Featured Writer on Wellness: Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on July 17, 2014 • views: 1048

Elizabeth on bench 2

The biggest physical challenge is being sedentary.

My two favorite hobbies—writing and reading—require no more from me than sitting still and turning pages or typing. And I’m way too comfortable with that.

For example, I’d never look up from my computer and say, “Hey! You know what? I think I’ll go for a sprint around the neighborhood. It’s time to get out and exercise a bit.”

I Forget to Eat!

Another challenge is getting so caught up in work I forget to eat. Now that both my kids are in school full time, there’s no one around to feed.

Snacking is not a problem for me; rather, it’s realizing that it’s noon and all I’ve ingested is coffee. Lots of it. Not great for your health, and definitely bad for your skin.

I’ve yet to find a solution to either problem, honestly. I’m not very disciplined. I’ll keep reading your blog for tips.

Writing By Hand Helps Me Break Through

The biggest emotional challenge for me is self-doubt. It’s a constant hurdle.

I’ve felt validated in many ways the past few years;  I know I can write well, but I also know I can write crap. Other people see the good stuff—the version that went through countless revisions and probably an editor or two. I see the crap—in first drafts, second drafts, third drafts.

All writers do, and you know it’s normal and part of the process, but it still makes it difficult to start new projects knowing they’re going to be terrible for a while.

One solution I’ve found is writing by hand. I grab a pen and notebook and start scribbling. Anything. Character sketches, bits of dialogue, random thoughts, scene outlines—it almost always helps me break through, and then I switch to typing.

My Children Need to Know that Dreams are Never Frivolous

The one thing that’s kept me true to my path is being a mother—because I need my children to know that dreams are never frivolous.

When I was eleven, my daughter’s age, I wrote constantly. It never occurred to me then that I wasn’t good enough, or that I was wasting my time. I knew I’d grow up and be a writer.

But somewhere in my teens cynicism and self-doubt hit, and for a period of about ten years, I wrote almost nothing. During my first pregnancy, with Abigail, is when I began again.

It would be many years later when I actually published my first story, but I never again gave up, because I wouldn’t want my kids to give up.  And now I have this beautiful memory of my daughter’s face when I told her The Fourth Wall was getting published.

She makes me feel about ten feet tall.

Advice for a Young Writer: The Biggest Challenge is Yourself

I would tell a young person dreaming of becoming a writer that the biggest challenge will always be yourself.

The way to get past that varies for everyone, but it helps to keep the one person in mind who believes in you most and who makes all the hard work worth it.

The one person whose face you imagine lighting up when you say you’ve had your first story/article/book accepted for publication. It may be a parent, a best friend, a teacher.

Keep that face in mind when you’re writing. She’s your touchstone.

* * *

Elizabeth Naranjo grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming before escaping the cold winters and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She now lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children. Her short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in “Literary Mama,” “SLAB Literary Magazine,” “The Portland Review,” “Hospital Drive,” “Phoenix New Times,” “Babble,” and “Bartleby Snopes.” The Fourth Wall is her first novel.

For more information about Elizabeth and her work, please see her website.


FourthWall_CVR_XSMLThe Fourth Wall: When Marin was little and monsters chased her through nightmares, she learned to weave her own dreams.

Her mother called the lucid dreaming a gift, and when an accident takes her mother and leaves her baby brother an empty shell, Marin uses this gift to spin a new reality for herself. One without time or sorrow. A world without memory.

But just when Marin thinks she’s safe in her make-believe fantasy world, the monsters come back and her dream turns to a nightmare. Something in the dream doesn’t want Marin to wake up.

In order to heal herself and her family, Marin must face the truth she’s forgotten and conquer what lies behind the fourth wall.

Available at Amazon.

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