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
I’ve been running a writing message board for many years now, starting long before MySpace and LifeJournal and Facebook.
And once we had a member who was being pushed by a writing coach. He was supposed to write a short story every week and submit it somewhere, to build a name and a writing career.
A short story per week.
Now, if you think 5,000-10,000 words per week, that’s entirely doable. And I believe that with the right support in place, with good self-care, plenty of time to write, good food and exercise and such, it is even doable for a long time.
This kind of work used to be a great strategy for building a name in the genre field. And having 50 stories per year to submit and show up in various magazines is a great tactic. In theory, at least.
Or you could put that amount of work into a novel, and you’d end up with one every two to three months. Continue reading
Writing every day
Part of self-care is to maintain who we are. Or to work towards who we want to be.
For a writer, that means writing. Preferably every day.
I know it’s hard. I know I’m not doing it all the time myself.
But the truth is, you are a writer as long as you write.
(And publish your books, and market, and all of that, too.)
And in order to stay in your identity as writer, it’s very helpful to write a little every day. (Or a lot, if that works for you.)
If you stop writing – you stop being a writer. So write every day. It’s as simple as that, and yet… Continue reading
Goofy Happy Joy
We not only have to be aware of our thoughts and our success, we also need to be aware of our emotions.
Because they are our guides. They let us know how the things we do fit us and our dreams and goals. They warn us if something is wrong. So it’s worth it being aware of our emotions. Get that message.
And even though most of us have been taught that our emotions are like a force of nature that we have to endure, that simply isn’t true.
We can choose how to feel.
(Yes, there are limits, and I have great respect for people who carry on despite depression. *hugs for you*)
But even within those limits we can choose to feel joy.
There are tricks to do so, and it’s absolutely worth to practice this. Because feeling joy or feeling happy does a lot of good things to your body and your mind. Continue reading
Dreaming of Success
Success is important for us. Even if we don’t have it right now, the whole idea of success is what keeps up going. When we dream about our success – whatever that is for you – we find the energy to keep writing, to keep marketing and to keep doing what it takes.
This in turn means that you need to protect your vision of your success from all those people around you that may doubt you and your ability to succeed.
You also need to strengthen it and keep it strong, so you can return to it whenever you run out of juice.
Usually, there are about four different ways people want to succeed when writing. I’m going to go through them and suggest some visualizations to use in your daydreaming.
Daydreaming? Continue reading
“Thoughts become things.”
– Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe
Now this may sound very, very woowoo. Very spiritual and quite useless for everyday life.
Because how we think about ourselves, our writing, our lives – all of that influences our focus, our work habits and eventually what kind of lives we actually live.
And that’s why I’m writing about your (our) thoughts.
1. Thoughts about ourselves
Take a moment and listen to how you talk to yourself in your thoughts.
Most often, that voice we use to talk to ourselves is a harsh voice. A hard taskmaster. And sometimes, a rather nasty voice.
Oh, you’re such an idiot.
Not good enough. Write more.
Get moving, you lazy ass!
And so an and so forth. Does that sound familiar?
It’s how I used to talk to myself, as well. I thought that being hard on myself like that would make me work harder and get more done. I thought that was how everyone thinks to themselves.
I’ve been completely wrong. Continue reading
For us writers, the mind is the most important tool. It is where our stories are born. It’s where they grow into full tales that make it to the keyboard, paper or file. It’s more important than the computer and all the other tools we use to get our stories out into the world, because they wouldn’t exist without the mind.
And so we need to take care of the mind as well as the body.
And that’s especially true if we work a day job, have a family and write. It’s not always easy to let go of those parts of our lives and dive into our stories.
I’ll write about transition rituals next week, because I want to do some groundwork today.
If you’re even a bit like me, your mind is full of thoughts every moment in your life. You’re thinking about books and stories, about people you meet, you might even have conversations with them in your mind, and even when you go to bed, it’s hard to stop that run-away train of thoughts. Continue reading