Silencing Your Inner Critic (for writers)

When it comes to dealing with the inner critic, people usually do one of two things:

  • Try to resist and silence it. “No, no, no, that’s not true! I shouldn’t be thinking that way! I’ll never get anywhere if I keep thinking that way!”
  • Get upset and agree with it. “Oh, yes, I am a bad writer. My writing is horrible. Who do I think I am?”

There may be hundreds of other reactions or variations of the above reactions, but it’s usually one of two things – trying to stand up to it (by pushing yourself harder, repeating affirmations, and so on) or agreeing with it because deep down you feel like the critic might be telling the truth.

For me personally, none of it works. Sometimes affirmations and positive thinking (and surrounding yourself with positive people) may help to boost your confidence and silence those critical thoughts. But you never know when they will return.

Agreeing with those thoughts won’t do much good either. It will only end up in depression, and then you’ll stop writing completely, which will make you feel even worse.

Essentially, you just want to continue writing/finish your novel or whatever else you’re working on. Most of us don’t assume that we’re geniuses; we don’t need to be reminded every second that our writing is good enough, and we know that even the award-winning authors deal with self-criticism (sometimes on a daily basis). We know that having an inner critic is normal and maybe even healthy. The problem starts when those intrusive thoughts keep you from doing what you love and affect your overall mood.

In my own experience, I’ve found that when the mind starts doing something like that – going in circles, getting stuck on a negative (or just uncomfortable) emotion or thought – it’s better to let it do what it wants to do. Instead of resisting the thought, let it go through, observing it from a distance.

It’s like waiting for a train to pass so you could cross the railroad.

You nod and say: “Okay, what else do you have to say? Go ahead.”

Sometimes it’s all it takes to completely silence and calm down your mind.

It trips it up. “What? You’re actually listening? You’re not trying to argue with me or shut me up?”

“No, no, I’m listening. Please, go on.”

And if it continues to criticize, just let it go through. Nod and smile as you would if a child is saying complete nonsense, or a crazy person tries to talk to you on the street.

You may even try to exaggerate what it says. “Oh, yes; not only is my writing bad, it’s THE WORST! If there were an award for the most horrible writer on the planet, it would already be standing on my shelf, with my name on it. In fact, I shouldn’t even be calling myself a writer.” (I hated calling myself a writer, so I came up with another word 😉 )

Pretty soon you may even start smiling or laughing at yourself. And then your inner critic will finally go away. On normal days, mine usually stops talking as soon as I say, “Go ahead.”

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter if what it says is true or not. We all worry that we’re not good enough, not worthy enough, and so on. And probably that’s a good thing to some extent – it reminds us that the world doesn’t revolve around us, and we shouldn’t act entitled.

But unless you’re trying to insult someone with your writing, you’re probably doing nothing wrong. Some people will like it, some people won’t – and that’s okay. The question is, why are you doing it in the first place. If you truly love writing and want to finish that project that you’re working on, then your inner critic is useless because it keeps you from achieving your goal. Whatever it says becomes irrelevant.

I can’t guarantee that it would work for everybody. Sometimes the problem is deeper; sometimes you just need rest or support of other people. Sometimes you need to take time to re-evaluate and think of another plan.

The last thing I wanted to say – and it may contradict everything that I’ve said above – don’t think about your inner critic as your enemy. Essentially, your mind wants to keep you safe. It’s not against you. Thank it for that – and move on. As soon as you’ll focus on the work that is meaningful to you, your mind’s attention will shift away from those negative thoughts.

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Intentions for 2019

Yes, not goals. Intentions.

I’ve been trying to set goals for myself for years, and the more I did that, the more I realized that it’s just not working for me.

Not that I don’t have any plans or dreams for my life, it’s just that I’m such a free-spirited person that any boundaries or strict rules demotivate me. If anything, I accomplish more when I’m not setting any goals at all, and sitting down to write out my goals for the month is like making sure I don’t accomplish anything that month.

Sometimes – on very rare occasions – I set specific goals and achieve them. For example, I did win NaNoWriMo three times (but only when I did it “unofficially” 😀 ), and I also met my reading goals for 2018 (surprisingly, I even surpassed them!) – probably because I was really disappointed by the amount of time I dedicated to reading in 2017, so I made sure I did better the next year.

But still… Most of the time, goals don’t work for me. Maybe it’s because goal setting doesn’t align with my values. Maybe I just love freedom too much – even though some people say that goals give you freedom. Either way, I’m not setting any specific goals for this year.

Instead, I want to set some intentions.

And maybe they will sound like goals to someone, but to me, they sound less strict. This is just something I would really like to do this year, but if I don’t do anything from that list – that’s fine too. I’m tired of pushing myself and getting nothing (except depression) in return. My ultimate intention is to just enjoy life to the fullest and be happy.

  1. Write (almost) every day.

I set this goal for myself every year, and sometimes I manage to do this for months at a time, and other times I stop and don’t open the word document for weeks. Usually, when I see that something isn’t working, I sit down and try to rethink it. I ask myself questions like: Why did I set this goal in the first place? What was I trying to achieve? Can I imagine myself actually doing this and being happy? Does it really align with my values? And also: Do I still want this?

And when it comes to this goal/intention, I always answer the same way. Yes, I still want this, it perfectly aligns with my values, and I can picture myself doing this every day and being happy. In fact, I’m the happiest when I’m writing every day. It’s similar to eating healthy food. Eating junk food sometimes feels good, but you feel bad afterward and you soon start to regret it. Eating healthy feels good and leaves you feeling good for a long time after. Same with writing every day for me. I seriously don’t know why I’m not doing it.

2. Stay more active.

At the end of 2017, I’d learned that I have some health issues, and it made me take exercise more seriously. But now I want to take this to the next level. Since it’s more of a personal intention, I don’t want to get too specific, but overall, I want to start walking/hiking a lot more.

3. Write and publish two more books (+ work on one of the dream projects).

I know I need to do this, and I want to do this. So what’s stopping me? Probably it’s just self-doubt.

As for the dream project, I’ll use it as a reward. This story has been dominating my thoughts for the past year and a half, but I need to finish the other two before I can get to it.

4. Travel more.

In 2017, I visited 5 different countries. In 2018, I haven’t traveled at all. That proves how fast everything can change… 🙄

In 2019, I want to travel to at least one country. And if I also will be able to save up for my dream trip, that would be great.

5. Connect with other writers.

I want to find more writer friends! Not critique partners, not beta readers, not even someone to discuss my ideas with. Just someone who understands all the struggles of being a writer/author and self-publishing your books. Someone to talk to 🙂

6. This is more of an actual specific goal, but I want to add character bios to my website/blog.

I love my characters! They are the only reason why I write. All my stories are centered around characters, and I want to share more about them.

I’m already thinking of ways of doing this, and hopefully, I’ll be able to do it soon.

7. And the last one is more of a wish than intention. And it’s definitely not a goal. I tried to make it into a goal once and that was a huge mistake.

I really wish that my overall mood this year will be better.

(This is one of the main reasons why I’m not setting any specific goals this year. Failing at goals, and even having to follow a strict plan or schedule depresses me.)

Everything that I wrote earlier has to do with that. I know I feel better when I write every day. I know that walking and traveling to different places and connecting with other people helps me to stay positive and excited about life. But still – there are too many days when I wake up and I don’t want to do anything. And I can’t make myself do anything.

But you know what? The more I think about it and read about it, and try to solve it, the more I understand that the best thing to do would be to just let it go. I know the reasons why I feel this way (I wasn’t like that my whole life), and I know that right now I can’t do anything to change the situation. It is what it is.

And despite everything, I can still do something. Even if I don’t feel like it.

For example, I didn’t feel like writing a blog post today. I haven’t written in a while, and it feels like going on a long hike after sitting at home for a few months. I’m not even sure if I’m making sense 😀 But I knew that I wanted to make a new blog post for a while, so I’ve decided to do it no matter what.

This year I’ll try my best to stay focused on moving forward, one step at a time. But I won’t try to push myself anymore – that never works for me. And who knows, maybe that will help me to improve my overall mood as well.

Thanks for reading!

Eternal Sunset

Do you know what I dislike the most about winter in the north?

Not the cold, not the snow – you get used to that. But the lack of sun.

By the end of December, the sun comes up around 10 am, and by 3 pm it’s already dark outside. What you get between that is a few hours of dull gray light.

Where I live, it’s common for the sun to not show itself for weeks, sometimes months at a time. But, to be honest, as much as I miss it, I prefer those gray winter days to “sunny” winter days just because:

  1. If it’s not windy, overcast usually means that it’s not that cold outside;
  2. When the sun does show up in the winter, it looks even more depressing than when it hides behind the clouds.

As it doesn’t rise high enough above the ground, you never get the actual daylight. What you get is a couple of hours of a bleak sunrise followed by a couple of hours of a dreary sunset.

Of course, it’s not as bad as it is in the Arctic, where the sun doesn’t show up at all during some time in the winter. But it’s still pretty depressing.

Then, after December 22, it flips around. I find it funny how every year, even if it’s been overcast for a month or so, the sun shows up the day or a few days after the winter solstice, as if it wants to say: “Hey, hey, I’m BACK!!” 😀 And then the days slowly start to grow longer, and usually by the beginning of May you get sick of the sun.

Although, in my case, it’s not so much the sun as it is the birds. I live in the suburbs, by the forest, and during the spring, they get up at 3 am and start singing at the top of their lungs to inform everyone that the sun’s about to rise.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the birds 🙂 I have a bird house right outside my window. And I love, love, love the sun – I miss it being high up in the sky! It’s much easier to hide from the sun when it’s always up than it is to find more daylight when it almost never shows up. But it gets a little bit annoying when you only have three hours of relative darkness during the summer. People in the north always deal with some sort of sleep problems.

And then there are summer sunsets. I don’t know why, but since I was a child, I’ve never liked them. I can’t deny that they’re beautiful, but they’ve always made me sad for some reason. They last for hours, casting everything in golden light and elongating the shadows. I never understood why people liked watching sunsets so much. To be honest, I prefer the hour after the sunset much more (I think it’s called twilight).

But then I went to Paris (the farthest south I’ve ever been) and saw the sunsets there. I was afraid that I would miss the eternal northern summer days, but it’d turned out to be quite the opposite. The sun set around 10 pm, and the sunsets themselves were quick and much more dramatic. We never get such vibrant colors of the sky in the north – it looked like the sky was set on fire. I can’t even imagine how gorgeous the tropical sunsets must be. Then it got very dark shortly after, so you could get a few hours of good sleep. So I realized that I like the summer in the south better. The only thing I couldn’t get used to were the crazy thunderstorms, when the sky turned this unnatural shade of lilac every time the lightning struck – we never get anything like that in the north.

But the winter sunsets… They are probably the worst. I can’t even explain why they seem so depressing to me. Winter sunrises can be beautiful sometimes – especially on those rare February days when the frost encrusts every branch of every tree and all the bushes are covered in heaps of sparkling snow. Then, for an hour of two, it really feels like a scene out of a fairytale.

But I would still prefer the beach and palm trees to it 😀

As for the lack of sunlight, I’ve found a way to make it a little bit easier to survive those gloomy months. I’ve discovered that if you walk outside for at least 20 minutes while the sun is still up – no matter how bad the weather is – it somehow helps to get through the long winter nights. It doesn’t seem like 20 minutes of walking could make any difference, but it does.

And then you just have to wait until the middle of February – it’s usually when the sun makes its comeback.

What Keeps You From Writing?

So, NaNoWriMo this year is not going very well for me ^^’ It was doing good for the first week, and then I’d hit the familiar roadblocks. I should have expected it, to be honest – I never work well under pressure.

You know what happened this spring? I was doing Camp NaNo in April. My overall goal was 30,000 words, and I had managed to write about 7,000 before I found myself completely unmotivated and unable to go further. So I gave up and wrote nothing for about a week or so. And then I suddenly had an idea for a new book and started writing it. I didn’t push myself to write more every day, I wasn’t trying to hit any word count, but when I calculated how many words I’d written by the end of the month, it turned out that I wrote about 28,000 words. Almost hit my goal! 😮

And it’s always been like that. I don’t even know what I’m expecting at this point.

But I plan to keep writing. After all, the main goal is to finish a book and get back into a habit of writing almost every day – not to win NaNo 😀

So I was thinking, what are the common reasons that prevent me – or writers I know – from writing or finishing their books and other projects. I want to talk about these reasons and what helps me to keep going.

  1. Having no motivation to write.

Some people say they’re just lazy. One of my best friends describes herself as an extremely lazy person. To listen to her, you would assume she’s lying on the couch all day, watching TV, when in reality she’d moved across the globe to enroll at a university to study something she’s very passionate about. And that’s her second degree, by the way.

I don’t really believe in the term “lazy”. Even if a person really does nothing but lay in bed the whole day, there’s always a reason for that. Maybe they are depressed, stuck, driven into a corner, desperate – I don’t know. But I try not to judge – maybe because I’ve been there myself and know how it feels.

Sometimes you’re trying to finish a writing project and you can’t even make yourself sit down and focus on it. Sometimes that’s because the project you’re working on right now is not the one you want to work on.

I know, I know. You can say that about any project – it’s fun in the beginning, but then you get bored with it and want to move on to something else. I used to believe in it myself until I’d actually had an experience of writing something I was very passionate about. I didn’t know I could write so fast and so consistently! I didn’t need to find the motivation to write. It all came naturally.

Ask yourself: how often do you think about your book or any other writing project? How much time do you spend “spying” on the characters? Even if you don’t really have time during the day. I used to work twelve hours a day, and I still managed to think about my worlds and my characters at every opportunity. During quick breaks; when I had to go somewhere for 20 seconds – I would dive into my imaginary worlds. Not because I forced myself to do that, but because it’s such a part of me, almost like breathing. Not that everybody has to do the same – everyone is different, and you should do what feels natural to you – but if you only think about your story when you sit down to write it, maybe you should be writing another story?

I know how difficult it is to abandon the project, especially if you’ve been working on it for years and already have done so much. But you know what? Maybe you’ll revisit this idea in the future and it will all work out. That’s what happened to me, too.

Sometimes you can finish a writing project you’re not very passionate about, but you need a lot of self-discipline to do that. You have to have a good reason to do it, and you need to get into a habit of writing regularly. But even then, don’t push yourself. Unless you work well under pressure. If you’re like me and you work horribly under pressure, then tricking yourself into thinking you don’t have to do it and then deciding to write just one sentence today might work.

 

  1. Comparing yourself to other writers.

I’ve been dealing with this for many years – I think most writers have dealt with it for a long time. And, to be honest, there’s only one thing that works for me when it comes to that.

No, maybe two things.

First – accept it as it is. Obviously, don’t go around insulting everybody just because you think they’re doing better than you are. But you don’t have to force yourself to feel happy for them, too.

Yes, of course, you don’t know what they’ve been through and what they’ve done to achieve their success. You don’t know anything about their inner struggles. I know all that. But sometimes you just feel so bad that seeing somebody else succeed exactly at what you’ve failed at might trigger your depression.

So, if you feel like it’s too much and you can’t handle it – try to distance yourself from all of those people. Unfollow them or just don’t go to the websites that you know would make you compare yourself to others and feel bad about yourself.

Everyone says that it helps, and it really does. Just after a few days of doing that, you will feel so relieved. You’ve quit this race; you’re only focusing on yourself and your goals – not keeping up with others. And it really doesn’t matter what they’re doing and how successful they are – it’s their life, not yours. And just because they’ve succeeded, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it too! Who knows, maybe in a few months or years you would even switch places with them! That happens all the time.

Follow people who genuinely inspire you without making you feel like you’re in a competition. I know people like that, and you probably do too.

If you feel like you’ve developed a bad habit of always checking up what everyone else is doing and going to those websites that only distract you and make you feel bad, set a goal of not doing that for 60 days. Of course, it’s easier said than done, so if you can’t imagine yourself not doing it for so long, try not doing it for just one day. And then another day. And then a week.

Do something instead; something you maybe wanted to do for a long time. Read a book, go for a walk, draw or paint something, try out a grain-free cupcake recipe (that’s actually on my list of things to do 😀 ). Watch something that will put you in a good mood. Write, if you’re in the mood to do that.

I used to have a bad habit of visiting this one website and spending hours just browsing it and reading what other people wrote. It wasn’t a bad website, and it didn’t make me compare myself to others, but I just felt I was wasting too much time on it and I could be doing something productive instead. So I somehow managed to stay away from it for 60 days. Before that, I couldn’t go a day without visiting it. But it worked! After 60 days, I wasn’t even thinking about this website any longer, and every time I would open it, I would feel bored. Now it’s been a few years, and I visit it only when I genuinely need to and for no more than 10 minutes.

 

  1. Asking yourself: “Why am I doing it? What’s the point?”

This is something I struggle with the most. I ask myself this questions way too often.

I know why I write – because my worlds and my characters are everything to me, and I know how bad I feel if I’m not writing. I can’t not write.

There are things in life that are within your control, and there are other things that you can’t control no matter how much you try.

I think one of the most important things is to stay true to yourself, no matter what.

So you just keep writing. Focus on that, instead of trying to find the answers to the questions that may not even exist.

Focus on what you can do. Take one step at a time if it all becomes too much for you.

I wrote another blog post on this topic some time ago. I wrote it in the summer, and now it’s November, and the weather here is horrible. So dark, and cold, and rainy. You feel the same way on the inside sometimes.

But I know that the spring will come. It’s inevitable. And they say that it’s the same way with life in general. One day it will all be better. You just have to keep going.

 

So, here are the main reasons that prevent me from writing. I know there are probably many more, but this blog post is already getting too long 😀

I hope your writing projects (or any other projects) are going well 🙂

Translating a Novel VS Writing From Scratch in a Foreign Language

Hello, everyone!

This will be a looong post – I’m warning you 😀

Today I want to tell you about my experience translating a novel versus writing it from scratch in a foreign language.

But in order to do that, I think I need to explain how it all started, and why I decided to switch to writing my stories in English.

I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. I can’t remember much of my childhood before the age of four, but I remember that I was afraid of the darkness, and almost every night I lay in bed, hiding under the blanket and shivering, convinced there were monsters all around me. To soothe myself, I started telling myself stories. They helped me dive into parallel worlds where no one could hurt me. At one point, it became such a habit I couldn’t fall asleep without these stories and even started looking forward to the time when I could reconnect with my characters and their worlds.

By the time I was five or six, I couldn’t hold it all inside any longer. I had to find a way to let those stories out. So I found my grandfather’s old typewriter and slowly started bringing those stories into the physical world.

A lot of things happened since then, and don’t worry – I’m not planning to tell you my whole life story in this blog post 😉

But all in all, I wasn’t even thinking about sharing my stories with other people before the age of twelve, and after that, even though I knew it was the one thing that brought me the most joy, I didn’t consider it being more than a hobby until I turned fifteen.

I think it was then, or maybe a year or two later, that I started thinking of publishing my stories.

But then came the inevitable question – how?

I came to the realization that I didn’t want to traditionally publish pretty soon after that. To be honest, I realized it as soon as I knew that self-publishing was an option. It may sound weird to someone – a lot of people assume that every author dreams of traditionally publishing their novels and only goes the self-publishing route because they’d failed to do it the other way. But that’s not true.

I’m not totally against traditional publishing. Actually, I’m not against it at all. But there are a few good reasons I stopped considering it as an option a long time ago.

Again, I can write a whole blog post on those reasons, but I won’t do that. Some of those reasons are personal, and I don’t want to share them online – at least not now. But in short – when it comes to my stories, I like being in control of everything. What I write, how I write it, who my characters are, where and how they live, how they are named, how the book is titled, what is on the cover.

I never wrote for money, or fame, or to please other people. I do it because there’s a feeling deeply ingrained in me that I was born for this. I don’t know where it came from, or when it all started, but it’s a part of me; almost like the essence of my being.

Some would call it stubbornness, but I think a person has a right to have their own values. Something non-negotiable; something they are not willing to compromise on. And this is that one thing for me.

In my country, if you want to traditionally publish your book, there aren’t too many options. Most of them imply changing your book to fit the publisher’s requirements. And something else I don’t want to talk about.

And when it comes to self-publishing, there aren’t too many options, either. There are actually more of them now than there were a couple of years ago, but still. I see more and more authors consider translating their novels into English to be able to upload them to Amazon and other worldwide platforms. To share their stories with the whole world – not just one country that may not understand them.

I started thinking that I want to translate my stories into English a long time ago. The main reason for that is probably that I never wrote about the country where I live. I don’t know why, to be honest. From an early age, I was obsessed with English (and other foreign) names, and so when it came to naming my characters, I gave them those names. Naturally, it meant that they had to live in another country or in a whole different world altogether. Actually, I always imagined them living in a different world, even if that world was almost identical to ours. And to this day, I still see it that way. I rarely mention real places, countries, or cities in my stories, and even when I do, I never mean that exact place. This is how I see it in my head: copy-paste Earth, then make some changes in it. After all, the characters themselves don’t exist in our world, so why would the cities be exactly how they are in reality? I never strived to sound realistic, and that’s actually one of the reasons I wanted to self-publish 😉

So, considering all that, I’ve always been a little curious how it all would sound if my characters were speaking English. Almost like when you’re watching a dubbed movie and you’re wondering how it would sound in the original language.

At one point, I started imagining the whole dialogues in my head in English. And slowly, the idea of translating something seeped into my mind.

Besides my native language, English is probably the only language I have deep feelings toward. I live very close to a tourist area, so since the early childhood, I was used to seeing English words everywhere. And besides that, I think it’s almost impossible to escape English nowadays 😀 So even though I started learning it only at the age of seven, it was a part of my life in some way long before that.

Someone would come to visit and give me a colorful book in English, and I would sit for hours and stare at the words, mesmerized by them for some reason. I would sit and watch Disney movies – which weren’t dubbed back then – entranced by the songs and the way the characters spoke, even though I couldn’t understand them. So, I don’t know why, but the English language always meant something to me. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be able to learn it if I weren’t so enchanted by it.

A couple of years ago, at the end of 2016, I felt like I was ready to try translating one of my novels.

To say it was hard in the beginning would be an understatement. It was maddening.

My native language is very different from English, so to translate, you have to reverse the entire sentences, almost turn them upside down, then inside out. After doing it over and over again for an hour or more, you feel like you start going crazy. All those words in two different languages merge in your head to the point that you don’t even know what you’re doing.

But as with everything, if you do something long enough, your mind gets used to it.

I started translating one novel, then realized I wanted to rewrite it completely and abandoned that project. I had another novel in mind – the one that I’d written during NaNoWriMo 2014 – and I thought I might do better translating it. Out of all the novels that I’d written over the years, this one I actually loved rereading. I thought it turned out to be interesting; most importantly – it was complete, and I didn’t want to change too many things about it. So I started translating it instead.

Soon I’d worked out a system. It’s easier for me to write on a small screen laptop, so I switched to working on it. I opened two word documents – one with the text of my original novel, the other one with the translated text. Each of them took up a half of the already small screen, but I got used to that quickly. I would read a sentence and translate it into English right away. Sometimes I would read an entire paragraph and rework it to sound better in translation.

There comes a point when you’re doing something long enough it becomes almost automatic. You see a sentence and almost instantly translate it in your head. At some point, I felt like I didn’t even see the original text – I understood its meaning and typed it in English immediately. I was working long hours, until my head started to spin from exhaustion (literally; I’m not exaggerating), and that was usually the indication that I had to stop and take a break.

You need discipline to complete a project such as this, of course. I can’t say I never missed a day or even the entire week due to being too busy, overwhelmed, or just wondering if it all was worth it. But I had a strong motivation to finish my translation – basically, I didn’t have another choice. So I finished it.

And then I reread what I translated 🙄 And it was barely readable.

Not all of it, of course. But I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, to shape it into something.

Besides everything, I knew I wanted to add three more chapters to the story. It wasn’t in my original plan, and mostly I wanted to add those chapters to puzzle readers even more 😀 But I had to write them.

I’d almost never attempted to write fiction in English in the past. I remember, back in school, we had an assignment once to write a short story in English, but that was so long ago, and my language skills were much worse then. Still, I was afraid. I think my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t know what to write. That I would just sit and stare at the screen, my mind completely blank.

I knew how to write fiction in my native language. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do the same in English.

To prove to myself that I would be able to come up with something, I started journaling in English. I wrote about my fears, and after some time, I started to believe that maybe I could do this.

I remember, one day – or actually, it was late at night – I was reading something when I suddenly wanted to try it out.

I thought about that abandoned mermaid project, and for some reason, I wanted to write a scene from it.

So, before the motivation had dwindled, I opened up a new word document and wrote the first sentence that came to my mind.

And then… something magical happened.

I don’t know how else to describe it. Don’t even know if there are words to describe it.

I started writing, and the words just came. They emerged from some depths of my mind, and I couldn’t tell how I even remembered them. It felt very different from writing in my native language. Everything was different, but somehow… it all felt so right. Almost as if it was the way things were supposed to be.

I finished writing that scene and felt exhilarated. I’ll never forget that feeling. All of that time, I was doubting myself, doubting my decision to switch to writing in English. I even cried once or twice, thinking that maybe I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. But that experience – writing my first piece of fiction in English late at night – was the one and only proof that I needed to keep going.

I wanted to experience it again.

From that day forward, I knew I’d never translate a novel again. I’m happy that I’ve had that experience, and I’m able to help out friends when they ask me to translate something for them. There are also a few novels that I’ve started writing and that I’m planning to partially translate (including the novel that I’m writing right now – there are some scenes in it that I’d partially translated because I liked the original version and wanted to save some of it), but mostly, I switched to writing in English from scratch, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s wondering what would be better for them.

Although I don’t know – for someone, translating might be better. But I know a couple of people besides myself who came to a similar conclusion.

I understand it. When you wrote for so many years, poured your heart into your stories, and then one day you wake up and realize that you have to switch to writing in the entirely different language in order to make your dream of publishing your book come true – it’s hard. It’s frustrating. You’re asking yourself, “Why?”.

And it’s not easy. One time, when I was still writing in my native language, I had a thought that it would be easier for me if I switched to writing in English. Not that it would be easier to write fiction in a foreign language – I think what I meant by that is that it would be somehow easier to express myself in English. And also, descriptions – I’ve always struggled with them in the past, and I’ve definitely found it easier to write them in English.

One of the hardest parts was punctuation. It follows a completely different logic, and it takes time to understand that logic, but I think I’ve made a lot of progress in it.

I also think that one of the common fears is that you won’t be able to express yourself fully in a foreign language. And for someone, it might be true. But at one point, you start to understand that all the words in your head are connected to a feeling, or to an image, or to something else. So you just need to trust yourself; trust your brain that it will come up with exactly the words you need. And it will – I promise you. You will be amazed at the words that will somehow emerge from the depths of your mind at the right moment.

I still use translator from time to time – it’s always open when I’m writing – mostly when I’m blanking on certain words or remember how the word sounds but not sure how it is written. Sometimes I check the meaning of the most obvious words just to be sure I’m using them correctly, and I try not to use synonyms I see for the first time. (And the most frustrating thing is when you know what you want to say, but you can’t think of a word in ANY language 😀 ).

The more you write, the easier it becomes, of course. But I think the most important thing is your relationship with the language itself.

In one of those journal entries I wrote back then, I talked about it. How my relationship with English has evolved into something bigger. How I almost feel like I was supposed to take that path. I’ve always been escaping the reality with my stories… and what better way to escape it completely than writing them in a different language?

Language is so much more than just words. You really start seeing the world differently when you learn a new one. And English really is so beautiful. It sounds like a song; like a poem that would appeal even to me 🙂

As of now, I’ve translated one novel into English, wrote one in English from scratch, and started writing a few more. And I was also able to finally self-publish two of my books 🙂

And I keep moving forward. I’m curious where this path will take me.

It kind of feels surreal sometimes.

If you’ve read this post till the end – thank you 🙂 Truly, thank you.

I hope you got something from it.

My New Project + Excerpt

Hello, everyone!

Remember how I talked about having too many writing projects and needing to pick out one to focus on? 😀

Well, I think I’ve finally decided which one it will be. Maybe. Sort of 😀

It will be the fairy story.

I reread it recently and resolved to finish it by the end of this year. I’ve already gotten so far into this story; I see the next scenes and the ending so clearly. I just need to sit down and write this book.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the story yet, but in short, it is about a musician and a fairy living in his garden. The idea came to me a few years ago, in the spring. I was feeling down and tried to cheer myself up by thinking of different ideas. I think my mood had influenced the story a little bit because the main character suffers from a mild depression.

This story is also connected to two of my other stories. The first one is already published, and it’s called Campfire Stories. It takes place it a totally different world, and it’s kind of hard to explain how exactly they are connected without revealing the whole plot. I’ll just say that in Campfire Stories, the main characters come across a fairy at one point. And this fairy is one of the main characters in my new novel.

In Campfire Stories, I don’t explain that encounter, and I leave it to the reader to decide whether it was a dream, an illusion, or just a part of someone’s imagination. All of these stories can be read as stand-alone novels. But in this new book, I explain exactly what went on in those scenes.

The third novel, by the way, will be a high fantasy, and that’s a project for a distant future – I’m nowhere near being ready to work on that. But it’s hinted at in the new book.

Have I puzzled you already? 😀 I feel like I have.

I’ve never talked about Campfire Stories on this blog, and I want to tell a little bit more about it in the near future. Right now, I’m planning to format it a little bit better, and also go through it one more time to see if I can catch any typos and other mistakes – and then reupload it. This story is kind of weird (as are most of my stories 😀 ), but I still love it.

I have Pinterest boards for both Campfire Stories and the new book.

So the ghost story will have to wait, I guess 🙄 Maybe I’ll work a little bit on a mermaid story if I’ll have any time left.

I’m still thinking if I should participate in NaNoWriMo this year. A part of me is afraid of it, but, on the other hand, I think that I need to focus on my writing as much as I can right now. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little down and thinking too much about all the things that are going wrong in my life… I need to dive back into my imaginary worlds and forget about the reality for a bit.

I want to finish this blog post by sharing an excerpt from the new story. Every time I read it, it puts a smile on my face (but also makes me kind of sad… :/ ).

Here it is:

“Close your eyes,” he said, then let go of her hands.

She did.

“What do you hear?”

The only thing Mimi could hear were thoughts swarming in her head. Visions she was grateful he couldn’t see. Her thundering heart. But she willed herself to do what he said and shift her attention to the outside world.

She swallowed one more time. “I hear… Ollie running around. Crickets… in the distance. Wind rustling the leaves. Some nightly bird singing. Footsteps… Are you stepping back?”

“Yes.” She sensed a smile in his voice. “What else?”

I hear your voice, she wanted to say. So beautiful and soft. It felt like a silky fabric brushing along her skin.

Her breath got caught in her throat. There was no way she would tell him that; ever.

Focus.

 

P.S. Mimi is not a fairy in this story.