How to Create While the World Burns with Tamara Protassow | #61

When the world’s on fire, is it time to quiet down… or to share your gifts with the world? Let’s talk about it! 

This week I’m interviewing Tamara Protassow about why right now is the PERFECT time to embrace humanity, creativity, and making stuff. Tamara is a non-fiction writing coach, accountability coach and course creator. She specialises in developing non-fiction books with purpose-driven writers and holding space where creative inspirations become reality.Tamara has developed and edited books with over 50 authors, including Denise Duffield Thomas, Leonie Dawson and Lisa Lister, and has edited both freelance for self-published authors, as well as for Hay House UK. 

 Her favourite working space is the writing and creating incubators she runs where her clients bring their heartfelt inspirations into reality through listening to their intuitive answers to the simple question, “What’s the next step?”  Tamara lives in the hills outside of Melbourne, Australia with her partner, two teenagers, dog, two cats and five chickens.  

Find her on Instagram @Book.Write.Now, on her website or   

Since we recorded, my 90 day writing incubator has had a glow up of its own and is now a TWELVE MONTH incubator for you to write your book in 2023. Check it out and join as a founding member at And don’t forget to hop on my email list at


[00:00:00] Caitlin Fisher: Okay. Hello everyone. Welcome. Happy Friday. Today I have on a very fun guest and we are gonna be talking about how to create while the world is burning and chaotic and terrifying and turning to shit. So joining me today is Tamara Protassow. I did it. I pronounced it. We had to practice a lot. Ok.

[00:00:27] Tamara Protassow: We totally did. Oh my gosh.

[00:00:29] Caitlin Fisher: Tamara is a non-fiction writing coach, accountability coach and course creator, so we have that in common. She specializes in developing non-fiction books with purpose driven writers and holding space where creative inspirations become. Tamara has developed and edited books with over 50 authors.

That’s a lot of authors. It’s a lot, including Denise Duffield Thomas, Leonie Dawson, and Lisa Lister, and has edited both freelance for self-published authors as well as for Hay House UK. Her favorite working space is the writing and creating Incubators She runs where her clients bring their heartfelt inspirations into reality through listening to their intuitive answers to the simple question, what is the next step?

Tamara lives in the hills outside Melbourne, Australia with her partner, two teenagers, dog, two cats and five chickens. And we of course had pet comparison notes already. So Hi. Hello. Anything I missed? Yeah, say hi.

[00:01:31] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, hi everyone. And I’m so excited to be here and yeah, pet conversations, it’s a must.

[00:01:38] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah.

[00:01:38] Tamara Protassow: Really.

[00:01:38] Caitlin Fisher: You gotta, you gotta compare pets before you record a podcast. That’s the law.

[00:01:42] Tamara Protassow: Yeah. Totally. Totally.

[00:01:44] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. Also, Tamara is coming to us from tomorrow. Being in Australia, I had the, the little mind fuck of, it’s like 5:00 PM my time and 7:00 AM tomorrow

[00:01:57] Tamara Protassow: my time!

[00:01:59] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. It’s wild,

[00:02:00] Tamara Protassow: I know! Beaming at you from the future here.

[00:02:03] Caitlin Fisher: It’s, I know like time is meaningless.

[00:02:05] Tamara Protassow: Totally, totally. I mean, the earth being a sphere, seriously, what is that ?

[00:02:11] Caitlin Fisher: I know. I recently watched a documentary about flat earthers, like speaking of the earth being a sphere, and I was really trying to like understand where they were coming from, but every time, like they said something, I’m like, that would be explained if it were a sphere.

[00:02:30] Tamara Protassow: I so often have those conversations purely because I do work with people all over the world and time zones are a thing, and like when someone’s like, But, but you weren’t there at X, Y, Z my time, I’m like, that’s because the world is round . Like . Yeah. Yeah. And you know, we just got it wrong.

This is the time of year that it all goes wrong cuz different time zones are changing from summertime to, you know, non-summer time and we’re about to go to summertime, so it all goes out the window.

[00:03:00] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, that’s. That’s so much fun. We do our daylight saving time in October, I think. My favorite season is fall until that day.

[00:03:12] Tamara Protassow: Very short window there. Very short.

[00:03:14] Caitlin Fisher: It is. It’s a very short window. So anyway, yeah. Let’s talk creativity. I love… let’s just start with your question, “what’s the next step?” And the intuitive process of that, because I am a very intuitive coach myself, especially when working with creatives.

I encourage people to like listen to their inside voice because they know, they know what they want to be doing and creating. And then my work is helping them get out of their own way so that they can actually follow that dream.

[00:03:47] Tamara Protassow: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I, I like I’m right there with you. Because I was going to say, most of the work I do with people is helping them just get out of their own way.

Like, just get out of your way. Get out of your own way. What do we need to do to, to, to actually clear that path out cuz, yeah, we are just so bombarded with all the things like from when we are tiny of, you know, what we should be doing, we should be doing this, we should be acting this way, we should be, you know, productive.

We should be like, you know, polite and smiling and pretty and you know, like every single should gets piled on us from when we are tiny. And especially if we are not of the male presenting persuasion of person. And and even, even, you know, even men get fucked by patriarchy. Like, let’s just face it. You know, everyone gets fucked by patriarchy. This is a favorite saying in our groups. .

Oh yeah. That’s the patriarchy again. Oh dear. All right.

[00:04:50] Caitlin Fisher: I love it. I love it. Yeah.

One of my favorite phrases is we don’t hustle in this family.

[00:04:56] Tamara Protassow: I love that.

[00:04:57] Caitlin Fisher: And a hustle, hustle comes out so much like we try to even hustle our rest.

Like, okay, well I sat down for five minutes, so now I can get right back to it, right. Like I’m done resting. Like no. mm-mm, no, it takes longer than that.

[00:05:08] Tamara Protassow: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, you cannot hustle your rest. You’re right. So yeah, so much of what we do you know, people come to me mostly to write books, but most of what we do, like 50% at least, of what we do is unpacking why we haven’t written yet.

[00:05:26] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:05:26] Tamara Protassow: and clearing the way to getting on with it. And, you know, it can, it’s, it takes time to unpack all that. You know, people are like, Oh, you know, I wanna be like, finished my x, y, Z chapters next week. And I’m like, Okay, you give that a go. Like give it a go, give it a red hot go, go on.

And you know, next week comes and they’re like, Oh, I got about a paragraph. And I’m like, Yeah, I’m so sorry, but there’s a lot to unpack before you clear the pipes, you know. So once that mindset piece is done like once, and it’s never done, done, but once there’s enough cleared, there’s usually, you know, that’s when the next step really comes into its own and people can just kind of start rolling.

And once the momentum’s there, it’s off, but I find if we’re still clearing all that stuff, all those, you know, shoulds and reasons why you can’t, and you know, even self sabotage moments, like just, Oh, I don’t have the time. I can’t find the time. It’s like, wow, okay, we, you know, we’re stuck between, ‘I’ve got this idea that won’t go away’ and the ‘I don’t have time’ of the hustle, capitalist, blah, blah.

And we’re in the middle with all this tension because we desperately wanna do the thing, We wanna write the book, we wanna create the creative thing. But we, we are telling ourselves we can’t because we’ve internalized so much of that stuff. So even then, it’s like, okay, well what’s the next tiny step we can take?

What’s, what’s going to just ease that, ease those walls out a little bit to create that space. Oh, like I had someone right at the beginning she, she was like, ‘I don’t even know if I’ve got a book to write.’ And I’m like, ‘ , I am so sorry, but if you are talking to me, you have a book to write.’

Know, I set that intention years ago that if people were coming to me, they had books that needed to be out there in the world. So I’m like, well, if you’ve found me and you’re talking to me, then you actually do have a book. So I have news, firstly, but. You know, so she actually just started listening, making time to listen to just different little lessons in my courses or whatever while she was hanging the washing out.

And so just making, just kind of going, ‘Oh, I’m just going to like, not just hang the washing, I’m going to actually like use it for some time.’ And then she progressed to sitting down and listening, or listening while she went for a walk for her own like wellbeing. And so it was such little subtle steps.

So quite often we wanna take that really big step, and it needs to be our own inner knowing will be like, ‘Ooh, that’s just gonna like really push my buttons. I’m just gonna run away. I’m gonna not wanna do it.’ But, you know if we just, just gently, just gently, softly, softly, you know? It’s quite often gets us more traction. It gets, it gets a little more movement, I’ve found, anyway.

[00:08:37] Caitlin Fisher: I agree completely. I encourage people to take just like a very small step if they can, because the next year is going to pass whether or not you’re writing or not. You know, whether or not I said or not twice, it’s fine. Whether or not you are painting, whether or not you are journaling every day, like whatever the thing is that you wanna do.

And I have my clients do a 10 year vision and they hate it because they’re like, ‘I don’t know what I’m, I don’t know what’s going to be in 10 years.’ And I’m like, ‘But what do you want in 10 years?’ And then what little teeny tiny, what little small choice do you make today that creates that 10 year vision?

Because 10 years will pass. Like 2032 is coming, you know. So in 2032, what do you want? Like I would love to have a best selling book.

[00:09:35] Tamara Protassow: Oh yeah. Amazing. Great dream.

[00:09:39] Caitlin Fisher: Great dream, right? Because my existing book has sold less than a thousand copies, right? So we’re not, we’re not on a best seller list. That’s pretty cool for me, cuz most like indie writers don’t, I don’t think, probably sell a thousand copies. So yeah, I’m proud.

[00:09:53] Tamara Protassow: Great number. I love that number.

[00:09:56] Caitlin Fisher: Thanks . And yeah, like I’m, I’m helping other people write their books now. I have a 90 day goal incubator, and I started it as just like any goal, bring me any goal and I will help you achieve a 90 day portion of it. And then the only people I was getting were writers and I was like, Oh, okay. I’m a writer. I’m attracting writers. Love that.

[00:10:17] Tamara Protassow: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that.

[00:10:19] Caitlin Fisher: So wordsmithing is happening, so now it’s like my 90 day writing incubator. Fantastic. Rather than like an anything incubator, but what has come up for people is like, ‘Oh, how do I like stay on task with this when like life is coming at me really fast?’ Like big, chaotic life changes, you know?

Or like, ‘I can’t think about writing because I’m dealing with all this other stuff.’ And so I’ve had some clients who like had to press pause and they’re like, Like, I, I can’t do it right now. And then other clients who were clawing their way through it. They’re like, ‘I’m getting something done , even though everything sucks right now.’

So like, And that brings us into the topic of sort of like while the world burns. So whether that’s on a personal level, like your personal sky is falling , because it happens. We have bad seasons, you know? Versus like just being so aware and connected through social media and the news of just everything going on in the world that is hard and scary and bad.

[00:11:24] Tamara Protassow: Mm mm

[00:11:26] Caitlin Fisher: We can almost feel selfish for wanting to be creative or wanting to sell a product or service online when other people. can’t afford rent. You know, I went through that myself. I was like, Well, I can’t possibly, I can’t possibly start a business right now and ask people to buy from me. Yeah. Cause it was right at the beginning of Covid, like when I was starting my coaching practice and I was like, Oh no. This is not the time to be a coach. I need to be a coach when everyone in the world is rich and can can hire me. Apparently Covid Covid stopped me. I’m glad that I had a coach at the time and she was like, You wanna, you wanna work on that? Yeah.

So, yeah, I’d love to get your take on that. What, what about that thing that like stops us like No, no, the the world being chaotic is like, time to be quiet and, and slow down and not make any noise. Yeah. Cause I say no, like light it on fire, like, let’s do it.

[00:12:20] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, yeah, yeah. My, I am a hundred percent with you. When, when either your, your life or the world or both are like on fire, just things just keep coming at you and you go, Yep, yep. Okay. Yep. No, I’m all right. I’m all right. And then the next day there’s something else and you go, Ooh, and then you expand a little bit more and you go, Yep, yep. No, I’m okay. I’m okay. Like having a creative outlet is a hundred percent necessary. Not only for yourself, like there’s a couple of, like, there’s just so much in this that, that, I wanna say it all at once, but I’ll just, I’ll just start with the self and expand out into the world.

You know, like yes, sometimes pressing pause is a hundred percent necessary. Like, I wanna start with that and just go, you know, it. Totally valid to just go, I need all of my attention for keeping myself going and sane, and I need that time for sleeping or resting or dealing with X, Y, z, You know, that’s a hundred percent valid.

And just going into a holding pattern is okay. Like, just wanna say that to start with. But if you do have that fire, and if you are, you know, feeling something about your situation then having that creative outlet is actually a really healing and it’s like a lifeline. So, you know, I know people who art journal and just you know, express themselves on a page.

I do a, I do a traveling art journal with a couple of friends and we each have a little like notebook and we do some art in there, and then we send it to the next person in the circle and it just goes around and around. And that’s a really great thing. You know, it means I’m not attached to what I’ve done.

I’ve just, you know, expressed myself on the page and out it’s gone. And I feel so much better because it grounds me, it allows me to process my experience. And then I just, I send it on. And of course they’re trusted friends, of course, you know, they can receive whatever I’ve put in there. But it, it really does give a thread of centered. and groundedness, and I think that’s super important for us. If we’re going through something, you know, it’s a little bit like just writing, journaling or you know, having a cup of tea with a friend and having a chat. Like it’s, it’s that kind of grounding force.

However, if you then look at the world and go, Holy crap, this is a situation where I don’t know how much worse it can get, and then the news the next day shows you how much worse it can get, and that just keeps happening. And, and you have a, a fire in you and a rage in you and an urge to express that then to me, that is, That is the creative fire. That is something wanting to come through you and actually be out there in the world to give other people hope, to give other people a thread to hold onto.

So, you know, I quite often get filled with feminist rage just purely existing as a person in the world, , who identifies as a woman, and I am just, you know, so quite often, like I have writing accountability calls and like, you know, I’m writing my nonfiction book anyway, but sometimes on our Writing accountability calls, I’ll be like, you know, today I just have to write from the place of feminist rage.

And I just, I’ve just gotta get it out. I have to get it out. And, you know, quite often that needs to go, you know, it can’t just sit on my hard drive, like quite often that needs to go on like medium or on my blog or a social media post, like it’s, it’s just got to get out there somewhere. And those tend to be the posts, those tend to be the like blog posts or whatever, I send it out to my list and they’re the ones that get people replying going, Oh my gosh, I needed to hear that today. I needed to hear that, you know? How do you, how like quite often it is, how do you justify what you do when the world is in such a state and it’s, it’s thinking about and answering that question.

So for whatever topic you are feeling inspired to write about, there’s someone out there who needs to hear it. That’s one of the basic things that I work with with people is if you’ve got a spark of inspiration, There’s someone out there who has wished that someone would do something in that area, you know?

And that us not acting on that inspiration. You know, if we are creatively blocking ourselves, if we are just there going, No, no, no, I need to hustle. I need to, I need to, I need, I, I should be this, that, or the other thing. Like, we’re actually not allowing that other person who’s wished for this to get what they need. So for me, the creative urge is a service as well as a an expression of ourselves.

[00:17:40] Caitlin Fisher: I really love that. That’s beautiful.

[00:17:42] Tamara Protassow: Mm, Yeah. Yeah. It always, it always makes me go, Oh my gosh, that is exactly what I am about.

[00:17:49] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, it is. And I have found. So I, I came to like my, my current present life from a marketing career, so I was a full-time content manager.

So I was writing blogs with SEO keywords, and I was writing a whole social media calendar, like months, even quarters in advance because, you know, I worked for a greenhouse and we plant content is not really topical really. I’m just like, Here’s plants, here’s a pun with plant names in it. And, you know, that was easy to sort of plan and create on a calendar.

And so I was doing that same thing, trying to teach about intuition and creativity and like joy and stuff. And I was like, Why does this all feel fake? And so I stopped. I stopped planning my post in advance in April. And sometimes that means I post several times a day and sometimes I go a few days without posting.

Like for instance, on Instagram or wherever, wherever I’m at, I’m most active on Facebook. But I like Instagram cuz it’s pretty. And I like TikTok cuz it’s just kind of like fun to play around with a platform that I’m not familiar with yet. But when I just show up, you know, like when I have an idea and I’m like, Go write a post about it.

Go, go do that. And it can be really short or it can be just funny, like, I just went out for sushi and I said, Guess who didn’t drop any soy sauce on their titties? And some like, I got so many people on that post being like, Oh my God, so funny. Yeah. Like I’m like, I never in a thousand years would’ve pre-planned that.

[00:19:37] Tamara Protassow: You can’t plan that. [laughter]

[00:19:38] Caitlin Fisher: So just sort of allowing myself to like be a person and not have to be like this sort of more corporate pre-planned, quarterly perfect content production farm has resulted for me in a lot more authentic connection with people. Yeah. And I’ve gotten that feedback a lot of, like, I really needed to see this today.

And somebody the other day actually commented on TikTok. They said like, the algorithm brought me to this, this one, and like I didn’t know who they were. It was like a new person that I hadn’t met yet. And so I was like, Oh wow, okay. Like the internet’s working, like the internet is taking what I, what I’m saying to the people who want and need it. And that’s awesome.

[00:20:23] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, absolutely. And that, that is the crucial piece I think. Yeah. It’s, it’s just so I don’t know. I think it also gets us out of our heads. Which is really necessary when you’re creating, Like, you can’t be there going, Oh, look at me, I’m doing the writing. Ooh. Or whatever, painting, creating, you know, whatever creations you’re doing.

You can’t be like, Here I am doing the thing. I’m– look at me. Look at me. Aww, that line. Look at that line. You know, like you can. It’s not the space that you can actually, and it’s really hard sometimes to get out of that out of that sort of self watching, you know, that, that feeling. Yeah. And it, and it’s quite often creation happens in a, in a little bubble.

Like you’re by yourself, you know, the, the stereotypical writing person is, you know, by themselves in a room kind of tapping away, looking wistfully out the window, like

[00:21:16] Caitlin Fisher: Right. It’s, it’s dark. There’s a, a whiskey.

[00:21:21] Tamara Protassow: Exactly. Having great thoughts, you know? And so often it’s really not, it’s, it’s stolen moments where you are like, I have five minutes.

You know, if, if you are, if you’ve got loads of commitments, sometimes it’s like, Oh, quick write that down. Or if you’ve given yourself time, it’s just like sitting there staring at the blank screen in front of you going, Crap. I feel like I’m writing, I feel like I’m typing with oven mitts on like, this is really terrible.

[00:21:51] Caitlin Fisher: You know, I had, that was this week for me. I write once a week on my novel. It’s, I call it novel day. I write on Wednesday morning and this trilogy came to me in the shower once and I turned the shower off and went for a notebook. I was like, I have, I have to write it down. One day I will find the notebook it’s in and the page will be wet, and I will frame it.

Ah, but I, like, I had this whole idea and I’m like, I gotta write that. And then of course it’s become a, a trilogy. Now I’m like midway through the second book. The plot of the third book just came to me in the kitchen a couple days ago.

[00:22:28] Tamara Protassow: Oh, I love this.

[00:22:30] Caitlin Fisher: the parts, like some people like authors, so I, I, I do more like writing community on Twitter than anywhere else, and people will be like, Oh, my characters are doing this.

And like, I didn’t plan that. And I’m like, What do you mean you didn’t plan that? NO. They do things. They go off book like, and it’s, it’s so crazy to me how much of a life like the book takes. My non-fiction book didn’t do that. Cause my non-fiction book didn’t have characters and chaos. But writing fiction for me has been an incredible process, but this week it just, it just was not really flowing. Yeah. I don’t know if I was distracted or if I, you know, my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, or like, whatever. But it did, it felt like typing with oven mitts, like, I’m like, man, I had to have hit like at least like 1500 words, like 700 and something

[00:23:26] Tamara Protassow: Oh. I think, I think that’s an experience everyone can relate to. I mean, you know…. It. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:23:35] Caitlin Fisher: [muffled] It’s progress

[00:23:37] Tamara Protassow: it’s progress. And I think the, the great thing about you know, having a community like your 90 day kind of incubator and the, the like writing sort of membership thing that I, I run and write alongside people in is just…

the fact that, you know, when we check in there, there’s going to be someone having a great day. Like there’s gonna be someone going, Oh my gosh, I managed to get away for like an hour before the call and I’ve like written and written, I’ve written 2000 words and I’m in love with it. And oh my gosh, you know, there there’ll be someone on a roll and there’ll be someone else going, Oh, I’m the exact opposite.

I’ve tried to write this week and I’ve made time and I’ve faithfully sat down and did it, and, and. But it was really hard. And so they, But I think over time we get to see that we all have those times and it becomes normal. And so what I’ve found over time is that people will be, instead of going, so therefore I’m giving up , people will be like, Well, I guess like I just wait it out and I’ll probably be different next week.

It just gives that little bit of perspective cuz they’ve had the good times too, and that they know that it’s not a constant, even though we wish it was, we all wanna feel like we’re flying, you know? We just wanna always capture that feeling and never let it go and just, you know, create off into the sunset.

But for whatever reason, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes like, you know, quite often I’m like, Okay, well if it’s feeling really stuck, how about you just stop? Like stop punishing yourself by making yourself sit there like you’ve got like 750 words or you know, 35 words or whatever. Like just you’ve done some stuff.

Like if you really wanna keep going on your book, then there’s heaps of other jobs you can do, like write your back cover blurb. Research other books in the same genre so that you can look at what people expect from a cover. Like decide what you, what colors you really like, like decide if you want graphic elements inside the book.

Start fiddling around with those, like there’s heaps and heaps and heaps of jobs on books that you can do that isn’t actually writing the words. .

[00:25:54] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. For sure. Sometimes I’ll go onto Pinterest and I’ll make like little inspiration boards for each character. I’m like,

[00:26:01] Tamara Protassow: Oh, that’s lovely

[00:26:03] Caitlin Fisher: yeah. I just wanna put some visuals together.

I made a book trailer and put it on TikTok, like that was super fun.

[00:26:10] Tamara Protassow: Yes, yes. All of that stuff. It’s just, yeah. You know, it’s all still working on your book. It’s really interesting how you were saying, Oh yeah, my non-fiction book didn’t, didn’t do this. It’s so odd, but so many non-fiction books do, like people will go, Oh, right, I’m writing this book.

It’s on X, y, Z, et cetera, et cetera. And we plan it out. And then part way through, they go, Oh, it just showed me it expanded. Oh. It’s bigger on the inside. Like . Yes. And, and it just like, you know, so, and it gets, I guess it gets bigger and richer. So suddenly they realize where the threads all come together and go, Oh, oh, I need a heat more in here and this is gonna help someone more.

And that’s where we come back to that self-conscious thing I was talking about. It’s, it’s kind of helped by remembering this is actually. Like an answer to someone else’s wish. You know, this is, this is actually service to someone like a fiction book that is such a like great service. Like people want to be entertained, people want to escape Reality for a bit like that is such a gift.

Like I read a heck of a lot of fiction, like I read so much and I love it because it takes me out of whatever I am feeling, doing, experiencing particularly when the world is on fire, when it’s going to hell in a hand basket, I’m like, and it’s time for a bath and book. That is me. No one can disturb that. I am ignoring everything and I’m diving in here, and I don’t care what’s happening outside my door right now.

[00:28:01] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. Yeah. So I, I also teach not work life balance, but I teach work, life, play, rest, balance.

[00:28:09] Tamara Protassow: Ooh.

[00:28:09] Caitlin Fisher: Because we need things that are just for joy and pleasure and fun. We need the play and we also need rest. That is actually restorative. So like, not just, Well, I stayed up super late writing my book, and so I only get like five hours of sleep a night. But it’s fine. I feel fine. I’m like, You don’t feel fine. You have a Red Bull addiction. you’re not fine, my partner who doesn’t listen to this podcast, , like, I know, I know you’re hitting two red Bulls a day some days. Like, No, that’s not rest.

Rest is… rest is saying like, No, I am closing the door. I am sitting in the bathtub. I have a book. I got candles. I got a face mask. I got tea or wine, or whatever your thing is. Like the animals cannot come in here like, no. One time my ex-husband came in to, I don’t know, fake concern about me or something, and left the bathroom door open when I was taking a bath and all the cats came in and I had candles. I’m trying to read. I’m like, What? Shut the door, man. like, not restful.

[00:29:20] Tamara Protassow: No, very much not restful right.

[00:29:23] Caitlin Fisher: You’ve now taken my rest and made it work cuz now I have to manage all these freaking animals. Yeah, but also like the dichotomy of like, creativity. So when I’m painting, painting for me is play, but writing for me is work.

[00:29:36] Tamara Protassow: Mm.

[00:29:36] Caitlin Fisher: Both are creative, but they, I engage with them differently and so like, it doesn’t feel guilty for me to paint necessarily. You know, like I’m not, like the world is burning and so I cannot be creative in this way. Like the, the world burning really comes out when I’m, I guess trying to like write something like, say I feel inspired, like you said, like feminist rage is, is pouring out of me today, so I’m gonna write a blog about it.

And I personally, as a white person, get stuck in my head and I’m like, am I the voice that needs to be telling this? And. Man, just, just write it. Just be creative. Just get it out in the world. Like you’re not, you’re not acting like you’re the sole authority on feeling burnt out by the world right now.

Like, so, you know, I wrote about, I did a blog when Roe v. Wade was overturned in the us. That was huge. That was, that’s bad.

[00:30:32] Tamara Protassow: Very massive.

[00:30:33] Caitlin Fisher: Sent out an email to my email list and I was like, Nothing is fine. like, Hey, I’m here coming to you on a Wednesday or whatever. Like, I normally write you on Mondays, but I just want you to know that like, this is bad and nothing’s okay, and like, it’s okay if you are having any emotion.

[00:30:49] Tamara Protassow: Yeah.

[00:30:49] Caitlin Fisher: And I got people writing back and they were just like, Thank you,

[00:30:52] Tamara Protassow: Thank goodness someone said it

[00:30:54] Caitlin Fisher: right, like somebody, somebody said it to me like, I needed this. I needed to receive permission to be scared or angry or sad, like any anything, and. Yeah. Like, why not you? Yeah. Why not Your creativity, Why not your words in your work?

Like, yes, the world is awful. So be a source of light.

[00:31:18] Tamara Protassow: Back in 2016 when you had that infamous election over there it, it reverberated around the world. And I remember writing like just ev everyone watched in disbelief over here, just going, What the hell is going on? And we were all, everyone was scared and everyone was angry and everyone was, you know, we, we, we went through that with you, you know, not, not in the same way obviously, because we’re at a distance, but I just remember so many people feeling in despair. Over here as well.

And you know, I I, I remember so clearly writing a blog post that said, Right, this is your sign. You have to stand up. You have to stand up out of the darkness. Or don’t– not have to, I don’t like the have to word, but you know, if you are feeling some form of like, you know, energetic emotion, like stand up, say something.

This is, this is where we have to stand up because. You know, my my background is my grandparents were prisoners of war and in concentration camps in the second World War.

[00:32:32] Caitlin Fisher: Oh, wow.

[00:32:33] Tamara Protassow: And you know, I, I’m just here by, by pure accident that they survived those things. And, you know, my grandmother, my Bubba she just always told stories. You know, and she all, she told stories about that time from when I was very small, but she really calibrated them for children, you know, So it was, it was like sort of the, the brothers grim fairy tales, you know, They, they were scary stories, but they were also stories. But what really struck me as I got older is that she talked about the people who stood up.

She talked about the people who kept that flame of hope alive and that really informs a lot of my thinking in this area. Just if you, even if your version of standing up while the world burns is having conversation with your neighbor and making that connection with someone, that can be enough. You know, it’s, it’s, it doesn’t have to be a viral blog post or social media post or whatever.

It can be enough just to make a connection with another person, because that’s how we survive. Yes. And that to me, sort of underpins a lot of what I do. It’s like this is, this is the time to stand up. That’s why back in 2016, that, that blog post, it got the most replies I’ve ever had. I didn’t even know my dad was on my list.

Oh. So, you know, I sent this thing out and it was about, you know, now now’s the time to stand up now, you know, stand up. The forces of darkness are alive. Like we don’t want the conditions that happen prior to Second World War happening again. Like, we need to have our voices out there. We need to be heard and and stuff.

And even my dad, who, like, you know, he’ll talk on the phone or in person, but he never replies to emails. He, he replied to that email and was like, this is like, he’s very, very, he’s not a verbose man, so , he was like, ‘This was a good one,’ and that’s it. That’s all I got. And I was like, Wow, that must have done something.

Yeah. I’m like, Wow. Okay. . Yeah. Then I went through a whole period where I felt like I couldn’t be visible cuz my dad was watching. So guess who’s not on my list anymore? .

[00:34:59] Caitlin Fisher: Oh no!

[00:35:00] Tamara Protassow: I was like, I’m so sorry. He wouldn’t have noticed. I email him, you know, just occasionally going, This is what I’m doing, just to keep him happy.

But, you know, Yeah. And that’s created, that’s looking after me. It’s creating conditions where I can continue to do my, my work in the world without feeling like I’m being scrutinized all the time. Yeah. And again, so important for creativity.

[00:35:21] Caitlin Fisher: Definitely. The, a lot of what my clients have dealt with, and even myself, is feeling like we’re gonna get something wrong. Like if we stand up, we’re gonna get, we’re gonna get called out, like we’re going to, we’re gonna misstep, we’re going to somehow do it wrong and feel bad and guilty and shamey. And so we’re like pre shaming ourselves into never standing up. Mm. And I’m like, you know, we’re going to, let’s see, this episode we’re recording on September 1st or September 2nd, depending on if you’re in Ohio or Australia.

But this episode’s gonna come out later in October, actually. So previous to this episode, we’ll have some on like cancel culture and call outs and things like that and like Like how to stand up for causes online without sort of like this self censorship problem. So it will be discussed before this episode, but it’s so interesting to me.

Like I, I planned this season to be like discrete topics, right. But no, they’re all, they’re all part of it. Yeah. And that’s why I go with themes so that, like the theme of this season is like the renaissance, like art and creativity coming from a dark age.

[00:36:35] Tamara Protassow: Mm. Totally.

[00:36:37] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, like, so Yes. Stand up. Yes. Make noise. Yes. Light it up. Like burn it down. Whatever metaphor we’re doing right now. You know, be a bright, shiny light and like be willing to get it wrong a little. Like be willing to have to learn, like everything is a learning process. Writing a book is a learning process. Learning to paint, learning to draw, like it’s all learning process.

I can’t draw faces. I can’t draw hands. So when I do paintings, they’re very artfully… You don’t see faces or hands like, because I haven’t learned that yet, you know?

[00:37:16] Tamara Protassow: No, I love that.

[00:37:17] Caitlin Fisher: Being willing to be an amateur or beginner at something, or even just not an absolute master of the content. The way social media and the internet is we, we kind of like expect perfection, but that doesn’t exist and it’s not possible.

[00:37:36] Tamara Protassow: You’re so right. You’re so right. And you know, like you said, mistakes are how we learn. And if you put something out, You know, someone has a problem with it, you’ve made a mistake, you learn, you go, Oh, thank you for letting me know. I’m gonna go and learn about that. Like, you know, I’m going to like, take responsibility for what I have, what I’ve said, or what I’ve written or what I’ve done.

You know, Not putting the burden of educating yourself on someone else, like actually just going, Oh, that was a blind spot for me. I, I actually didn’t realize I’m gonna go and do this. And then you come back and do it better. Like you come back and go, you know, Okay, I’ve, I’ve learnt things. This is, this is, you know, my change here.

This is, this is my growth. This is where I am now. And I’m sorry. It’s, it’s about–

[00:38:31] Caitlin Fisher: exactly. I think that that’s the goal. Like when, when a call out happens we actually saw it recently with Lizzo’s new album and then immediately followed by Beyonce’s new album. Yeah. They both had the word spaz in their lyrics.

[00:38:46] Tamara Protassow: Mm-hmm.

[00:38:47] Caitlin Fisher: and spaz in the US just sort of means like woo, like kinda wacky, crazy but spaz in the UK and possibly also Australia.

[00:38:55] Tamara Protassow: Mm-hmm.

[00:38:56] Caitlin Fisher: Because I know there’s a lot of overlap there.

[00:38:57] Tamara Protassow: Yeah.

[00:38:58] Caitlin Fisher: Like is very specifically a slur. Used for people with spastic something, I think like cerebral palsy.

[00:39:07] Tamara Protassow: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:39:07] Caitlin Fisher: So it’s like actually like a medical ableist slur.

[00:39:11] Tamara Protassow: Hmm. Yeah.

[00:39:11] Caitlin Fisher: And so there was a whole lot of backlash and lizzo just changed the lyric and was like, I didn’t know. And now I know, and I’m sorry. And I fixed it. And Beyonce, same exact thing. Like those albums come out within one to two weeks of each other.

[00:39:25] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, yeah. I watched that with so much interest, purely because of the response. I was like–

[00:39:30] Caitlin Fisher: Yes! And so you see, like you’d see some people being like, Well, it’s still blah, blah, blah. Lizzo should have known better. And it’s like, you’re just being mad now. You’re just being mad to be mad. Like is it cuz she’s black? Is it cuz she’s fat? Like you wanna talk about it? Yeah. Cause she did exactly what you say that you want people to do when they are shown this problem, so,

[00:39:52] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

[00:39:54] Caitlin Fisher: Also, just speaking of like creating while the world burns, how many amazing albums have come out since like 2020?

Right? Like we’re in this Covid pandemic. I would never be like ‘Beyonce, you need to stop cuz there’s a pandemic.’

No. Beyonce is bringing joy to the people. Yeah. I have been waiting for a new Lizzo album forever.

[00:40:16] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, I know, right?

[00:40:18] Caitlin Fisher: And just, I would never begrudge them their creativity and making money during a pandemic. So like, why would I do it? To me, a small business who like needs money to buy groceries.

[00:40:31] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, well, exactly. Exactly. And you know, they weren’t immediately born that big and successful, either, like they had to have their, I guess we call it a creative apprenticeship. You don’t start there, you know?

Or it’s very, very rare. I, I actually did know in high school one we were all in art class, you know, drawing like very, like painting, very simple fish, two dimensionally, and there was just this one guy. Just, we like paint a fish and he just did this perfect like scales, the whole, the shine, the like very gifted artist is, is now an artist as well, you know, and just has continued. But he was very gifted.

But that, that’s like so rare. , everyone else just needs to do their little creative apprenticeship. You know, the Mozarts of this world will just do their thing, but you know, everyone else is like, Okay, I’m just typing with oven mitts on today, or, you know, painting with the —

[00:41:34] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, it’s okay to be a beginner. I love talking about Stephen King’s railroad spike of rejection letters.

[00:41:42] Tamara Protassow: I love that so much. Oh!

[00:41:44] Caitlin Fisher: Like he’s Stephen King. He’s, he is well regarded as like one of the greatest authors, and he got a lot of rejections.

[00:41:55] Tamara Protassow: So many rejections that– Yeah. His book on writing is just one that I reference over and over and over again because he’s like, you know, Yeah, you, you can have talent, but then you have to have craft, you have to do the time, like you just gotta work it, work on it, work on it, work on it. It’s, yeah, it’s amazing. Mm.

[00:42:19] Caitlin Fisher: Yep. No matter what the world’s doing, like if, if there’s a talent within you, if there’s a dream within, you, if there’s a creativity and a passion within you, like Yeah. No matter what the world looks, you gotta do that. The, We had cave paintings way back in the day, like art and creativity and storytelling is part of humanity, and I think it comes out brilliantly when we really need the hope of that.

[00:42:47] Tamara Protassow: Mm. Yeah, a hundred percent. I, ah, you just keep, you know, every, every time you say something, I’m like, ah, that’s just what I was thinking. . Because yeah, I, I often say, you know, we are storytelling animals, whether that’s through words or pictures or, or song or whatever we, we are doing, we are telling each other stories, and quite often they’re the stories that, you know, make us feel something. And you know, for me it’s always about that connection. It connects us to other people, and that is basically what being human is. You know, we, we just try and get through together and if we can help other people get through by our own creativity or we help ourselves get through, then that’s what it’s for.

You know? That’s, Yeah, that’s what it’s for. You know? I mean, like, why should I do this thing? I’m like, Cause you’re human.

[00:43:36] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. Cause cuz it connects with other people because you have art and passion. Like even if you just, if you take red paint and you just swipe it across a canvas, like that’s, that’s art. It is. Congrats. You did it. Yes. You know, like, Yeah. It doesn’t have to be high brow. It doesn’t have to be impressionism. Like, you don’t have to be Picasso. And even Picasso wasn’t Picasso until he was Picasso. Like.

Totally. So, yes, the, the resounding theme of this episode is like, make stuff. Because world is bad.

[00:44:18] Tamara Protassow: Yeah.

[00:44:18] Caitlin Fisher: Because make stuff helps us feel good.

[00:44:21] Tamara Protassow: Yeah. And because human. Really simplify it and because human, you know, because human, We’ve been making stuff since we arrived, however that happened. Like we just need to keep making stuff.

[00:44:33] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. Mm. I love it. Thank you so much for being here today.

[00:44:38] Tamara Protassow: Oh, it has been an absolute pleasure and just so much fun. Thank you.

[00:44:43] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. And thanks for getting up early tomorrow morning to record this with me tonight.

[00:44:50] Tamara Protassow: Awesome.

[00:44:52] Caitlin Fisher: So tell us where we can find you online and if, you know, if you’re promoting anything. I think you mentioned an accountability membership, so yeah, tell us the deets on, on how to work with you, if any aspiring writers who maybe don’t vibe perfectly with meme and vibe with you.

[00:45:09] Tamara Protassow: Yeah, I was, I was gonna say, well, Caitlin’s right here.

[00:45:13] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. Like I’m here. I know they hear my shit all the time.

[00:45:17] Tamara Protassow: That’s fine. Yeah, you can check out my website, which is And that’s got all my stuff on it. Or I’m also on Facebook, which is at Tamara Protassow. And spelling will be in the show notes here somewhere.

[00:45:29] Caitlin Fisher: Sure will!.

[00:45:29] Tamara Protassow: And I’m on Instagram as @Book.Write.Now. And that’s right as in w-r-i-t-e. So I’m on Insta as well. Yeah. And I don’t know, I I, the membership you were mentioning, that’s Book Write Now With Me, which is where I write my book alongside other authors writing theirs, and that’s just monthly membership. We do weekly calls where we write and one call a month where we talk and check in about our books.

[00:45:58] Caitlin Fisher: I like it.

[00:45:59] Tamara Protassow: Mm. But that’s, that’s, you know, it’s all findable websites, socials, blah, blah.

[00:46:04] Caitlin Fisher: Yep. I’ll, I will point, I will point them to the links in the show notes. So thank you again. Thank you so much for being here with us.

[00:46:12] Tamara Protassow: Oh, it, as I said, absolute pleasure and you’re so welcome.

Published by Caitlin

Caitlin writes and coaches about trauma recovery, relationships, motivation and confidence, self-love, queer identity, and social justice. They are the author of The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation. Find their work at

3 thoughts on “How to Create While the World Burns with Tamara Protassow | #61

  1. I always see creating as a direct — and I mean direct — response to the abyss. Like the most courageous thing we could is BE and MAKE in the teeth of sadness. In that way, creating — for me — is protest.


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