NoNoWriMo Tips: Week Four

We’ve made it to the last week of NaNoWriMo! As we enter into the final days of NaNo, you will find yourself in one of two camps. You will either be right on schedule with your word count and be thrilled to finally see the light at the end of the 50,000-word tunnel, or you will be woefully behind and not see anyway you can reach 50,000 words by the end of the month.

(Okay, there are actually three camps. Some of you overachievers have already finished NaNo, but we aren’t going to talk about you because you make the rest of us look bad. 😛 )

If you are in the former camp, then congratulations! You are almost to the finish line. If you are in the latter camp, don’t despair just yet. The month isn’t over, and neither is your chance to write your story.

In today’s post, I’ll be giving tips to guide you though this last week (and those extra four days of the following week) for each camp.

First, advise to those of you who are on track.

 

Celebrate your success, but don’t slack off

It is easy to take a look at your success and think you deserve a day off. Well, you do, and there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a break day after all your hard work. Just make sure that one rest day doesn’t snowball into several, or before you know it, the whole week will get away from you.

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Because there aren’t many words left in comparison to when we started this goal, it is easy to think that it is smooth sailing from here. You may think, “I’ve written 40,000 words so far, what’s another 10,000?  I can do that in two or three days. I don’t need a week and a half.”

It is great that you are feeling confident, but don’t let that (well-deserved) confidence influence you to make poor decisions.

If you want to give yourself a day off, make sure you come right back to it the next day. You’ve kept your daily writing commitment so far, don’t get off track now.

 

Use that almost-to-the-finish-line momentum, but don’t burn out

You may have the opposite reaction to being so close to the NaNoWriMo finish line and be ready to charge full speed ahead. This is generally how I get as NaNo draws to a close. Being so close to finishing gives me a renewed sense of excitement and determination (similar to week one). I start thinking that I should double my writing sessions or make a new, higher daily word-count goal.

I either do this because I’m thinking how good it will feel to finish early, or because I want to be an overachiever and have more than 50,000 words by the end of November.

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This never works, however. I end up maintaining my extreme, self-imposed goal for a few days, but then feel weighted down and burned out towards the end of the week.

I’ve learned to keep my original writing goal, but allow writing sessions to go longer if they do so naturally.

If you are so excited about writing the ending of your novel that you sit for six hours straight and pump out 8,000 words, then go for it. But don’t feel like you have to up the ante to finish early or to finish more of your novel because you are writing a Sci-fi or fantasy and know it won’t be finished in 50,000 words. (Yes, that last one is me 😀 ). Steady writing sessions is what got you this far, and steady writing session will carry you to the finish line.

Now, for advice to those of you who are a bit behind.

 

Be realistic

I could tell you that you should never give up on winning NaNo, no matter how far behind you are, but that would be cruel. I don’t know how far behind you are on your word count, and it could actually be impossible to write enough words everyday to finish on time.

I’m not saying that you should give up, but definitely take a few moments to calculate how many words you have left and how many you would need to write daily to finish (actually, the NaNoWriMo website will do this for you).

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If you need to write 10,000 words a day and you realistically only have an hour to write after work, well yes, it might be time to set NaNo aside (unless you have some writing ninja skills the rest of us mortals don’t have 😉 ).

If you know there is no way you can catch up at this point, skip down to You don’t have to write 50,000 words in a month to be a winner.

Other wise…

 

Don’t give up

If your words-per-day- goal is challenging but doable, than go for it! You may have to get creative in finding more time to write. You may have some long writing sessions and may have to give up doing some other things. But pushing yourself extra hard this week will be worth it, not just to win NaNo, but to finish your novel.

Think about it…you are going to have a finished NOVEL in just a little over a week! Isn’t that worth making some sacrifices for? (Okay, well it isn’t quite a finished novel…there’s still all the drafting and editing…but let’s not think about that just yet.)

Think about how amazing it will be to be able to say that you’ve written a novel. Anytime you began to feel overwhelmed when thinking about the sheer amount of words you have left, think about how good it will feel that you turned that story idea into a freaking, actual novel.

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Remember not to stress about making every scene perfect. The goal of NaNo is to force you to put words on the page. Those words don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be there.

Keep this quote in mind.

 “When I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” –Shannon Hale

 

You don’t have to write 50,000 words in a month to be a winner

In the grand sceam of things, NaNo is just a month where we challenge ourselves to commit to writing everyday. It may feel life-consuming during November, but when December rolls around, life keeps moving just the way it always has.

Nothing terrible will happen if you don’t write 50,000 words by the end of the month. You won’t be forced to wear a badge that says “failed author” or made to delete your NaNo account. Your WIP will still be there after November.

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I know it is still disappointing to fall short of a goal, especially one we are so passionate about, but remind yourself that you tried your best. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise that put a halt to even the most carefully-laid plans.

Think about everything that happened this month. Maybe you got sick, or had an unexpected family or work emergency. Maybe you had to take on an extra project at work or had to work more hours. Maybe your classes at school or college were more challenging than expected and you couldn’t devote as much time to writing as you thought.

If something like this is the reason your are unable to complete NaNo, then don’t be hard on yourself. Celebrate the fact that you worked hard on your novel in spite of the fact that you had a lot of other things going on in your life.  You are courageous for committing to working towards your dream to write a novel.

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Maybe you are thinking over this month and see that there wasn’t anything that prevented you from sticking to your writing commitment.

Don’t feel bad about that either!

Maybe this was your first time trying NaNo and you found writing 1,677 words a day to be more challenging than you thought. You should be proud of yourself for trying something new!

Whatever the reason you are unable to complete NaNo, know that you didn’t fail because you didn’t reach 50,000 words. You won because you still wrote more words than you would have if you didn’t try. You won because you pushed yourself to grow as a writer.

Whether you are ahead or behind, finished already or unable to complete NaNo, we all have one thing in common. We took a chance in November to dream, to believe in ourselves as writers, and to believe in our stories.

No matter our word count, we are ending November as stronger writers with a better understanding of our stories.

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

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If you want to see if I finish NaNoWriMo or not, follow me on Instagram. I post updates in my stories. 🙂

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NoNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

 

Some people say that week two is the hardest, but I’ve always found the third week to be the most difficult to find motivation. Sure, in week two, some of the shininess and newness of NaNo and my WIP wears off, but there is still enough magic to keep me motivated.

If you can make it through week three, you are a hardened NaNo warrior.

It is week three that makes me question my sanity for signing up to write 50,000 words in a month, and leaves me certain that all these words are in vain because I’m going to delete the pile of nonsense as soon as the month is over.

To get through week three, here are some things to remember. (I’m sure I’m going to be rereading this myself.)

 

Your novel isn’t garbage.

At this point, you may feel like your novel is a heaping pile of garbage. No surprise, since you’ll be working your way through the middle of your novel, and that is notoriously the most difficult part to write.

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If you are ready to archive your novel’s folder in a place you’ll never have to look at it again and forget reaching that daunting 50,000 words, know that you aren’t alone. The great thing about NaNo is, you have thousands of other writers who are going through the same things you are.

Doesn’t make you feel better?

Yeah, knowing there are other people feeling as lost as I am on their novels didn’t make me feel better either. Why do NaNo Pep talks assume it does? 😀

Anyway, I do have something that will make you feel better. At least, this little exercise works for me.

Grab a sheet of paper or sticky note. Now, write down three things that you really like about what you’ve written so far. It could be a scene, a character who has really come to life in this draft, a favorite line of dialogue. Or even the fact that you’ve written half a novel!

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Keep this list somewhere you can see it. Stick it on your computer screen. Place it on your desk. Read it before you start writing or any time you feel like giving up.

Sure, there may be some things about your WIP that need fixing, but that’s why we don’t stop with the first draft. No one’s first draft is ready for publication. Focus on the things you are proud of, and remember that the purpose of a first draft is just to get the words on the page so you’ll have something to work with later.

 

Don’t be stressed about falling behind.

You may be a little behind at this point. Or maybe you are way behind and are scared you’ll never catch up.

First, take a deep breath.

What is going to happen if you don’t reach 50,000 words? Will the NaNo police come nab you and give you a life sentence that forbids you from writing? Will all the other NaNo writers show up to your house to shame you for not completing NaNo?

Sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping they’d post your picture on the home page with the words NaNo’s Biggest Loser underneath, but nothing so grandly dramatic is going to happen.

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If for some reason you aren’t able to catch up and the end of November comes around to find your novel at 40,000 words or 25,000 words, then so what? Nothing bad happens. You can keep working on your story in December. You can walk away from NaNo knowing that you have more words down than if you didn’t participate.

But don’t give up on reaching that goal just yet. NaNo is full of ups and downs. You may be in a writing slump today, but tomorrow may bring a 5,000-word writing sprint that catches you up.

You still have the rest of this week and week four. You may be surprised at how many words you can crank out as NaNo comes to an end. 🙂

Remember why you started.

Why did you chose to write this story? Was it because you fell in love with the characters? Because the plot was absolutely thrilling? Because the world you imagined was stunning?

12 New Year's Resolutions from Disney Princesses – As Told by Laura

Reach back to those things that made you excited to start on this story. Pretend you are getting the story idea for the first time. Close your eyes and imagine that first scene you saw, or the first character that came to you. Spend a few minutes going through the first notes you took, or write something new that focuses on that one thing that made you excited to start writing back on November first.

You may choose to write a paragraph of your favorite character rambling to you, or bring more detail to a worldbuilding aspect, or dive deeper into a plot twist.

Remembering why you started writing this story will give you the strength to keep writing. Your characters deserve it, your world deserves it, you deserve it.

Keep writing! After this week, next week will fly by.

 

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

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NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

We’ve made it to week two! If week one went well, your excitement and motivation is probably still high. I am still riding the high of finishing a whole week of NaNoWriMo and ready to see even more progress this week.

Having said this, I know this enthusiasm is about to take a dive as quickly as my energy when a caffeine high wears off.

Which leads me to my first tip about week two of NaNo…

Enjoy the NaNo high, but don’t count on it.

Enjoy the rush while you can, but don’t count on it pulling you though the month.

I don’t say this to scare you. But on my first NaNo, around this time I was thinking, “This is pretty easy. I’m so motivated. NaNo is like a magic elixir giving me writing superpowers!”

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Then disaster hits….

Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but all that sparkly NaNo magic usually disappears by the end of week two or beginning of week three. If you aren’t ready for it, you may wonder what went wrong. Or decide that because writing isn’t as exciting as it was during week one, that something is wrong with your story.

I’m warning you now. Be prepared to have those rose-colored, NaNo glasses ripped off your face, but don’t let the change in scenery make you quit.

Celebrate your progress.

When the rush of excitement leaves, keep your motivation by looking at the progress you’ve made. You are probably around the 11,000 to 16,000 word mark by this time (depending on when you are reading this).

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That is a large chunk of your novel! You’ve written more words than you would have in a normal writing week/week and a half. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on your progress.

Celebrate your wins, and don’t worry that it doesn’t feel as new and shiny as it did in week one.

Don’t delete words.

I am guilty of stopping to rework sentences and paragraphs while writing the first draft. Editing while drafting may seem like you are giving yourself a smoother draft to go over later, but if your goal is to write 1,667 words in an hour and a half, you are going to fall behind quickly if you stop to reread and rewrite every paragraph.

Rereading also leads to deleting words. Lines of dialogue that sound stiff, descriptions that are bland, or awkward sentences beg to be deleted. But every time you delete a sentence, you are shortening your word count and making it more difficult to reach your goal for that day.

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I get it. Sometimes it is unavoidable to read over the last lines. I’m not saying that you should never look back at what you wrote. Just be careful not to spend too much time trying to rework a paragraph or find the “perfect” adjective to describe your character’s home-knit sweater.

If you find yourself cringing at something you wrote and your finger is hovering over the delete key, do this instead; Put a line through it.  This way it still counts towards your word count, but you don’t have to worry that you won’t catch it when reading over your draft later.

Remember to give yourself a break.

Chances are, you’ve lived, breathed, and ate NaNo for the last week. That word-count goal is the first thing on your mind when you wake up, your next scene is the thing you daydream about in traffic, and your characters are there to talk your ear off before you go to sleep.  (If it hasn’t been this way for you, then I’m not sure whether to congratulate you or to tell you to step up your level of commitment. 😉 )

In the whirlwind that is the first week, you may be able to keep up a hectic pace, but most of us won’t be able to keep that same level of intensity for the whole month.

Of course staying motivated, working hard, and exercising your self-discipline is important, but you don’t want to burn out before the month is over.

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Make sure that you carve out a time during the week NOT to think about NaNo, word counts, or that one character that might as well be replaced by a plant for all the lifeless dialogue they spit out.

I like to give myself Sunday off. I write much better during the week when I have one day to recharge. To do this, I need to write more words during the week or double the words on Saturday. This way, I’m not falling behind during my break day and having to play catch up when I start back. This would defeat the purpose of a break day because I would spend it feeling guilty that I’d purposely made the decision to fall behind or worrying that I wouldn’t be able to make the double word-count goal the next day.

It gives me an extra 277 words a day (or 3,334 words on Saturday), but it is worth it to me to have a guiltless break during the week.

Even if you prefer not to take a whole day off, or can’t take a whole day off, carve out some time during the week to give yourself permission to give your writer’s brain a rest. Take a walk, soak in a bath, or listen to an audiobook.

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Giving yourself a scheduled time to take a guilt-free break makes it less likely that you will be too burned out to write one day and fall behind. It is much harder to write double the words when we perceive that we are behind or have “failed” than it is to write double the words when we see it as getting ahead or doing extra.

Now that you are ready for week two, get to writing! 😉 I’ll be back next week, and we’ll conquer week three together.

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

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NaNoWriMo Tips: Week One

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month! I am stoked to be doing this again after taking a few years off.  I’m also a bit nervous because it feels like my first time all over again.

I took some time to think about how I completed NaNoWriMo in previous years….what worked and didn’t work…what helped me get through the month. Because I don’t have enough writing to do this month, I decided to write them all down and share them with you. 😉

I’ll be walking you through each week of NaNo as they come, so you won’t be alone in the ups and down that come with writing 50,000 words in a month.

These posts will give you an expectation of the unique challenges each week brings and the tools to overcome those challenges so you can finish your novel (or if you are a long-winded writer like me, half of your novel).

Week one is the easiest, since we are excited and motivated to start. But there are still a few things to keep in mind during this week to set yourself up for success for the rest of the month.

Set time aside to write in advance.

Thinking that you will do it “whenever you have time that day” usually means that everything else pulling for your attention is what you do instead. Having a set time will ensure that you don’t get to the end of your day and realize you have a mound of words to write.

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No one wants to stay up two hours past their bedtime to write (well, unless inspiration hits 🙂 ). Or even worse, go days without writing, and then have to write 10,000 words in one day to catch up.

Everyone’s optimal time to write is different. You may want to get up earlier for a before-work writing session, or you may find that writing after dinner works best for you.

It is okay if this time you set aside fluctuates a bit. In my previous years of NaNo, I did the majority of my writing in the evenings, but also had my share of writing sessions before I left for work just to change things up a bit.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach your daily word-count goal.

This one kills me. I use to feel like I “lost” that day if I didn’t write those 1,667 words, even if I did my intended writing session. The fact that I’d used all of my scheduled writing time and still didn’t reach the daily goal made me feel worse. I felt that I’d “wasted” it because I would be starting the next day out at a deficit.

Don’t do this! Allowing yourself to feel like you “didn’t make it” that day will only make you lose momentum, and it will be harder to start writing the next day.

Instead of thinking that you somehow “failed” that day, remind yourself that you showed up and wrote for the amount of time you said promised yourself you would.

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If you have a set time to write and you actually sat yourself down and got some words out during that time, then you win for that day.

I’ve learned that word count ebbs and flows during NaNoWriMo. One day you barely make 1,000 and others you write 3,000. Don’t sweat it if you fall behind. You’ll make it up another day.

Be creative in finding time to write.

During my previous NoNoWriMos, I was lucky enough to have a job that went though waves of business, and then would be completely dead, so I would always bring my laptop incase I had some spare time to work on my story.

If you don’t have that luxury, you may still be able to squeeze in some writing time on you lunch break. Of course this depends on how long your break is and how long it takes to get to a nearby restaurant and get your order. You may want to bring your own lunch for this month to give you a bit of extra time.

If writing during lunch isn’t an option, you can still sneak in some “writing.”

For days I knew it would be too busy to bother bringing my laptop out, I could still jot some notes about what might happen in the next scene or add something to a character’s backstory.

It wasn’t adding to my word count, but it did save me some time when I sat down to write later. I would already have some idea how the scene would go, or I wouldn’t have to stop and think why this character would react this way because of the notes I took earlier.

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If your job is so demanding that you’re laughing and shaking your head at the thought of even taking a few notes on your phone, don’t sweat it. This is why you have you designated time to write.

Enjoy it!

The most important thing to do during NaNo is to enjoy it. Sure, you are going to have your ups and downs during the month, but overall you should have a deep satisfaction that you are making such huge progress on your WIP.

Enjoy the ride! I’ll be back next week for tips on how to make week two a success. 🙂

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Two

NaNoWriMo Tips: Week Three

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The Luckiest of Colors

The Luckiest of Colors

Katrin glowered at the two messy braids trailing down either side of her shoulders. Their coppery tones were even more bright with the fire casting its orange glow on them.

“It is your fault I’m out here,” she muttered.

She was the only child in her village with red hair, and that’s why her parents didn’t like her. Her mother would look at her, sigh, and tell her that they should have used black tea and sage to darken her hair before anyone saw her flaming locks. Her father thought she was bad luck and would blame every accident or ill fortune the family had on her. If Katrin caught a cold, it was because she was redheaded. If her brother fell and scraped his knee while playing with her, it was because of her hair. If a storm blew through and blew the shingles off the roof, if the crops didn’t grow well, if foxes came for their hens, it was all because of Katrin’s red hair.

And that’s why Katrin had to run away. She knew she was too young to be on her own—only eight—but she couldn’t stand anymore disgusted looks from her father and pitying ones from her mother. She would prove that she wasn’t “bad luck.” She would live on her own for a few days, and when no illness befell her, no trees fell on her, and nothing else happened that could be blamed on her hair, then that would prove that it must be someone else bringing the bad luck.

Katrin pulled a leaf from one of her tangled braids. She threw it into the fire, hoping it would give it a little more life, but the dying flame hardly seemed to notice Katrin’s offering.

“This is bad luck,” Katrin whispered to herself. She desperately searched the ground within the fire’s ring of dim light, but didn’t see any twigs she could add. Katrin gave a nervous glace at the shadowy trees around her, beyond the firelight. Her eyes played tricks on her, making the darkness wriggle and slide in way that made her sure something was out there, watching her.

As much as she didn’t want her only light to fizzle out, she was terrified of going out there to gather more firewood.

Katrin hadn’t been scared when she left her house before dawn, or while following a deer trial through the woods, or even as the sun began to set as she gathered firewood. But now that the moon was just a sliver in the sky and the sparks from the fire the only stars, she wished more than anything that she hadn’t left her house.

She may not have been allowed to throw wood in the fire (because her father thought her bad luck might cause the house to burn down), but at least there was a fire.

She wished she had gathered more branches, but hadn’t expected the wood to burn so quickly. She had been so proud when she lite the fire with the matches she took from the house, just like her brother showed her when her father wasn’t around. She had watched the flames leap unto the branches she collected and wished her parents could see her now. He father couldn’t say she was bad luck. She started a fire and nothing bad happened!

Katrin curled up in a ball and squeezed her eyes shut. She should go to sleep before the fire went out. Then she couldn’t be afraid of the dark because it was dark when she slept anyway. But Katrin didn’t feel any safer with her eyes closed. She kept imagining shapeshifting animals from the stories coming for her. They would start as tiny bunnies coming out from the shadows, then they would morph into wolves that howled and snarled.

When the sun rose, she would go straight back to her house. Being left out of every game the other village children played and having adults scowl at her when she walked by was better than being eaten by shapeshifting bunny-wolves.

Katrin bolted upright as an owl called out. She loved listening to owls from her bedroom at night, but out here they sounded menacing, like they were calling her to step out beyond the fire’s light so they would swoop down on her.

“Forget sleeping,” Katrin said. She made herself stand and inched toward the edge of the fire’s light. She froze. Did something move out there?

She listened, but didn’t hear any rustling.

Katrin took a deep breath, like she was about to dunk her head in the creek, as she moved from the fire’s small ring of orange light.

She squinted at the dark ground and let out a breath of relief when she found a stick. She swooped on it and kept looking.”

“One, two, thr—” Katrin let out a yelp.

Two silver eyes peered from the darkness just a few feet from the stick she was about to grab. She withdrew her hand and clutched her two sticks to her chest like they could shield her from whatever it was the eyes belonged to. A raccoon? A wolf?

There was the soft rustle and the eyes began to move. Towards her.

Katrin held the sticks out, one in each hand.

“Don’t come near me or I’ll hit you!” she said, even though she knew animals didn’t understand words.

The eyes kept moving.

“Ahh!” Katrin yelled and thrashed the sticks through the air, hoping to scare the animal. It stopped coming towards her, but it didn’t go away. Now that it was standing just in front of her, she could see that it wasn’t a very big animal. Bigger than a raccoon, but much smaller than a wolf. It hardly came to her knees. She could make out a slim body, pointed ears, a slender snout, and a long fluffy tail.

“A fox?” she asked. The silver eyes blinked at her. It’s tail twitched and Katrin thought it might pounce, but that isn’t what it did at all. Instead, it stayed where it was at, but it was definitely still moving.

The shadowy figure of a fox began to waver, dark shapes bubbled and morphed in the darkness in front of her.

Katrin walked backwards until she was back by the fire, still holding the sticks out. It was a shapeshifter. She was sure of it. Maybe the little fox was about to turn into a bear.

Her heart was beating so hard that she heard it in her ears. She was about to run, when a boy stepped into firelight.

He was about her height and looked to be eight like her. His hair and eyes were silver.

“You have red hair,” the boy said.

Katrin forgot to be scared. “Red hair? You’re a fox who just turned into a boy, and that’s what you are worried about? My red hair!”

“I’m a boy who turns into a fox.”

“I know that!” Katrin sputtered, still miffed that he pointed out her hair right away. Apparently, even forest animals didn’t like girls with red hair.

“You said that I’m a fox who turns into a boy, but I’m a boy who can turn into a fox. There’s a difference.” The boy smirked like he said something clever.

“Great. But you are still a fox boy. That’s weirder than having red hair.”

“I didn’t say your hair was weird.”

Katrin was about to say, “Yes, you did,” but then she realized that he actually didn’t say that. “Why did you say I have red hair then?”

“Because you do.”

“You have silver hair,” Katrin shot back, still not sure if this boy was insulting her or not.

“Yep.” The boy looked very pleased with himself.

And silver eyes,” Katrin said as if that would get to him.

The boy clapped his hands slowly. “You know your colors. Good for you. Or at least red and silver. What about the color of that tree over there.” He pointed to the darkness beyond the fire.

Katrin clenched her teeth, trying to think of something to say back. Oh, this will make him mad. “I see why you are a fox. I bet no one likes you when you are a boy.”

“I bet no one likes you either.”

Katrin smacked his shoulder with one of her sticks. “Go away!”

He held his hands up. “I didn’t mean that they shouldn’t not like you. I just meant that they don’t. Because of your red hair and everything.”

Katrin could feel tears prickling eyes. Even out here in the woods, she couldn’t escape people who teased her because of her hair.

The boy’s silver eyes widened a bit, then darted to the fire. He looked uncomfortable. Katrin wondered if he saw that she was about to cry. “I didn’t mean…I meant that people don’t understand us.”

“Us?” Katrin’s voice came out wavery.

“Yeah. Us shapeshifters.”

“I didn’t know they were people,” Katrin said. In the stories, they were always animals who turned into bigger, scarier animals.

The boy’s sliver eyes blinked and he cocked his head to one side. “Aren’t you a shapeshifter?”

“Of course not. Why would you think I am a shapeshifter?”

“Because you have red hair,” he said at the same time.

“What does that have to do with it?” She, frowning.

“People with red hair turn into red foxes. Just like people with sliver hair,” he pointed at himself, “turn into silver foxes.”

Katrin wished she could turn into a fox. Then she wouldn’t be afraid of being in the forest at night.

“I can’t turn into a fox,” Katrin said, shaking her head.

“How old are you?” the boy asked, tilting his head in thought.

“Eight.”

“Yeah, you have plenty of time before your awakening.”

“What is an awakening?”

“It’s when a shapeshifter first turns into their animal. It happens around eight, nine, or ten.”

Katrin wanted it to be true. If she could be a fox, then the woods could be her home, and she wouldn’t have to go back to her parents. Weather she was bad luck or not.

“Someone would have told me if I was a shapeshifter,” Katrin said. “My parents never told me that one day I would turn into a fox.”

He shook his head. “They wouldn’t. Normal people are afraid of us.

“They aren’t afraid.” Katrin sighed. “They’re just mean.”

“Nah, they act mean because they are afraid of what you can do.”

“I can’t do anything.”

“Yet.” The boy gave a her a smile.

Katrin shook he head. “I need to go back home. Can you take me there?” The woods would be a lot less scary with a fox boy beside her.

“I can. Or I can take you to our village.” He turned and stared walking.

“Wait.” Katrin didn’t want to be alone again, but she wasn’t sure she should follow him. “What village?”

“The one all of the shapeshifters live in.”

“But I’m not a—”

He turned back around and rolled his eyes at her. “If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be out here.”

Katrin hesitated. Maybe she was a shapeshifter, and that was why everyone acted so strange around her. They were scared she would one day turn into a fox, right in front of their faces.

But maybe she wasn’t a shapeshifter. She could get him to take her home and then tell everyone that she’d survived a night in the woods without anything bad happening. That might be enough to prove that she wasn’t unlucky.

“Can you take me back home?” she asked.

He shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”

She smiled at the thought of going back to a big warm fire and a bed and all her dolls.

She frowned. Back to her mother’s disappointed looks and her father’s blaming of her for everything that went wrong.

Katrin stepped up beside him. “Let’s go to your village.”

The boy grinned and his silver eyes glinted in the dying firelight. “Are you going to keep those sticks the whole way.”

“Yeah,” she grinned and whispered, “There are foxes in these woods, you know.”

“Yep. Two of them.”

Katrin liked the sound of that. She wasn’t the only one with an odd hair color anymore.

Katrin put both sticks in the single flame left of the fire and watched them light. She handed one to the boy.

As they walked into the darkness, flaming sticks held high, Katrin looked down at her messy braids. They reflected the flame’s orange light.

She smiled. You’re the reason I’m on my way to a new home.  

As Katrin skittered through the shadows, listening to the boy describe her new home, she thought of something that she’d never thought of before. Maybe red hair was the luckiest of colors.

My Path to Healing

Hi Epic Dreamers!

This is kind of a part 3 to the last two posts I wrote, but I didn’t want to call it “Attaching Self-Worth to Achievements part 3” because we aren’t talking about worth or achievements. Instead, I’ll be sharing the steps that helped me to take a step back from this idea that I was only as worthy as the things I achieved.

This post will make sense even if you haven’t read the previous two, but if you would like to read the posts leading up to this one, here are the links.

 

In these previous posts, I share how attaching my self-worth to my accomplishments caused a tremendous amount of difficulty for me to do the things I love (mainly writing stories).  I also explained how this damaging belief that I was only worth what I accomplished came from my family and the way I was treated as a child.

Because I don’t want to leave you all on a sad note, today I’m going to wrap up these series of posts by sharing some things that are helping me heal.

It is my hope that they will be a guide to helping you to move past any damaging beliefs so you can become a more authentic version of yourself.

 

Recognizing who and what caused the damaging habit/belief

For me, the deeply engrained belief that my worth was attached to checklist of achievement came from being raised by narcissistic parents who were incapable of seeing me as anything more than an extension of themselves instead of an individual with separate wants and desires from their own.

Mika in Arendelle — Okay can we talk about how freaking awesome the...

I was given the message that I was only “loved” when I did something that helped them in some way. I wasn’t love because of who I was– their daughter–I was “loved” (given displays of affection) because of what I gave them (an ego boost or tasks I did for them).

It isn’t until you’ve recognized the reason for the belief that you can do something about it.

 

Gather information

If your self-sabotaging belief came from childhood (which most, if not all, do) then it is helpful to spend some time learning about what exactly it was that you went through, rather than simply knowing your childhood was rough or that something just didn’t feel right between you and your parents or siblings.

Gillian flynn GIF on GIFER - by Silverweaver

I’ve spent the last year or so learning about narcissistic traits, affects of being raised by a narcissist , CPTSD, dissociation, and other topics like those.

I’m not going to say much else on this topic, because I think it would be better to let the experts do the talking. 😉

Crappy Childhood Fairy

Dr. Tracey Marks

These are the YouTube channels I’ve found most helpful in learning about these topics. If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, had an emotionally-abusive parent, or any kind of toxic or abusive relationship, I highly recommend spending some time with these wonderful, insightful people.

 

 

Limiting contact with toxic people

If you realize that a person or group of people are at the root of your damaging belief, then it might be time to put some space between you and them.

I’m not saying that the moment you realize your friend/dad/grandma treats you in a way that is toxic that you should unfriend them on Facebook, block their number, and refuse to speak to them if you happen to bump into each other. But I am saying that, for me, learning to put emotional and physical distance between me and the people who were at the root of my self-sabotaging belief was the only way for me to begin healing.

Heal GIFs | Tenor

This may not be the case for you. You may be able to talk to the person who unknowingly caused you heartache and make changes in the relationship so that it can continue without compromising your well-being.

Sadly, this is not the case in my situation. I had to learn the hard way that there wasn’t any reconciling the relationship, and found that keeping my distance was the healthiest thing I could do.

The reason for this isn’t to be mean or spiteful. It is to protect the progress you’ve made. It is difficult–maybe even impossible–to grow and heal if you keep subjecting yourself to the very thing that made you broken in the first place.

protect gifs Page 2 | WiffleGif

Putting distance will look different for everyone. It could mean going to events with the person, but not sharing anything personal with them. It could mean only speaking to the person over the phone, where it is easier to make a get away if they begin to speak to you in a manner that isn’t healthy.

I’m not saying that once you put some distance between them and you that magically everything will fall into place and all you unhealthy beliefs/thinking patterns will go away. It is like this quote from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, “Shame started as a two-person experience, but as I got older I learned how to do shame all by myself.”

But if you are trying to cultivate self-respect, self-love, and self-worth, keeping people around who continuously plant the opposite in you is counterproductive.

You can’t grow a plant if you keep allowing someone to trample all over it. You can’t grow emotionally if you let someone continue to stomp out the work you’ve done.

 

Take time for self-reflection 
A huge part of recovery, for me, came through meditation. It was only when I learned to settle my mind and look at my behaviors and emotions through a detached, but empathetic lens that I was able to let go of beliefs that weren’t true.
Alex In Colour
Take some time to look at what is going on internally. Be honest with yourself, but also be compassionate. Take some time to give yourself the comfort that no one else in your life gave you.
If you want to give meditation a try, I absolutely adore the beautiful, meditative music by Mei-lan.

Knowing someone who likes you for who you are, not what you do

First, having just ONE person (my husband) in my life that is able to cut through the crappy self-image that has been thrust on me has been detrimental to being able to heal. Being shown that love isn’t something that is conditioned by what you contribute or by whose ego you stroke has been lifechanging.  I can’t describe the absolute lifeline that my husband has been for me in the last few years. He shows the same love and respect for me whether I publish a book or not, whether I am healthy or not, whether I have a great financial contribution or not. It doesn’t matter if I am achieving or simply being, he doesn’t change his love/respect for me.

Paradise by your dashboard light — and at last I see the light and at last  they kiss...

I don’t think that it was a coincidence that it wasn’t until after he came into my life that I realized how toxic some people/beliefs were and began to heal. (Guardian angels do exist…sometimes they are in the form of people 🙂 )

I realize that everyone doesn’t have a person in their lives like this. I didn’t for most of my life. I wish I could give you a step-by-step guide for finding someone who will cut through the crap and let you know you are worthy of love and connection even when you fail/get sick/have a set back. But a checklist to finding a someone like that doesn’t exist. At the risk of sounding cavalier, I believe that the right person will come into your life at the right time.

If this is you right now, I am truly, truly sorry. My heart goes out to you. I know what it is like to be disappointed by those who should have had your back. I wish I could wave a wand and bring a supportive person into your life immediately.

Conclusion
Am I saying that I am “healed” and never feel the need to compare myself against my accomplishments to see how I measure up in the worth-something-as-human-being department? Absolutely not.
But I am learning to be kinder and more accepting of myself. I remind myself that it isn’t what I achieve that makes me worthy. It is who I am. I am working to be more authentic, more loving, more giving, more forgiving, and more at peace.
Thank you all for reading this quite lengthy post. I hope that thing things I’ve shared inspire you and let you know that you aren’t alone. You are worthy. Worthy of love and peace and fulfillment.
Until next time, keep dreaming.

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Attaching Self-Worth to Accomplishment Part 2

In my last post, I promised to spill all the juicy details about why my attempts to write have sucked so much lately. So here it is. (Just so you know, this is extremely different than the kind of thing I normally post…some tough subjects, soul searching, difficult quests and dragon slaying. So, yeah, I guess it is the norm.)

As I said in my last post, I’ve come back from a nine-month sabbatical from blogging (and social media in general). It wasn’t entirely a conscious choice. I was simply burned out from every avenue in my life leading to a dead end and realized that maybe my subconscious, God, the Universe,  was trying to tell me something. So I stepped away from everything to listen. During this time of (forced) seclusion and self-reflection (thanks a lot, Universe, for conspiring against me) I realized that the reason my writing wasn’t going anywhere was because I was holding on to it too tightly.

I was looking at it as the thing that contained my identity–the thing that made me valuable as a person. Deep down, I believed that it was the only thing that made me worth anything.
Spider Man Tony Stark GIF - Spider Man Tony Stark If Youre ...
 
As you can imagine,  this is a very damaging belief. What happens when you realize that you need to retire the story you’ve been working on for months because it just isn’t working? Or you have a case or writer’s block? Or you don’t meet your self-imposed deadline for releasing a new book?
 
It is completely devastating.
 
Because it isn’t just a time of mental block you are experiencing or a learning process that you are working through. When you believe that an achievement is all you are worth, and you don’t “achieve,” it means that you aren’t valuable as a person. You aren’t worthy…of happiness, life, love.
 
This may sound completely ridiculous to some, but to some of you reading this…you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve already had this revelation or maybe it is hitting you just now.
 
Why would someone even have such an awful belief?
 
I know the reason for holding such a damaging belief may be different for all of you, but for me, it came from the environment in which I grew up.
 
My parents weren’t the type to affirm me in my ability to achieve my dreams or even to affirm the most basic need of a child: to know that they have a place in the world and that they are valued and loved.
Animated gif about love in Disney by Private User
 
The message given to me early on was that I wasn’t valued. I was either a burden–an inconvenience–or I was there to serve them. They weren’t interested my interests unless I did something that made them look good…that gave them a way to heap attention and praise on themselves.
 
I wasn’t shown love unless I did something that benefited them. And “love” was quickly withdrawn when I failed to be useful.
 
I wasn’t part of a family. I was part of a business…or perhaps more accurately, I was a part of a machine. I was a part, that if no longer serving a function, would be shoved aside.
 
I never felt that I was truly loved or safe. Life was always shaky ground. I was always trying to guess what would keep myself from being undeserving of my parents demonstrations of affection (because false love is better than none to a child).
 
This damaging game caused deep rooted beliefs to integrate itself into my core being: the belief that I wasn’t worthy of love, acceptance, relationships, or safety. The lesson I learned was that I was so deeply flawed that only by giving people what they wanted could I receive a shadow of acceptance and affection.
 
Best Tangled Mom GIFs | Gfycat
 
With my parents, the amount of affection shown was directly proportioned with how my achievements boosted their own ego.
 So of course,  that sent a strong message that I was only as valuable as my achievements. My entire worth is in what I do and how I am perceived by others.
 
It is a harsh and lonely “reality” to live in.
 
It limits your ability to form real relationships because you “know” if you don’t present a front–somehow figure out what people want you to be and be that–then they will reject you, hate you, criticize you. If your own parents only wanted you around to meet an emotional or egotistical need, why wouldn’t everyone else?
 
This belief also leaves you trapped setting high goals for yourself and alternating between maniacally working to achieve them (because you have to prove your worth, your place in the world) and dropping them in despair because some deep part of you knows you will never do enough to prove your worth.
 
Because, even if you prove your worth to others, no amount of impressive feats will ever prove your worth to yourself.
 
disneyysidekicks.tumblr.com - Tumbex
 
There isn’t an award, a position, or an accomplishment that will make you believe that you are worthy.
 
Our lives are valuable because of more than a career or certain set of achievements. We are more than a set of accomplishments. We are the love we show, the compassion we give, the lives we change with our presence.
 
I am beginning to accept that and find healing. But just how I did that is a topic for next week’s post. 😉
 
I hope that anyone reading who has had experiences that blinded them to their self-worth is on the journey to healing as well.
 
Has anyone else had a similar revelations later in life like this? Maybe you realized that the self-sabotaging things you do are programs put in place by parents or teachers. Maybe you noticed that you tie your self-worth to your achievements or don’t feel like you will be happy until you achieve certain things.
 
If you can relate, I hope you are on the journey to healing as well. 🙂
Next week, we’ll about the healing process. Until then, keep dreaming!
 
 
 
 
 

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Attaching Self-Worth to Accomplishment Part 1

Hi Epic Dreamers!
Whew, it’s been 9 months since my last post. I apologize for the long absence, especially after saying that I was coming back. I really wanted to, but it seems the universe had other plans.
You know how everything shut down in 2020 when covid hit? That’s how my life felt this year. Every area of my life went into complete lock down and I couldn’t force it back into motion. Everything I tried to start led to a dead end.  I couldn’t find my creativity or passion. Ideas that seemed like sparks that would reignite the creative flame tapered off or just went in circles. It wasn’t just writing that suffered, but every thing else. I couldn’t seem to find that “flow” in any area of my life.
I realized that this stuck energy was trying to tell me something. It was the same as the body giving you a sore throat or sneeze to alert you to being sick. Just like a cold or flue needs some rest and medicine to heal it, there was something that needed to be acknowledged and dealt with before I could regain activity.
Sick GIFs | Tenor
It turns out there were a lot of somethings, but I’ll focus on the one that pertains to writing.
After indie publishing The Hashna Stone, I decided that this whole writing-a-book thing was more than just an experiment or something I did for fun. I was ready to be a “real” writer. I decided that my next book idea was “the one.” It was brilliant and would get me an agent, and I would be a famous author and live happily ever after with a stack of published books to substitute for a white picket fence.
However, it was right when I decided this that things went downhill. The story I was working on wasn’t coming out on paper like it was in my head. Dialogue was awful (and I love writing dialogue!). The characters were cardboard cutouts, even though in my last book, characters were my strong point. I tried to redraft. I tried to step back and re-outline.
NOTHING was saving the story.
I finally decided that it was just not time for me to write this story and set it aside, but the writing muse still refused to bless me with her presence.
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 Writing became something I dreaded (not every day…I still had some nice writing sessions). When I would think of anything writing related, it made me feel like a failure. I didn’t understand why I could write one book, but not another.
Then I took a look at what was different between writing The Hashna Stone and my current WIP.
My first book was something I did just for the heck of it. It was a challenge to see if I could write a whole book. I wrote it so I could share it with all of you who loved the choose-your-own-adventure version. I wrote it because it was fun and I loved the characters.
But my current project wasn’t just something that I did because I loved doing it. I made it something that defined me. I put finishing a book and getting traditionally published on a pedestal and subconsciously made it the thing that would make life meaningful. That would make me meaningful.
Who Am I GIF - Who Am I Loki Tomhiddleston - Discover ...
Around this time, I was also learning a whole lot of things about toxic family and how growing up with certain types of parents causes you to have certain beliefs and behaviors as adults. It connected with this realization, but I’ll get into that next post.
I realized that I was holding on to this idea of writing a book too tightly and needed to give it some room to breath. Nothing can be received if your fists are clenched. Energy can’t flow when you’re choking the life out of it.
Sometimes achieving something means chasing it with all your strength. Sometimes it means letting it go.
This doesn’t mean I’m not going to write anymore or that I’ve given up the idea of being traditionally published or self publishing more books. It just means that I’m working on letting go of the idea that achieving success in this one area in my life is the only thing that will really make life valuable or that will bring fulfillment.
I want to do this because of my love for it, not because I’m desperately trying to fill a void my parents left (Uh, yeah, I promised I’d leave that for the next post).
I know this is a very different kind of post than my usual, but I want anyone out there who is struggling with this same thing to know that they aren’t alone.
Okay, so before I end up writing the next post here, I’ll go ahead and end. 😉
What about you all? Have you ever put an unhealthy amount of pressure on yourself to achieve something? I’d love to know if anyone else has had a similar experience/realization.
Until next week, keep dreaming!