I’m so stuck!
NaNoWriMo has been going for a week, and you’ve probably run into the bane of writing: You got stuck.
Story: Utterly stuck in a dead corner
And it’s easy to either panic in that moment or to throw up your hands and give up.
And believe that you’re not cut out to be a writer.
Here’s a secret:
It happens to every single one of us. Every writer gets stuck.
Every. Single. One.
It’s normal. It’s part of being a writer.
And one big part of NaNo is to create so much pressure on you to write – doing those 1,667 words per day isn’t necessarily easy – that you suspend your inner critic and just write. Continue reading
Can I even do this?
Today is day 2 of NaNoWriMo.
Maybe you struggled getting the necessary word count yesterday (1,667 words, btw.). Maybe, like me, you didn’t even make it that far. Maybe you already doubt you can do it again because it was so hard.
Maybe you think that what you wrote is all terrible.
Maybe you are already doubting that you’re a writer.
This is how you fail NaNoWriMo on day 2.
And it’s totally unnecessary.
You see, the truth is, one day isn’t enough to find out if you’re a writer or not, especially during NaNoWriMo.
One day isn’t enough to know that what you wrote is bad.
So I’m asking you to step back for a moment and stop worrying about word count and plot and characters.
Take a deep breath. Continue reading
Family System Dynamics affect every single one of us – and of course, every character in your stories. I’ve been working with that kind of energy for years, and I hope I have been able to show some of what goes on in families to you.
This is very much a case where knowledge helps. Because you can only see what you know.
Visualizing a family system
Imagine a family like mobile, everyone tied together by that invisible energy of the family system. Everyone connected with the others.
That’s what you live in. That’s what I live in. What everyone lives in.
Even if we dislike our family.
This is unescapable. And real.
And yes, it can feel as if you’re caught in a web.
But this knowledge can arm you, and give you ways of working with this web that make life better for you – and often enough for the rest of the family. Continue reading
This is another concept practically unknown outside of family systems work: The Burden.
Here’s how it works:
When we are born into a family, we quickly become aware of all the emotions around us. All the energy swirling and engulfing us. It is our family, after all.
And being loving and caring children, we choose to help other family members, out of pure, innocent love.
So if one of our family members carries a negative energy – whatever it is – we take on parts of it. Sometimes a little part, sometimes a big part. We take on this burden in order to make their lives easier.
This can be anything. It can even be something handed down this way through generations.
Anger. Shame. Guilt. Grief. Loneliness…
We carry this Burden Continue reading
Going back to the Law #1 which states that everyone born into a family actually belongs to it (and adoption counts, as well), bad things happen when a family member is denied their space by other family members.
An empty space in the family system invites trouble.
I like to call this The Void.
The family system doesn’t “forget” a member. And if someone is ousted from their place, the family system keeps that space “empty”.
At the same time, just like nature, a family system abhors a vacuum.
So the system tries to fill that empty space.
And someone always volunteers.
Which is a bad thing.
Filling someone else’s space is hard.
There are several reasons why filling the void is bad for the entire system – but better than leaving it empty – and bad for the individual filling the position. Continue reading
Family systems encompass more than just your immediate family, ie. the one you grew up in or the one you live in now.
In fact, those systems stretch back for generations, from grandparents to great-greats and beyond. Usually, however, the influence from way back is small.
There is one area where the influence remains strong through the ancestral lines:
Obviously, there are two different lines of energy through the generations, maternal and paternal. And they hand down different types of energy.
The maternal line tends to carry love while the paternal line carries strength and power.
Did I mention that family systems are conservative?
Fortunately, every one of us has access to both lines, no matter what our genes say or our gender is. We can connect to them and receive both love as well as strength and power. Continue reading
Law #3 is all about balance, and that’s much less obvious than the last two laws.
Basically, within a family system there has to be a balance between giving and taking. Once again, I’m going to use the mobile analogy: If one or two family members constantly take, they get heavier and heavier. And in very bad cases, they can tear that mobile apart.
Now we all know people who love to give and give and give and have a hard time actually receiving anything. We like to look at those as if they were heroes. Our society thinks they are generous and loving.
They are not. They are distorting the balance by not allowing others to give back.
Constant giving is destructive.
I can tell a sad tale about that, one that might sound familiar. And yes, it is true:
I had a very nice couple as friends when I was studying at university. But money was tight, and so they came to an agreement: He would work to earn the money they needed to live on and put her through university, and once she got her degree and a good job, he’d get to study and she would support him in turn.
That’s a pretty good deal, isn’t it? Continue reading
Now that we know that every member of the family belongs to the family and the system, it’s time to move to the second law of family systems.
This law is about order within the family.
This means that every family member has a firm position within the family.
There’s the father position and the mother position. (And it’s flexible enough to make two moms or two dads possible.) These positions are bestowed upon becoming parents. If there are no kids, the positions are just “lover positions”, basically, because there is nobody to parent.
Children’s positions are determined by order of birth, very simply.
Except it’s not that simple. Stillborn babies count, as do aborted babies. They have a position in the family, and – as mentioned last week – they definitely are family members.
And if the parents of this family had children before founding this family, those kids also count. See where it can get tricky?
And see where it might be difficult to give everyone the right position? Continue reading
Family and Outcast
The family system knows three “laws” as I like to call them, because these are firm and not flexible. Pretty much everything else are “guidelines”, but these three laws rule.
Today, I’m going to talk about the first and most important one: Belonging.
It’s actually quite simple: Everyone born into a family belongs to the family.
That includes stillborn babies, aborted babies, children given away for adoption, as well as any and all black sheep. A family simply can’t go and declare someone outcast.
There is one and only one reason why someone might lose membership of a family system and that is the brutal murder of another member. (And no, that does not include abortion. No discussion about this.)
Now, I’ve seen a few family systems where a member has been outcast – vehemently outcast – and I’ve also seen the results of that decision. They were not pretty.
You see, a family system protects itself. Not the members. Continue reading
This new blog series is about family systems and how they affect you as a writer.
The way I see it, knowing about family systems and their dynamics will help you be more successful by explaining and eliminating potential blocks and limits for your writing.
And on another level, employing your knowledge of family systems in character creation will make your stories more interesting and more believable.
Sound good? Here we go.
Family systems are everywhere.
We cannot escape being part of a family system, since we do have at least two biological parents, and usually grow up in a family. It doesn’t matter how small a family is, it forms a system.
That system also includes ancestors, that is, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc. So even if you say you don’t “have” a family, maybe because you’re living alone, it is more than likely that you are part of a family system.
In other words, everyone is part of a family system.
Including you. Continue reading