Okay, at this point I think we all know that people who romanticize writers and artists with depression are full of shit, right? Right.
That said, this winter has been rough. Like, really rough. Between finishing my Master’s degree (yay!) and the general emo-coaster that is Publishing, my productivity has taken a major hit. Add anxiety and depression to that and getting anything at all done feels all but insurmountable. The why bothers try to dig in their claws. Cue: hours and hours of binge-watching ER on Hulu, because…yeah. On the upside, my 90s kid self rejoiced, because how can you not?
Anyway, as healthy as it is to take a break, mine was getting out of hand, because I barely could bring myself to get the essentials done, which is when I know that Things Are Bad. Along with this comes an unparalleled propensity to beat myself up for how much I wasn’t writing and getting done in general, which unfortunately doesn’t help. Quite the opposite, really. Did that stop me?
The problem is there is no magical fix to a depressive spiral. You don’t get yourself out of it overnight. At least I don’t. What did help me was to take a serious step back and start reclaiming my productivity little by little. I’ll write a separate post on tools that help me stay productive soon, but with this most recent break in my usual tendency to cram as much into a 24-hour-day as possible, what helped me a lot was to reflect on my process and break it into tiny steps. Focused sprints or just time on task helped a ton with this. Worked on something WIP-related for 25 minutes today? Great! Actually got a 30-minute sprint in? Awesome! Submitted my work to my critique group on time? Success!
Because, let’s face it, getting back into writing is hard, especially when you’re dealing with things that take up huge amounts of emotional energy you don’t have at the time. So, baby steps are the way to go. Some days are better, some days are not. Either way, journaling and goal setting have been a massive help for me–as long as I kept my goals realistic and allowed myself to have off days, because right now, they are bound to happen, and beating myself up about it to the point of absolute immobility is incredibly counter-productive. So says my rational mind.
Anyway, with that, here are my goals for March. Sharing goals with others (I also started an accountability group with my CPs and others) is super helpful because they force you to check in with yourself and assess what you can do realistically. Also, one thing I’ve found is that if I start off a month strong, I am more likely to continue this streak. So, here go my plans for March:
- Edit the WIP up to Chapter 20 (There are 25 in this thing right now, and I’ve set myself a mid-April deadline for this pass of edits). This means getting through a chapter every 2-3 days. Doable? Doable.
- Read one craft book a month to develop my craft (I’ve started an awesome online writing craft book club on FB. If you want more information on it, message me!)
- Read at least 10 books this month (one awful corollary to depression for me is a serious decline in how much I read. This is a Problem. I’m working on fixing this. Send me all the happy queer SFF to help.)
- Submit things to my critique group on time. (Don’t procrastinate, Self. You can do this.)
- Finish a beta read for one of my CPs.
- Journal regularly (both blogging and Bullet Journaling–watch out for a post on my writing BuJo coming soon!)
What are your writing and life goals for March? Leave me a comment and let’s keep each other accountable together!
Cheers and happy writing!