Three things I'd tell myself before writing a novel

Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self about your writing journey?

I have plenty... But I tried to condense the most important things into a little list. Here's what I'd tell little Em with a brain box full of ideas and a pen that wouldn't move fast enough to write it all:

1. It's going to be a long journey and a lots of bumps along the road,

so make sure to pack a lot of confidence, a bag of inspiration and fill up the trunk with determination. Passion you've already got covered.

2. No matter what your parents, relatives or teachers say about real jobs, they have no idea how far you can get on your own.

Don't let their "realistic encouragements" bring you down. Use that as fuel, you're going to need all the fuel you can get! (as I said, it's a long journey, and the destination is still out of view)

3. It's great to have your head in the clouds,

but please try to keep your feet on the ground, too. It's tempting to make incredibly challenging goals and shoot for the stars, but then you also have to accept the fact that it's going to take time.

Books aren't born overnight, just like viking warriors don't become strong overnight. I had to incorporate these viking shields somehow into this blog post. This picture had to make sense somehow. You had it coming.

I hope you're all loving the process and staying inspired as the chill falls and autumn leaves fly with the breeze. Fall is the best time to be writing, so make every moment full of words!

Being a storyteller isn't about writing the most words or even writing the best story in the world. It's about writing what makes your heart leap out of joy and your fingers twitch with desire to get your message out there.

No matter how scary or how time consuming, you are capable. And when you're telling the story you're meant to tell, that's when it all falls into place and nothing can stop you.

Skeleton leaves

Thought I'd update you on my novel-writing thing because my progress is so confusing and non-linear and weird that even I have difficulties grasping what the heck I'm doing.

During the summer I wrote pretty much nothing. Every now and then I'd pick up my novel's first act and work on perfecting the first page and clarify my intention in every scene. Now that I've rewritten the first half of act two I realize I need to add in much more conflict into act one, so this month I'll be rewriting that again... yay.

During the fall I've been rewriting, re-plotting and reworking the entire second act because it was a confusing mush. Now it's even more confusing, but at least it leads pretty smoothly into act three.

I'm trying to come to terms with my inability to write perfection and instead focus on loving the fact that the mess is full of emotion and life.

Creativity shouldn't be constrained. We give our stories all these rules and it's so wrong. It isn't helpful. It breaks us. Slowly but surely.

Truth is creativity isn't pretty. It's not neat or organized or clean. It's a messy, painful, glorious process full of surprises and hurdles along the way.

I feel like social media often paints a false picture of what creating a story is supposed to look like.

People have organized writing spaces and perfect outlines. They never fail writing goals and manage to always get their chapters out before deadlines.

But in reality each story is very different.

You don't have to have everything figured out in order to do this thing. Just be ok being lost sometimes. It's an adventure. Nobody can put your creativity in a box. That goes against everything creativity is all about.

I love pretty photos of laptop screens and floors covered in neatly placed post-it notes. I love office supplies and beautifully worded first drafts and perfect notebook layouts.

But often we feel like we're trying to make lush, colorful autumn forests. And all we get is the skeleton of a leaf.

It's not a perfect process. But if you're so busy creating perfection, you'll miss the point of the whole journey.

The magic. The beauty.

Because aren't colorless skeleton leaves beautiful, too? 🍂

Thoughts about Halloween

The roses have wilted, the violets are dead.
Ghosts running circles inside your head. 

Finnish people don't really celebrate halloween, but shops and the internet are always trying to make us.

Despite disliking the over-americanizing of our culture, I always love dressing up as a vampire on halloween (that's really the only costume I've ever had since I was eight years old and experienced my first halloween in Sweden) and going trick or treating.

But in Finland trick or treating isn't even a thing. Sometimes the neighbor's kid would come asking for candy, but that was really it.

Here you also can't dress up as a non-scary video game character or a sexy nurse or that would be really weird. Witches, ghosts and monsters are kinda ok though. "Fine, you can pretend to be american and celebrate halloween, but if you aren't scary-looking, then go to a cosplay event, dude" is what they'd say.

It's like in Mean girls when Lindsay Lohan goes as a scary bride and everybody looks at her weird. But it's the complete opposite here.

In Finland we have All Saints Day (even though most people aren't even Catholic. It's just a tradition now) instead of Halloween. The cemeteries get filled with thousands of candles and everyone spend time with their loved ones, thinking about their loved ones on the other side.

Many of the elderly don't like halloween at all because it's considered offensive to the dead to celebrate their day. I respect that, but I also would love to be celebrated when I'm dead, so...  I honestly prefer All Saints Day that to an american halloween though, because it's such an old, special tradition for me.

We celebrate Christmas in a very similar way in Finland and I love it. We really love going to cemeteries, don't we?

I've never carved a pumpkin before so I thought I might do that this year in addition to my annual shadow play at church, which has now become a little halloween tradition of mine, yay!

And I'll of course put my fangs in my mouth and scare little children while I'm wandering around the graveyard.

Where are you from? Do you do anything special on Halloween?

Drops of Dawn

She's standing barefoot in a frosty meadow, spirits of the forest singing gloomy tunes and birds chirping with the rising sun. The fog lifts while silver drops of dew sparkle in the ascending daylight. The frozen strands of grass bend and crunch beneath her toes. She walks toward the dawn. Night pools at her feet, sinking into the ground. Dripping gold across the waves of copper framing a rosy face, warm light falls on her cheeks. She raises her arm in greeting to the birds, and one flies to sit upon her fingers. Its tiny talons pinch at her skin, and she smiles. For the first time in a thousand years, she curls her lips and sings something new. No more mellow songs. No more empty gazes or longing looks toward the east. A new thousand years begin with a melody to the sun, which is only heard by those who know to listen intently before the first golden drop of dawn.

Am I giving too much?

I'm currently going through one of those juggling-everything-but-failing-miserably-at-everything kind of phases and it's stressing me out and I don't like it. Stress used to be something I felt on a daily basis until I just decided one day that it had to stop.

Since then life's been pretty good to me. I haven't reacted in a bad way to any hurdle thrown at me, because I haven't allowed myself to worry too much. I still worry a little, but it isn't living my life for me like it used to.

But now I'm trying to do so many projects both at school and on my free time while also giving so much of myself to other people that I feel a bit like (quoting 15-year-old anxious, burnt out Em) "a gummy bear stretched too thin". I'm not a huge fan of gummy bears, but feeling like one myself is even worse.

I have a hard time saying no, but I've gotten better at it. But I still feel so guilty for everything I don't do, especially things that aren't humanly possible for one person to do alone.

I've been thinking a lot about givers and takers, and it's pretty clear what I am. All my life I've prided myself on my niceness and strongly disagreed whenever someone's said that I need to learn to stand up for myself. I don't love being a door mat, but I'd defend my doormat:ness to my death.

My motto has always been "The happiest people make others happy", which is a great way to think, but it says nowhere in there that it means hating myself for being selfish when I take a day off or spend time working vigorously on following my own dream.

I don't want to feel like a gummy bear. I don't want to feel guilty about being happy or feel selfish when I succeed. It's self sabotage and it's not ok. It's time to stop acting like I hate myself, because I really don't.

My opinions matter. My words matter. My time matters.

A lot.

Miserable people either take too much or give too much. Successful people know when to give and when to take. If all you do is give, eventually you'll find yourself having nothing more to give of.

You can't share what you don't have. So let the sun shine on you, and you'll spread light wherever you go.

How to write when you don't feel like it

This blog post is not where I tell you to have an outline, learn the writing craft, to make a writing playlist or even to read books by authors who inspire you. Nope, these are tips on how to write when you don't feel like it, but actually already have done all those things I mentioned.

These are writers block tips that always work no matter what because they make you actually write instead of putting your attention elsewhere and essentially making you procrastinate with great, creative excuses.

I guarantee you, these tips aren't anywhere else on the internet because this is what my brain comes up with when I'm struggling myself. Stuff that works. For me, at least.

Creativity is key. Think outside the box, or you'll have to live inside it forever. Doesn't sound that great, does it?

Now, here's a disclaimer.

No, there's no disclaimer.

This works and always will work for me, and you need to fully believe that they will work for you too. Because you want to write, right? So you will write, no matter what. 


1. Steal from another author

Flip open a book, pick a random line and write that in your novel. Now you've got a couple words, it's your turn to write and keep going.

2. Go back to those good ol' days when storytelling was a reward in itself

Play with toys. If you don't have any toys laying around, use something else. Like maybe coins. Or plants.

"This is Emery. This is Fylkir. Now they're going to have a neat conversation, and it goes like this..."

It's silly, but it's no wonder kids are so creative. Most likely you started writing stories as a child. Go back to your roots! It always works.

3. Write on a strangely shaped paper

Here's what you do:

You take a piece of paper and cut it into a random shape. Then you start to write stuff on it, and most likely you're going to find that paper too small to fit all the things you want to write, so you get a new paper, or you move over to your laptop.

Suddenly you realise you've actually written stuff without even noticing. The secret is to be as random as possible and have no expectations of yourself.

And those two rules apply for writing the first draft of anything. We just always forget that.

4. Let the inner Ellen loose!

Take out your phone and start recording a make belief podcast where you're answering questions about your novel and why you're so passionate about it. This will feel weird (unless you're like me and always talk to yourself anyway), but you're going to get inspired.

If you have nothing to say about your novel, then you have a clear sign that you need to move on and find a new project. If you aren't passionate about what you're working on, it's never going to happen. You'll just keep getting stuck.

5. Engage your senses

Take a break, do something physical. Go for a walk, do some dishes, clean your room. (Sometimes when I do chores I narrate the action inside my head. It's bizarre and the outcome would be hilarious, but the thing is I never write that inner prose down. It's just fun inspiration.)

When you're done, you get back to writing. Because if you truly want to tell this story, then you're going to drop all excuses and you're going to sit down and write.

"But it's hard."


Sometimes it's dreadful and you hate yourself for putting yourself through it. But like I said, if this story really is your thing, you're going to write it no matter what.

Trust your words and trust me when I say, just keep writing. Let yourself write absolute trash, because in a couple weeks you'll realize that it isn't absolute trash. It's a story. And you created it.

So now, get off the internet and get writing. Even if it's just one line, it's one more line than you would've written otherwise.

You've come this far already, so now you just have to squeeze out a little bit of work, and then you can give yourself a huge scoop of chocolate ice cream. Or reward yourself with some more writing.

And that is how I write every day.

You should too.