Happy Trails: Chasm Falls

Chasm Falls.

Intro: Happy Friday, friends and readers! I’m so excited to share today’s trail with you: a Rocky Mountain National Park hike called Chasm Falls. This trail was absolutely stunning and a perfect winter hike, especially because much of the trail was free … Continue reading

Writing into The Void

I’ve seen a lot of writing advice out there, and most of it really is helpful. Some of it, though, is only helpful after I’ve tried it for myself.

There as many theories and practices for writing as there are writers, which means that there is no sure way to write except for how you do it. And while figuring that out sounds simple, for me it’s been really hard.

 

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I’m guilty of many Ariel sighs.

Recently, 2 things happened that gave me a new perspective on an old issue:

  1. I received Susan Dennard’s weekly newsletter (If you don’t, subscribe! She’s an incredible author and human!). In it, she discusses “coaxing out magical cookies,” or scenes, from a work in progress. Susan explains that every scene should have a “magical cookie”- a scene that you’re excited to write about. If it doesn’t, cut the scene or figure out how to insert a magical cookie. This got me thinking a lot about my current WIP, and how I can start improving it.
  2. I had a conversation with one of my closest friends about non-writing struggles. After I vented, she said something that struck me: “You don’t fully believe in yourself, and that’s why you’re insecure.” And… that’s true. My self-doubt leads to self-destruction, every time. So obviously, I have to figure out a way to fix that. Easier said than done, right?

Here’s the thing: I’m not in the position to sit around in my sorrows and frustrations. I need to take action. I need to pull myself up and work, and learn to be my own loudest cheerleader and strongest supporter. So, I figured out 3 ways to do that:

Step 1: Write into The Void

 

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Sort of how this feels? (Image credit to Cartoon Hangover and Giphy)

I’m not the kind of writer than can (or should) go days or weeks without writing. For me, building a story takes dedicated, every day practice. (Side note: if this isn’t you, that’s totally fine! I respect every type of process.) That means that sometimes, I have to write into The Void. You know The Void – it’s that empty place that makes writing feel as difficult as sloshing through wet, sticky sand. But The Void isn’t all bad, even at it’s most infuriating. Typically, it forces me to make a decision. It’s the place where a character succeeds or fails, where a plot point blooms or dies, where a romance or conflict or villain gets more fully developed.

Sometimes I think of The Void as the exhausted, giving-up feeling I get when working out. If I push past it, I finish the work out and I’m better for it. If I stop, though, I just feel like I’ve failed. The Void is exactly the same. Yes, writing through it might leave me with scraps that I have to delete or change or sculpt. But in the end, writing into The Void is a victory because I pushed through the nothingness to find something. 

Step 2:Practice Positive Self-Talk Daily

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Via Tumblr

 

Positive self-talk is so vitally important. In a world that measures women by their flaws, sometimes the only weapon we have is our own voice. I’ve always been more ready to admit my short-comings than my achievements, and unlearning that behavior has taken me years. Literally. But every day is a new opportunity to love myself; to focus on my strengths, my abilities, and what I CAN do.

 

Step 3: Set Goals to Improve Self-Trust

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Hoping to hit Level Leslie in self-trust eventually! Source.

Part of gaining self-trust is giving yourself opportunities to meet and exceed expectations. I haven’t always been good at this. For example, I used to have a goal of home-cooking dinner 5 days a week. That goal was doomed to fail, because I didn’t even like cooking. After getting really frustrated and discussing this with my husband, he asked, “Why didn’t you ask me to help you?” That’s when I realized: he wanted to help. I just needed to ask. Now we’ve been sharing dinner duties for a few months. I don’t dread cooking anymore because I’ve adjusted my goals and I know I have support.

Now a success story: For the past 6 months I’ve been doing a home-workout called Daily Burn. My goal was to work out 3-4 days a week, with the added goal of hiking on the weekends with my husband. And guess what? I’ve achieved that goal every week! I’m getting stronger, and I look and feel better. Most importantly, I’ve proved to myself that not only can I set achievable goals – I can meet and exceed them!

It’s way easier for me to list the times I’ve failed than the times I’ve succeeded, but that’s where setting goals and positive self-talk comes in! Even though I think of my failures first, focusing on positivity and goals I’ve achieved always changes my attitude. I realize that even though I failed at X, I succeeded at Y and Z.

Like writing into The Void, practicing positivity and gaining self trust are all internal processes. They require practice, discipline, and believing in myself. They also require the knowledge that can set and achieve my ambitions, as long as I’m realistic and work hard. And if I slip up and have to readjust? That’s okay. I can’t allow myself to feel defeated; I have to step back, try again, and ask if I need support. But more than anything, I have to learn to trust myself. Because I am capable and talented. So, dear reader, are you.