When you break

I woke up last night, heart thrumming hard and my breathing shallow, suddenly feeling anxious and worried for no particular reason. And it wasn't the first time since Uni started. Don't get me wrong, I love school. I love the assignments and learning new things and getting to know people. And most of the assignments aren't even hard or stressful. Just extremely time consuming.

All of it.

And maybe it's my fault that I'm feeling so burnt out after only two weeks. I thought that I'd be able to juggle school, work, art, family, church, social life, a novel, a screenplay, a blog, a youtube channel, an instagram account, facebook page, twitter, a second blog, a podcast.... The list goes on. And I am supposed to do all this simultaneously? And actually stay sane?

Now I've realized that I was a bit crazy to think that. But still, I'm so disappointed at myself for not being able to do all the things I want to. There just isn't enough time. Or energy. I get home from school and work and can't sit down anywhere comfortable for even one second for the fear of falling asleep and not being able to do everything else I should do.

I'm so exhausted. Even at night, my brain screams at my body to wake up and do things, because there isn't enough time in the day. I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can't sit still, I can't do anything without thinking "What if I should be doing something else? What if I'm not being productive enough? What if this is a waste of time?"

This morning I just broke. I tried to eat breakfast while listening to a lecture on screenwriting, but I couldn't find a cheese slicer anywhere and so I decided that I couldn't waste my time on breakfast and had to write on my novel instead.

And then the tears came. It all just fell on me--the awareness of every dream and ambition I have that I can't follow because I'm so stuck trying to do everything but feeling like I get nothing done.

All of it.

I broke and cried and wanted to spend all day screaming into my pillow and ask God why life is so short. Why do we all have to be so busy? Is this even living if it just feels like dying inside?

I'm so tired and I just want to do things that make me happy. Follow my heart instead of a to-do list of a million things.

Where is the joy?

For the past week I've lost it, and it'll be a struggle to find it again. But I've been depressed and hopeless and lived in darkness. I'm not going back.

When you break, stop yourself. When you feel like you're all alone and there's no time and you're exhausted and have lost joy, get back up.

I had to tell myself that there's no time to cry. It's not the healthiest thing to say when you're already burned out, but it made me quickly dry my cheeks and get out of bed.

Why should you be tired and sad and breaking when you could be happy and joyful and THRIVING?

No, there is not enough time to do everything. But there's enough to do something. And to be happy and change the world, we have to start somewhere. Not by killing ourselves with stress and to-do lists we'll never be able to finish. But by giving ourselves a pat on the back for getting this far. By easing the burden just a little, because life will be hard anyway, so why make it even harder for yourself?

By loving and appreciating yourself a little more. Smiling a little more. Doing a little more of what you love. You deserve every bit of happiness the world has to give.

Be sad. Be happy. It's your decision.

With every bit of love I can virtually send you, Em :)

Should you keep doing stuff you hate?

I'm going to tell you the secret about doing stuff you hate.

There are some things that we as humans just have to do--going to school, paying taxes, doing laundry. If you came here to find out how to quit being a sophisticated part of society, just move into the jungle already. If normal things feel so horrible for you, maybe you're secretly a panda. But even pandas have hygiene, just saying...

That's beside the point of this post. I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just telling you whether you should.

All of our lives we're told that we're never going to be successful if we don't do stuff we hate sometimes. True. I hated school a lot, but I didn't just quit. And that wasn't just because it's against the law. I kind of learned to love it. There were classes I dreaded, but most of it was okay, or even amazing.

Want to know the secret?

It is possible to stop doing things you hate, if you start liking them.

I know what you're thinking. But don't go just yet.

My tips on how to stop doing things you don't like:

1. Don't say yes if you mean no. Stop wasting your time on people and activities that don't bring you happiness and who aren't going to last in the long run.

2. Put your main focus on things you love. If you're still in school, or have a job you don't enjoy, try to do your passion a little every day. Work toward your dreams and look forward to them. When the time comes, you'll graduate, or even quit your job to do your passion full time. Also, working hard on projects that you love will stop you from wasting time on activities that will only make you happy for a short amount of time. Don't fall for the temptations of netflix.

Wasting time will kill your dreams.

3. Ask yourself these questions: Do I have to do this? Does it make my future better? What would I rather be doing? Evaluate your answers and act accordingly.

4. After answering the questions, if you still have something that is compulsory (like school, chores or work) there really isn't much you can do about it.

I'm kidding. I'm here to solve your problems, buddy.

What made me survive school was figuring out what I liked, what I was good at, and what made me want to vomit in the teacher's cup of coffee. Think about your courses. It's impossible to be good at everything anyway. Choose consciously what you will use your energy on, and make studying fun.

Chores don't suck either. I play my favorite music and sing or dance while cleaning and doing laundry. What I'd also recommend is listening to Ted Talks. They work wonders on your mind. There are so many talks and so many speakers with different experiences. YouTube is really an amazing place. Just listen to people talk about stuff. Nothing is boring with earphones. Seriously.

5. Positivity is the key.

To love your future, you have to love your now.

Emphasize happy moments and find positives to everything you do. Learning what you like and dislike about certain things is extremely important in growing into a better person, but you have to do things you don't like in life. But a sucky ten minutes doesn't make a sucky day.

6. Chocolate and movies!

What would life be without chocolate and movies?

Make sure to reward yourself with things you love. Life is what you want it to be, so fill it with things that make you smile, because smiling is what those face muscles were made to do (also, to not take yourself too seriously, make a funny face or two whenever you feel that life's hard. It relieves stress, or so I believe. Just try it.)

A happy life comes from doing things you love, so hating the stuff you do can be super hard. But I believe in you. You can accomplish amazing things!

Remember, you don't have to love every step, but you have to love this journey in it's HUGE entirety. Hang in there! This is a bumpy road! :)

Love, Em.

Stuff Writers Say #1

I write and say a lot of weird things, but don't we all? It's a writer thing. Here are some captions from my old instagram posts. I hope you can relate, or at least have a laugh at me. Don't worry. I don't mind.

Check out @Storyworldofem for more writerly quotes, tips and pictures of books and adorable little cats and guinea pigs.

March 18th 2016
Writer perfectionism: "Sometimes I wish my novel would edit itself, but then I realize I'd have to redo all of the work anyway because only I can do it right."

February 25th 2016
How poetic: "I just wrote an essay on failure. The subject sounds kind of depressing, but writing it filled me with so much positivity and hope that the paper almost learned to fly."
Writing always makes me feel better. That's why I do it. If I feel hopeless, I write it out, and my mindset shifts as the words flow on. Suddenly I'm happy, relieved and calm. It's almost like praying.

February 25th 2016
Reason to keep writing , even when it's hard: "Just shut up and write my story. Sincerely, MC."

Feb 1st 2016
When I ranted about how stupid drugs are: "Nerds are way cooler. We get high on the smell of books."

Jan 25th 2016
I just can't stop daydreaming about fictional places: "It frightens me that I'll be legally an adult this year. Please, Peter Pan, don't be too late. I need to see Neverland!"

Jan 24th 2016
"I can't write in public because I make these weird faces and people stare."
Just stare back!

Jan 18th 2016
"I've recently turned into a hardcore listmaker. Stuff I have lists for: daily to-do, weekly to-do, monthly to-do, yearly to-do:s for the next five years, idea lists, dream lists, books I'll write one day, stuff I want to do, things I have to try, foods I love, books I've loved, books I hate, movies I love, movies I'd burn, all of my notebooks and what to write in them.... It doesn't even end here. Should I stop and calm down? I think not."

I think I did.
When I ran out of post-it notes.
It was a sad day.

Jan 23rd 2016
"I never have a problem with the internet while I write. It's just research."
You mean, "research"? On pinterest? Yeah, sure.

Jan 19th 2016
"Yesterday I googled how long it takes for a human body to burn up. Now I'm just waiting for the cops to knock on my door."
Last week I learned how to stab and strangle without killing the person...

Yep. We're strange, rare, unique creatures. And the weirder, the merrier. Isn't that how it goes??

Happy writing! Stay weird, weirdos :)

All captions and photos taken from @Storyworldofem

How to create a magic system

What is a fantasy without magic?

The thing with magic though (and pretty much all fantasy elements), is that it has to be realistic. But what's the point in that? Fantasy is fantasy for a reason.

Without rules, magic easily becomes too powerful and uncontrollable, creating plot holes and basically ruins the entire fantasy world you've created.  A world without rules simply doesn't exist. A system of magic with no limitations is just not compelling. But give it too many, and your characters won't be able to save the world using magic.

First, decide why your story needs magic. What significance does it hold in the story? The rules governing your magic system will affect everyone in your world. We all know that Earth's rules. Gravity, for one, keeps us from floating into space. The law of gravity sucks if  one wants to fly away, but comes in handy when you're going for a run. The same should apply for the laws of your magic system. They should both work in your characters' favor but also against them. The limitations of your magic system should reflect your story.

Yep, I know. This all takes a lot of braining to figure out. So it makes sense to spend some time on this, doesn't it?

Second, define where the magic comes from. How magic came to be will have a big impact on how it is now, what it is regulated by and who wields it. If it was given by gods to the creatures of your world (like in my novel), then the gods have decided on the laws and rules. The magic can be a set of spells or even prayers to certain gods to answer the prayer using magic.

Other sources of magic could be nature, technology, oneself, life energy... By reading lots you see how certain types of magic work in specific settings, and you'll be able to mix up and combine different magic systems to create a set of rules and source of magic that are unique to your world and work for your story.

How magic is used and performed depends highly on where magic comes from and how it was born, so when you've got that figured out, the rest is pretty easy. If your magic draws from nature, it makes sense that the one using it must be near a forest or a growing organism of sorts. If it was given by gods, magic could be used by saying chants and prayers, as I said earlier. 

Is it physically straining? How does it affect the person performing magic? How does it affect the people surrounding them? 

One of the most important rules to set is of course deciding who can use magic in your fantasy world. There are many options here as well:

  • A specific race, supernatural entity or group of people.
  • Everybody or anyone who studies magic.
  • Nonhumans.
  • The magic chooses at random. (Works for a "The chosen one" type of story.)
Now, back to the rules of magic. What can and can't your magic do? Just like we can't fly, there has to be something that is impossible to do with your magic. I have a pretty good idea of what the magic is like in my novel Poison Fire, and don't ever even have to think about the rules while writing, but my story has been dwelling in my mind for over three years now. So if you're newer to the world in your own story, it'd be a good idea to get it all out on paper or a Word document--a list of all the rules and laws of your magic system--so that you won't have to stop to try to remembering. (Check this video out on story bibles and why they're absolutely essential for any fantasy writer)

Is there a finite amount of magic in the world? How many spells can someone say before being physically or mentally too tired to continue? Maybe certain spells require extremely specific materials that are hard to find. Maybe they require your soul. Maybe one person's magic blocks another's somehow. If the magic is only recently discovered, it could be a big risk to use it because you never know for sure how it works in new surroundings.  There are so many possibilities, I'm getting a headache...

The main thing to remember here is that once you set rules, don't break them.

The last, and the thing most people forget when creating magic systems, is thinking of how the magic affects the structure of society and how the world is run. 

I also recommend reading Brandon Sanderson's Three Laws of magic.

And at all costs, avoid Deus ex Machina. 

Happy worldbuilding!!