. And the hiatus is coming to an end and I’m back to normal everyday life tomorrow. So that’ll be fun.

But on the positive side, my passion project, and first paranormal cozy, Hades’s Haunt, launched last week. And despite not really doing a lot for any of my launches, really, and it being the first in a new genre for me, I was really pleasantly surprised with actually how well it did, and the wonderful reviews and feedback that I’ve been getting from my readers. So despite no best seller ranks, I’m still counting this as being, a great success all the same. So if you are interested in picking up your own copy, Hades’s Haunt is available in both ebook and paperback, and you can find it on your favorite retailer or visit my website at https://jobuer.com for all the links. And you can even buy direct from me if you prefer.

But now let’s get onto today’s show. I have such a wonderful guest for you today, and we are talking all about author alignment and the Enneagram. So if you are ready, and I know you probably are, to supercharge your author career, utilize your strengths, prevent burnout, and create a sustainable author career, then this episode is definitely for you.

You are also going to learn how to create more authentic characters and story themes that will really resonate with your readers. So honestly, this one is a goodie. So when you’re ready, grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

Hello my lovelies. So welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Claire Taylor. Claire is a humor and mystery author, an Enneagram consultant for creatives and the owner of FFS Media. She loves making people laugh and helping authors build a personalized career that amplifies their unique gifts. Through FFS media she offers master classes, workshops, courses, and consulting on both author life and storytelling. She writes humor as H. Claire Taylor, urban fantasy as Brock Bloodworth, paranormal cozy mystery as Nova Nelson, and crime fiction as Claire Feeney. So welcome to the show, Claire. I’m so excited to have you here.

Claire: Thanks so much for having me, Jo. I’m excited to be here and chat today.

Jo: Yay. Well, as I always start these episodes, I would love if you could share a little bit of your background of how you began your author journey.

Claire: Well, I guess I started officially with Indie Publishing back in like, 2014, I think I published my first book independently. But prior to that I just, I always wrote stories when I was little despite the fact that I refused to write and do handwriting for a long time, cause I hated my fine motor skills. Part of being a perfectionist at a young age. But once I got over that, I just started filling notebooks with these, you know, stories and start… once I figured out how to type, I would write screenplays. It was just what I did in my free time. And then of course, you know, through high school I was trying to decide if that was like something to do, uh, and you know, with your life. And I decided, I guess I decided that it was, so I went school for it, studied creative writing.

And basically, the four years in college kind of burned me out on the whole thing and creatively destroyed me. They gave me some good skills, I suppose, but it was… anyone who’s gotten like an English or creative writing degree has probably experienced the sort of stigma around anything that’s not literary fiction. And that was never where my heart was so that I can write literary fiction, sure, I can do it. I did it for, you know, four years to impress the professors. But I kind of was in this middle space after college of like, well, I wanna write humorous stuff and fantastical stuff, but there’s no market for it. And then someone in my critique group, who is Alyssa, who’s still one of my editors, is she, she was like, hey, have you heard of like independently publishing? And I was like, what?

Cuz at this time I was working as, I think at that time I was working as an in-house editor for a romance publishing company. So I kinda was just staying, like writing adjacent. And so I started publishing as I was, you know, going through education like in ed, the educational field, uh, teaching, tutoring, that sort of thing. And finally I took the leap and went full-time before I was making money, which I don’t generally suggest. I had a lot of blind faith in myself, but I also had really useful editing skills and so I worked as a freelance editor as I was getting my publishing business going. And that kept me afloat until I started making a profit. And then I slowly sort of weaned off of the editing and, and the rest is history.

Jo: That is so cool. I love hearing another person who went through the whole creative writing through college, we call it university here. And, yeah, it’s so focused on the literary fiction, because I did, yeah, a little bit of a degree in that too. And the darker and more heart wrenching your writing, the better the grade I tended to get.

Claire: Yeah.

Jo: And I find it quite funny. I had Renee Rose on the podcast recently and she summed up literary fiction in a way that I just love, and I love literary fiction, but she called it, life sucks but you learn something genre. That is so true, isn’t it?

Claire: I love that. Yeah, exactly. I mean, it was. I had such an obsession with getting good grades in college that I learned how to play the game of literary fiction. Like, okay. Yeah. And then it was like, oh, oh no, if you have to resort to like life and death, the stakes are life and death, and then it’s cheap writing and it’s like, okay, I’ll make it less interesting. Sure. You know, and like, I’ll take it down a notch with the tension, all that stuff. But I did have my senior year, my senior like capstone class, the professor was a like published science fiction writer, so we got to write genre fiction. So that was kind of fun. And then I quickly realized why they don’t generally allow genre fiction in a university setting, cuz some of it was so off the wall. There was one that I was like, we were doing a workshop of it and this guy, he was, he was kind of a legend in how strange he was. You know? And I love strange characters. This guy was strange. I kind of jokingly was like, I mean, it kind of reads like grownup Power Rangers. And he goes, thank you. Like, someone finally understood him and I was like, oh, okay. We’re paying a lot of money to read this in a class. Funny. But yeah, I think that was, that was very helpful cause I got to start working on my humor while I was still, you know, in school. So that was, that class helped a lot to see like, you know, yeah, this guy made money doing something that wasn’t literary fiction. And maybe that’s why, you know, he seems a little bit happier than the professors who stuck themselves in literary fiction, didn’t make it in and are now professors. Not to be-

Jo: Totally.

Claire: Not to be too bitter, but, you know.

Jo: No, I, I get that though. I totally do. Because I remember I had a similar thing. I was in a very small cohort and there must have been maybe eight or nine of us with the creative writing specialization and that, and we were all very dark literary fiction or drawing from the most painful moments of our life. And then there was this one woman who wrote, oh, I don’t know what genre, but I think it had like zombies and lots of action. And it was just very, you know, like, did not fit the mold of the rest of us. But her stories were so captivating, but it was so unusual kind of going around where we’d hear either true stories or memoir of the most horrible moments of people’s lives. And, you know, or we’d be trying to outdo each other with the angst. And then we’ve got this kinda, you know, there was romance and zombies and everything thrown in that this one woman brought to the class, which was really ballsy of her actually. Cool.

Claire: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And easier to sell actually.

Jo: Yes. Yes. I don’t know what she’s doing with herself now, but yeah, I would think so. Yeah. For sure. For sure. So I really want to talk about your amazing book, Reclaim Your Author Career. I picked it up on a whim, just the ebook, and then through coincidences, a few of my guests that I had on the show kept bringing up your name and raving about this book. So I had Carissa Andrews, I had Troy Lambert, and they’re all like, oh, you’ve gotta read this book. And, you know, you’ve got like, Claire Taylor is amazing. And yeah. So then I really like focused down on it and, yeah, so I wanna talk about that. But the main theme that I get from it is you talk a lot about being an aligned author and aligning your career, I guess, with your identity. Can you talk a little bit about what being an aligned author is?

Claire: Certainly, yeah. That is the central thing that I encourage all authors to do, which is there are a million ways, a million pathways towards success. And there are even more of those that people will promise you will lead to success if you just, if you just fit this perfect mold for this success, if you just do all of these things. Right? So it’s really that strategy is fitting ourselves to the success that we want. Instead of when you’re aligned, you’re looking at yourself and saying, what are my gifts? Where do I shine? And then you’re building towards the most successful version of that. And that is sustainable. That is as if you are letting your creative desires, your life situation, determine what you write, how you write it, where you publish it, how you market it, and doing that in comfortable ways, you’re maximizing the energy that you have by not running up against resistance when you try to be someone else, or, you know, if only I were more this than I could have what that person on stage has.

That just doesn’t work. I’ve tried it, trust me, I’ve tried it. I’ve wanted those success stories to be my own, just like everyone else. But ultimately, you know, just like I could write literary fiction. I made myself write literary fiction. It was not bringing me as much energy as it was expending. Whereas when I write something like humor or mystery and I’m really engrossed in it, yes, it does take energy, but it’s also giving me energy back. And so that’s sustainable. And doing it in a way, when you’re an aligned author, it’s not about what genre do you write, but how are you writing that genre? What themes are you exploring that matter to you, and how are you shifting your attention towards certain aspects of writing that you care about?

No author is good at every aspect of writing. The authors that people love, anyone, pick any author that you love, there’s probably three things that they do really, really well, and they do those things so well that you don’t notice what’s missing. Right? You don’t go, oh, but I wish there was, you know, more, more scenery description, right? Yeah. You’re just so caught up in the character. You’re so caught up in the, you know, the suspense that you are just being pulled through, cuz they do those things so well. So there’s no right or wrong things to do well, you just pick the ones that you’re naturally good at. You find a genre that, that absorbs you in some way. And you just work towards that, and you do it in a way that works for your schedule. And you fight the urge for urgency along the way.

Jo: Yeah, I like that. So I’m only a few years into being a published author. And so with this podcast, I think there’s a lot of authors who are kind of newer to the journey as well listening to this. And we really do get, I think when we start out, bombarded with we must be doing all the things. We must be writing the books and creating a platform and creating a newsletter and getting into marketing and learning this and that. And then, you know, particularly if we’re indie authors as well, there’s all the publishing side as well. So how can we, particularly when we’re starting out, get really clear on what is aligned to us personally, so we don’t go down that rabbit hole?

Claire: Right. Well, I think there has to be an allowance for missteps and, uh, miscalculations. That is part of the learning experience. So, there’s really no way to never go down the wrong path. It’s about really embracing the fact that once you realize that it isn’t quite for you, you can let it go. And get back on the path that works for you. Because there’s just, there’s just too much in this world that is promising us all these things that we may not be aware we want deeply. And it’s just, it’s too much for one person to, to never stray. Right? So I don’t think that that there’s any way to avoid that, but what I use is the Enneagram, which I’m sure we’ll talk more about.

Jo: Yes, please.

Claire: I think that, that is a great way to start to figure out and listen to the parts of yourself that are telling you what is and is not aligned. The Enneagram is a way to identify our core fear and core desire and start to see how that draws our attention towards certain things and away from other things. It helps us start to notice our blind spots. It helps us, uh, start to realize what we’re very susceptible to, right? What kind of promises we’re very susceptible to, so that when we start to recognize, oh, that’s one of those promises, we can pause and go, is there anything backing up that promise that this person’s giving me? That if I do X, I’ll get Y, or am I just falling for this thing because I want it so badly? So the Enneagram brings us self-awareness and self-knowledge about our own subconscious patterns of attention, our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional schemas, as they’re called. But these patterns that we’re doing as a default, and that’s really where we can get tripped up because that’s where, you know, if someone picks up on the fact that we really, really want this one feeling, we really, really want to feel valuable, or we really, really want to feel, you know, self-sufficient. They can pull us wherever they want.

And so there are a lot of people, I mean, I don’t think that there’s like a lot of bad actors in indie publishing, but there are some, and there are some people who don’t realize that they’re doing this. They’re just really good marketers. And so it’s really up to us to start to recognize, when our deepest desires are being played upon, and say, okay, is that a valid option? So the more we learn about that, the fewer mistakes we tend to make, as we, you know, mistakes of getting out of alignment. And the faster we recognize them and get back into alignment. So that’s really the, the reason why I love the Enneagram so much for this.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. I have kind of looked into the Enneagram for so many years and of all the different kind of personality typings or things that look at your strengths and that. I’ve always found it probably the trickiest to actually get my head around. Can you explain a little bit for people who are maybe completely new to the Enneagram, what it is, how it, like you’ve talked a little bit about it being based on the core fears and desires, but how does it present itself?

Claire: Okay. Yeah, certainly. So the Enneagram is a nine type personality profile, sort of, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. So it’s nine lenses essentially that each person could look through. And we do have all of the types in us, but we have one dominant type. So there is one type people go, could I be two types? Could I change types over my life? No, you’re. You’re born one dominant type and you stay that dominant type. There are really cool reasons why you might look like other types at different points in your life, but we won’t get into that just yet. So you find your dominant type, and your dominant type is defined on a core fear and a core desire. Each of the nine types has different one, and these aren’t, you know, core fear like spiders, right? Any of the nine types can be afraid of spiders. But they are things like a fear of being unwanted, or unloved. A fear of being powerless or harmed. A fear of being stuck in discomfort or deprived. A fear of being bad or evil or corrupt.

These are the kinds of fears, and then the desires are the flip side of that. So if your fear is. Being, you know, bad or corrupt, your desire is to be good or to have integrity or be above reproach. And now that’s not to say that only that type has that fear and desire, but it’s really about what is the main fear and desire underlying everything. So, what we’re most scared of will get the most attention from us.

So the Enneagram tells us where we’re putting our attention, what we’re seeing, and where our blind spots will be because they are not getting the same amount of attention. And so in that way, it’s really a way of describing attention patterns. And so those attention patterns are going to shape our worldview. If you are looking at everything through the lens of right and wrong, which not everyone does. One type does it more than anyone else. If you are looking at attaching good and bad to everything, that is where your attention is going to be. And you are going to constantly be trying to act in a way that portrays you as good, that reaffirms your identity as a good person. When you do things that may not align with that personality of being a good person, your identity is probably going to justify them in some way so that it remains safe and protected from this core fear of possibly being a bad person, right? So it starts to show up in our attitudes. In our emotions, like what emotions we are and aren’t allowed to feel and are not connected to. And our thoughts, and the way that our bodies feel. So there’s all these different ways that that simple sort of starting seed of the core fear and core desire spiral into the reality that we’re seeing.

And so then with Enneagram, what I love about it, is that it gives us a roadmap. So it’s not just like, oh, you’re, you know, it’s not sorting us into Hogwarts houses. Right? It’s giving us a roadmap. It’s letting us see where we are on the journey, and it’s showing us that there are different ways of being. Right? The water we are swimming in isn’t the only way to, you know, exist. So it shows us, hey, there’s these other people who have a completely different lens, and you start to go, oh my gosh, and they survive into adulthood. How does that happen? You know? But somehow they do. So, oh, well maybe then some of the things that I’ve been believing is truth aren’t necessarily truth, and are a result of this sort of attentional or attention filter. Then it shows us how we can do work to release some of these patterns that we are trapped in that have stopped serving us. That may have helped us survive and protect ourselves when we were younger, but are keeping us from then going on to thrive.

Jo: Yeah. It’s a system that from my perspective, you’ve gotta be really, really honest with yourself to work out who you are, and it really requires you to get comfortable with the shadows, with your shadow self as well. I know when I first looked into Enneagram, oh gosh, it would’ve been at least 10 years ago, but when I was able to pinprick who I was, pretty certain, I was, like, which number I was, I was devastated. I was really kind of annoyed. I was like, oh my gosh, but this person’s like, you know, that this personality, this persona is just so negative and gets such a bad rap. And you can probably guess possibly what my number is, but I was really disappointed. Like, oh yeah, I can see that. Oh, that’s ugly. So yeah, it was really kind of, took me a while to kind of shake and then learn to work with it.

And then of course, so I know with the Enneagram it’s usually presented as this beautiful design that’s kind of in a circle with the numbers one to nine. And then the numbers on either side can also influence us quite strongly too in our actions as well. So we’ve got those different ways that we can sway as well. Now you’ve talked a little bit about we all have that one dominant number or Enneagram that kind of works with us, that we work with through our life. But what does happen when there, cuz I felt this myself actually reading your book had me questioning who I was a little bit, when you really do start to get stuck between, oh, there’s two. Two that are really, really, like types that come out really strong, how can you discern which one you actually are?

Claire: That process can take some time. There are plenty of tests online that you can take to get your type, but most tests the sort of established accuracy is about 50 to 60% accuracy that your top score is your type. It’s about 90 to 95% accuracy that your type is one of your top three scores. So you want to take those top three scores and read about them and remember that there is a slight possibility that one is not your type, like one of those is not your type, you know?

So the test can get you started, but it’s really important to read about the types and look at the totality of your life. So there are some places that I will, when I work with clients cuz you know, sometimes it really, it gets to the point where people are like, okay, I’ve been doing this for a year. I still can’t decide between these two types. And I go, okay, let’s schedule a call. This is, you know, I can help you do this. I have a certification in this. Like I can, I’ve been doing this for a while. And I will ask some questions. So some of those questions are, describe some of the patterns that you observed in yourself within about the first five years of leaving your family of origin or whoever raised you. Cuz that’s really where you’re gonna start to see personality in full swing. Because you’ve gotten out from under the overlays, the personality overlays of your parents or your guardians or whoever raised you, right? Which just as a survival instinct, we tend to conform to those while we’re in the house. So you’re outside of that, but it’s the least amount of self-knowledge you’ll ever have in your life. So you’re just acting purely on these patterns that result from your attention. So you can get some really good clues by looking at that period of your life and seeing like, well, what were some of those mistakes I made?

And you can look over the totality of your life and go, what are some of the lessons I keep having to learn? And what are, you know, when I’m in stress, what does that look like? Because each type under prolonged stress can start to resemble a different type. And once you look at the whole Enneagram circle, there’s arrows that show you which type you might, you know, look like. So it may be that, yeah, these two types look like they could be your dominant type, but you recognize that when you’re in stress you look like one of the stress types, but not the other stress type. So that can help you decide a little bit.

Some of the things that throw off taking the test are if you are in your stress type right now and have been for a while. So during the pandemic, when everyone was at home, maximum stress, maximum uncertainty, a lot of people were testing as their stress type. Because you’re so in it sometimes that you can’t imagine previous you, you’re just thinking of the patterns you’re in right now. So that can, that can sway the test. Or if there was something really traumatic or stressful recently, you may take the test just according to that one, you know, and keep referring back to that same instance, which there are a lot of reasons why that one may not be representative of your, you know, dominant type.

So, if you find that you’re stuck or you see a couple that look like it, and we talk, sometimes I’ll be like, Hey, what are your parents’ types now? Like, let’s try and figure out what your parents’ types are. And a lot of the times they have a very dominant parent who has one of the two types that they’re going between, right? And so sometimes it’s like, oh, maybe that’s, yeah, maybe that’s the overlay for my parent. Or uh, maybe they’re taking on some of their spouse’s type a little bit to sort of, you know, keep the peace. And I mean, that happens all the time. Our partners and us, we start to take on those qualities. It’s not a bad thing, but it can muddy the waters a little bit with Enneagram type. So there’s all kinds of things to consider. So if someone is going between two for a long time, I would say talk to someone who can help you through it. I mean, I can do that, but there are plenty of people who can do that as well.

Jo: Yeah, that’s really interesting. Like I said, I was pretty certain, and have been for years that I was Enneagram four, pretty certain. And then, I can’t remember what it was, but you’ve got cool little parts all the way through your book about things like your money beliefs, potentially tied to your Enneagram, your… just all these kind of things. And when I was reading, I was like, Ooh, maybe I’m a five. And then I was starting to question, because I thought I was a four wing five, and then I was like, what if I’m a five wing four? And yeah, so your book had me really questioning, which I think is a good thing because the more insight we have about ourselves the better, on this journey.

But one of the things I thought was cool is that your book also talks a lot about how you can design your author career using the Enneagram. And so you were talking about potentially who your ideal audience is. If it can align with your Enneagram, who you are, you’re just more naturally going to be able to, you know, hit the mark with that audience when you are writing, and things like that. Now, if you are kind of finding that, granted, you have one dominant, but maybe you also spend a lot of time picking up some of the energies of another Enneagram number, can you work mixing both of those kind of audiences? Do you think? Does that kinda make sense? Like, use both those energies? Yeah. Or is it better just to-

Claire: Yeah. Yeah, certainly. I mean, the energy you put out isn’t going to only attract people of your type. So I would say that it, you probably would have more people, like maybe a larger, slightly larger distribution of people who are your type, because they are like, yes, you see the world the way I do. But there are times when you know, people want to lean into certain energies that aren’t their own. Right? So it may be that like, I’m not a four, but sometimes I wanna sit down and read like a very type four book, right? Like Interview with the Vampire is such moody type four energy, and I, and sometimes I need that. Yeah, right. Sometimes we need that. Sometimes I wanna read uh, a fun, adventurous beach read, which is kinda that type seven energy or sometimes I want to read, you know, just a really cerebral detective book, which is more of that type five energy, you know? So, um, I think that, that you’re going to have readers of every type in your readership, but as long as you are projecting what they’re going to get and that’s aligned with you, you can be consistent about that, even if you aren’t consistent in your genre, or you aren’t consistent in how frequently you publish books. As long as you’re consistently you, that’s gonna be that unifying factor, and people are going to know that when they’re looking for that specific thing, you are the person to go to.

Jo: Yeah, I like that. So I wanted to ask then can you be a successful author under any of those Enneagram types or is there some Enneagram types that tend to win out over others?

Claire: Yes, you can be successful with any of the types. Uh, that is absolutely it. I think some types are, more prone to trying to fit into a mold so that they think will be successful. And so that’s something that I would work on with folks and just say like, no, no, no, no, you’re missing out on your gifts. You’re ignoring your gifts. Like they’re valuable too. But I will say that as far as how Indie publishing is set up, um, in my experience, it is, uh, a very capitalistic game that’s being played. It is, you know, oftentimes there is value of quantity over quality, right? And so if you are a type that can be super, super productive, that can be a benefit. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re gonna be successful. There’s no guarantee of success, but it, that can increase your odds.

So there are some types that can do that a little bit easier. But that doesn’t mean that it lasts. That doesn’t mean that they’re enjoying it and it doesn’t mean that they’ll be around 10 years from now. So that’s the trap is when we see people, um, Type 3s can be very productive. They are the achievers is the type name. Sometimes they’re called the performers. There’s different names for each type, but it’s essentially the achievers. They can set a goal and go do it, and they can be very, very productive. And you couldn’t even tell they’re on the verge of burnout because they stay about as productive as they’ve ever been when they’re about to hit that wall and completely, you know, crumble.

So that type tends to have a bunch of books. They tend to talk about having a bunch of books. They tend to teach people, want to teach people productivity tips. None of which is bad. It’s just in a system that rewards that they are seen as the winners. More often than not. And people want to be that, right? Because they see, oh, that person has this thing and that sounds really nice.

So that is a type that tends to get quicker success that I’ve seen, not always, but tends to find quicker success. It’s also because their attention is so focused on this success failure continuum and the nature of a type three is that they want to feel valuable, and so they are trying to create value. They do that through actions. And so they are very, very active. They get a lot done. One thing that is not super productive is emotions. And so threes tend to kind of put emotions to the side until it becomes something that needs to be addressed. But some types can’t do that. And so some types cannot follow that path.

 A lot of type ones that I meet, which are the reformers, which are looking at good and bad. That’s their continuum. They want to be good people. If they were raised in a society that has associated work and ethic, right? Where you work hard, you’re a good person, good people work hard, then ones can be very productive as well. And ones are really good at putting their feelings aside as well. But they don’t really put them aside, they box them in. Store it all in that gut. But they can white knuckle until they get stuff done, but they, they run out of energy a lot faster than threes. So ones try it, they get pretty far and then they burn out.

Fives same. That can be pretty productive in that way. Seven or, yeah, eights can be pretty productive in that way cuz eights don’t recognize their own weakness. That’s kinda the scary thing for them. So certain types can do it and other types, it’s just not gonna work. They just can’t put their emotions aside and that’s a good thing in just living a wholehearted life. Right? But it can become frustrating in a system that, that rewards putting all emotion to the side and just getting things done.

Jo: Yeah. So I think there is that danger, particularly when starting out. And you talk about this a bit in your book too, about, not to be mean to threes, cuz I love that three energy, but because they’re quite often the people on the stage, the people who have that big audience and are sharing all their knowledge and that. I can understand how it’s so easy for a lot of us who may be different numbers on the Enneagram, wanting to try and take their lead and do what they’re doing and feel like that’s the only way without taking into consideration that we are different. Yeah, that there could be different paths.

One thing that I really loved in your book is there’s the concept of, um, and I’ve talked about it on the show too, finding your writing why. Finding your why: why you got into this profession and everything. And you talk about also how your why cannot be linked to money or it’s not going to be linked to money, which I thought was really, really good. And you used the Enneagram to give you that idea as to what your why might be. Can you talk about why our whys are not linked to money?

Claire: Yes. And so there are gonna be people who disagree with me on this, but I am looking at building sustainable careers and helping people build sustainable careers. And, you know, this is a fairly new industry, Indie publishing. Publishing has been around for a while, but this is an industry that has ups and downs that are oftentimes unexplainable at an individual level. So just because you are having a bad sales month doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong to cause that. Just because you are having a good sales month doesn’t mean you’ve done anything extraordinary to cause that. But we’re very quick to jump on the fact that if we’re having a good sales month, it’s because of us. But there’s that dark side that as soon as the tide turns, oh, that’s gotta be about us too, right? And now, oh my gosh, now I’ve linked my value, or I’ve linked, you know, my good feelings to this, this thing that is out of my control. And that will demotivate you. So if you want money, if you just want money, get outta writing, go do something else with a paycheck. Salary. Go get a government job. You know you’re gonna have money coming in every month. It’s hard to fire you. You know, that’s what you need. If you just want money, go do something like that. But that’s not what people are going for with writing, by and large. You want to be writing, right? And so the money is sort of a secondary thing. If you don’t figure out what is connecting you to that writing and what it’s bringing you, you will start to hate it.

And then you can’t make money if you don’t write books. So the number one thing you have to tend to as a writer is your connection and your passion with the writing. That doesn’t mean you have to enjoy every step of the process. There are some days where, you know, I am so deep in revisions, I want to walk into the woods and never come back. Yes, right. It doesn’t have to all be a pleasurable process for you to remain passionate about it, but. Anyone who’s been in a marriage long term also knows that you don’t have to like your partner every day. You just have to remember why you married them. And you know, if it’s for the money, that could be a problem, especially if the money runs out, you know?

So that’s really why our connection to money is an emotional one to begin with. So we like to think that we have this logical thing with money, and we don’t, we don’t spend money logically. We spend it to feel certain ways. And so when you get to know what feelings you’re craving, what feelings are acceptable, which ones you deem unacceptable and are trying to avoid, and how you, how you could spend money in a way to avoid those feelings and to encourage other feelings, you start to realize just how, how illogical your relation to money is anyway.

So that is a whole other thing you just don’t need, as you know, if, if you start to get clear on how your emotional relationship to money tend to find that you don’t need as much of it. And so that just shows how sort of made up our relationship with it is anyway.

So that’s why I start with the writing. Because if you are enjoying your writing, you’re going to get so much out of it and it’s gonna fulfill you in the way that you need to be fulfilled. That money is not gonna be as important. Now, money is important. We have to pay our bills, right? Um, or, or we do have to walk into the woods and never come back. Uh, those are kind of our options. So I’m not gonna say like, you don’t want money, but that is something that can be handled outside of your writing. That doesn’t have to be, your writing, does not have to become your main source of income. And for a lot of people it, it’s probably best if it isn’t.

So that is what we examine. That’s why I like to examine your connection to your writing, your relationship to your writing, separate from your relationship to money. Because when we don’t examine those, we start to chase money. We just start to chase the feelings that money gives us and that determines a lot of our decisions in our writing business. And then suddenly you look around and you go, oh, I hate this genre. Why am I a bestseller in this genre? I don’t wanna be a bestseller in this genre. I’m meant to be writing this other thing this whole time. What happened? You know, I blacked out. So that’s how you can really get out of alignment when you aren’t aware of those two separate entities.

Jo: Yeah, I really liked that. And like I said, the Enneagram really requires you to face your shadows a little bit, and get honest with yourself. Throughout your book, you do talk about, uh, using the Enneagram, our definitions of success can look very different too. And when you strip away that concept of money, why we are writing, that was really, really powerful, when I was reading that. It really got me thinking about, oh yeah, this is the real reason that I’m writing and if I, you know, didn’t need the money or, or something like that, what are other ways that I can use that reason, that why for writing, to find that fulfillment in other areas of my life as well. Because as you talk about in your book, the Enneagram, even though it’s written for authors and aligning your author career, when you kind of go deep into it, it works on your entire life, right?

Claire: Yes, yes. It is. And I mean, it’s hard to separate out the writing career and just focus on, you know, getting that aligned, because aligned to what? Yeah. It’s aligned to you and you have a life outside of it. You have, you know, people have families and they have sometimes other jobs and they have all kinds of things going on, other passions, and that’s okay. So you kind of have to look at the totality of it, and going back to what you said about it, you have to get honest with it.

I will give the warning label that most people, when they discover their type, it feels like an attack and the thought is, Ugh, this is the worst type. Yeah. No matter what type they are. No matter what type they are. Oh god, this, this is terrible. Because it’s this thing that you’ve been managing. Right? When you look at these negative qualities, these are qualities that you have, you know, or perceived negative qualities, these maladaptive behaviors and that sort of thing. These are things that you have been working against your whole life. They have been absorbing your energy. You look at someone who’s a little less healthy of your type and it’s gonna be the most triggering thing, because that’s a part of you that you are suppressing at all costs. So yes, you have to be really honest. And thankfully I have no problem with telling people things they don’t wanna hear. I have no problem telling myself things I don’t want to hear, and I make sure that I’m around people who will do the same for me because denial can be good. And sometimes we do need breaks from this, you know, sort of deep inner work. It can be grueling and it’s okay to just be like, you know what? I’ve had enough this week. I just wanna not think about things and maybe like, go eat a cookie and watch some Netflix. That’s okay. We can take breaks, but you can’t do it without honesty. You can’t do it in denial and you know, there’s a certain bravery to being a writer anyway. So you just need to take that and say, okay, would I let a character get away with this kind of nonsense without inspecting it? No way. Like, it’s okay. It’s not personal. Uh, people of my type behave in this way. And I find that as soon as we add some humor to it and we’re able to laugh at ourselves, it’s much, much easier. You know? Just feel like, oh man, I’m doing that thing again, aren’t I? Yep, I’m doing that thing again. There it is. That thing I always do that ruins my life. Uh, there it is, you know. And calling each other out about it and making jokes. You know, it lightens the mood a lot and makes it a lot easier to do this cuz it is grueling. Yeah.

Jo: Yeah, yeah. You can definitely go at it in different ways. You can take it really, really seriously and end up in the corner kind of trembling and crying and going, oh my gosh, that’s me. Or you can, yeah, like you said, just kind of go in with a bit of humor and open-mindedness and yeah.

You have got so many amazing nuggets of gold in your book because not only do you dissect our personas and how we interact with the world, which is good to know to build a sustainable author career. But you also give the best tips that I’ve kind of come across in regards to writing, like the actual, creating our stories. And how the Enneagram can be used to really supercharge our actual writing itself by looking at the characters we create and making sure that they’re consistent with their actions and their, you know, their character arc and everything. And also, theme. I was really blown away by your chapter on theme. And we all know, well, hopefully we all know as writers what theme is. And it’s always something that’s been in the back of my mind when I’ve been writing my books. But the way that you put it from the angle of aligning with the Enneagram, and particularly when you’re starting out trying to align one of those themes that your story might have with one of the themes that may be running through your own life. Just the power behind that was, yeah, it was amazing. It was one of those nuggets too, that when I looked back through my books that I’d written, and my stories, and I’m like, oh, I didn’t realize actually that the theme was so similar and I didn’t realize it actually aligned with who I am as well. But yeah. Can you talk a little bit about the power of theme and why we neglect it sometimes?

Claire: Uh, yeah, absolutely. And for anyone out there who only has a vague idea of theme, that was me for a long time. Because I had so many professors who described it different ways, and I kind of had an idea, but I was not, I was not a master with it at all until it finally clicked that it’s just, it’s what the story’s about on a deep philosophical level. That’s it, you know? So, themes are really important because they give this, uh, it’s like a Rosetta Stone for how to interpret the events of the story, and they give it meaning. So we will pick up on a story’s theme as we’re reading it instinctively. Right? It is something like courage. If the theme is courage, you’re going to be seeing a lot of characters that are in positions where they are faced with, okay, I could save myself or I could do this really dangerous thing. Or is the courageous thing to charge in or is the courageous thing to wait? You know. Sometimes it’s like, well, I could save more lives if I waited, but that’s gonna take some moral courage and, you know, some fortitude in that way. So we’re gonna see a lot of those kinds of questions come up in a book that’s about courage.

So yeah, the theme is, tying all of it together, it’s giving meaning, and each type of protagonist is going to have a different relationship to that theme. Each type of author is gonna have a different relationship to that theme. So when you look back on what the Enneagram is, it’s where our attention is going. We are going to have certain themes come up in our life over and over again because our attention’s moving towards them. So, if you are, say, let’s pick a type I haven’t talked much about. Let’s say you’re a nine, which is the peacemaker. This type is afraid of being sort of cut off from the wholeness of the world and they want to feel whole and at peace and have harmony. So they’re kind of looking at everything on this, like a conflict to harmony scale. And they are trying to create inner peace, right? So nines are very peaceful people, very peaceful vibe. They see things from all different perspectives. Like when, when they say, I see what you’re saying. Like, they see it to the point where sometimes they don’t know what side they are on because they see how valid everyone’s different view is. Right? And you can tell a nine who’s a writer because there’s lots and lots of detail cause everything seems relevant to a nine.

But if you have a protagonist who’s a nine, courage is gonna look a certain way because that protagonist, does not want to rock the boat. Right? So courage sometimes for them can just be speaking up and saying that they want something. Nine’s struggle with saying yes when they mean no, they’ll say yes and then later on realize, oh, I actually meant no I don’t wanna do this. Activate passive aggression and resistance. When you really don’t wanna do something, how do you get out of it without creating conflict, right? That’s what nines are constantly thinking about. But, courage is gonna look different for them, so that theme is how they’re gonna explore it. Courage sometimes for nine can just be admitting that they want attention. Nines tend to be like, oh, and I’m nobody special. Don’t worry about me. But everyone wants to be acknowledged. Everyone wants to be heard, right?

So that’s gonna be different from if you’re dealing with a type eight, which is the challenger. Who is a very bold character. They don’t want to let anyone harm them, so they want to be in control. They’re looking at the strong, weak continuum. They want to be strong in every way. A little bit scared of vulnerability. So courage for them might look like trusting someone or asking for help or admitting that they don’t know what to do next. That could be courageous for them. Right? So everyone’s gonna relate to it differently based on the type and how their attention is moving toward that and what angle it’s taking on that theme.

Jo: Yeah, so good. The Enneagram just adds so much more depth to I think our characters, our story and our own lives. Like I am so highly recommending your book, Reclaim Your Author Career, to everybody, because like we could talk about this forever and still barely even touch on what’s, what’s inside it. It is so, so good. So for somebody who is starting now, other than they need to go buy your book, how else can they start to delve into this world of the Enneagram and connect with you as well?

Claire: Well, if this is the first that someone is hearing about the Enneagram, and especially Enneagram and fiction, I do have a YouTube channel that has some basic videos. I keep meaning to add more, but I think there’s 30 something videos on there and it has the basics of it, and kind of goes through the types and how you can, you know, use Enneagram for your writing to kinda get started. So if you go to FFS Media slash yt, like YouTube, um, not, not like white-y cause I’m a white person, but you can, you can think of it that way too. It’s not wrong. That will redirect you straight to my YouTube channel. And then I also offer consulting services. So like one-on-one calls where we can talk about your author career. I have the author alignment, or we can talk about a story if you’re getting stuck on story. I have all my editing experience, my teaching experience, and my writing experience and my Enneagram experience to help people sort of get unstuck and move forward wherever they are in the manuscript and in the process. I offer that. I also have master classes. And, I have one coming up. I don’t know when you’re gonna release this episode, but there is a Hero’s Journey of the Enneagram Masterclass coming up the first Saturday in August. So if you wanna see how the hero’s journey corresponds to each Enneagram type, we go deep into that. What is each type’s elixir? What is the dark night of the soul or the, you know, supreme ordeal look like for each type? Or what might it look like? What themes go along with that? So that is just super nerdy goodness that I love, I love so much. But I also, you could just sign up to my newsletter and I do Q and A’s there. If you go to https://www.ffs.media/join, you can sign up to the newsletter and I let you know about any classes that I have coming up. I occasionally do long posts and long emails about certain topics that I’m like, oh, I should put this behind a paywall, but I’m never gonna, so it’s there for free for anyone who, who wants to sign up and learn more about it with me.

Jo: So awesome. And I did see too that you’ve got a five-day free course as well, don’t you? Which I highly recommend.

Claire: Oh, good. Okay. Yeah. I also have that, I forget about what I have, but there is a free five-day course, that is https://ffs-media.teachable.com/p/5-day-indie-author-alignment, like, number five day, and that’ll redirect you to the course. And yeah, that follows the same pattern as the book of just these concentric circles of your career that we examine. And it can get you started on thinking how the Enneagram might apply to it.

Jo: So good, so amazing. And I’m gonna put all those links in the show notes too. Thank you so much for coming on here. Honestly, I could just have you here all day talking about the Enneagram and that. I just love it so much. But thank you so much. It’s been so wonderful talking with you.

Claire: This has been such a pleasure. Thanks for giving me an outlet for this.

Jo: Takeaways from today’s show:

1. There is no one path to having a successful author career. The secret is in creating an author career that best aligns with who you are.

2. No author is good at every aspect of writing. Give yourself permission to focus on the three or so things that you do well, and that give you energy.

3. Missteps along your writing journey are inevitable. Learn from them and let them go.

4. Knowing your Enneagram type and your core fears and desires can help you create an author career that aligns with who you are and is sustainable.

5. Your Enneagram type never changes. You are born with it. But you will at times, particularly when stressed, pull from other types.

6. Knowing our Enneagram type can help us determine where to put our attention and energies and where our blind spots might be.

7. You can be successful under any Enneagram type

8. Getting clear on your writing why can help you become an aligned author. Your why is never attached to money.

9. Aligning your characters and story themes with the Enneagram can make your characters actions, fears, and motivations more authentic, and help you connect better with your readers.

So if you haven’t explored the Enneagram before, I hope that this episode has inspired you to do so.

I really cannot recommend Claire’s book, Reclaim Your Author Career, enough. This book is career changing. And as usual, I’ll put links in the show notes as well as links to sign up for the masterclass that Claire mentioned that is taking place in August, The Hero’s Journey of the Enneagram, to make sure you sign up to that quick. I’ve signed up but I will not be there live. I’ll be catching the replay due to the time difference.

Also, I just want to give a final plug for my new novel, Hades’s Haunt, which is out now as an eBook and in paperback. I really enjoyed writing this story, and I’m hoping my readers are really enjoying reading it. So if you want to check it out, see what you think, and then let me know. I have some really exciting future episodes planned for Alchemy for Authors over the next few months. So make sure you subscribe or follow on whatever platform you’re listening to this on so that you don’t miss any episodes. And if you are enjoying the show, make sure to rate, review or share with a friend. It really does help me out and encourages me to keep the show going. So otherwise my friend, have a lovely week and until next time, happy writing.

Author Alignment, Author Success, Creating Authentic Characters, Enneagram, Reclaim Your Author Career, Story Theme