At the moment I’m writing this, I’m sitting just a few words over 40,000 for the month. This was a month of slow, painful editing so the fact that I’m track when all I’ve felt like I’m doing is spinning my wheels is nice. The serial Wrimo in me hates to see the words rack up so slowly but there are things I needed to accomplish this month and I’m accomplishing them so that’s all that matters. Editing is useful but slow on the word count.
But here’s what’s bogging me down in a swamp of writing blah even though I’m still making forward progress…
Folks, this is the election that is going to finally drive me all the way into madness and despair. I’ve been using a social media blocker to shut down Twitter and Facebook during my working hours but I still end up getting sucked in. Social media used to be my little break from writing and now it’s non-stop soul-crushing politics whenever I log in. Couple this with my only offline conversations, usually with my parents and husband, are also about the election and I’m going completely nuts. There’s no break from it!
And it’s distracting in a way normal things aren’t because it’s terrifying and looming and my brain latches onto every new bit of news because it feels like the more I know, the better I’ll be able to keep my family safe (which is dumb) but instead it just drags me down into this endless spiral of doom and worry. From a life perspective, this isn’t healthy, but from a writing standpoint, it’s damaging because I can’t get my brain out of this obsession mode to concentrate on what I have to be writing.
Normally, writing is a great distraction from real life but this month is different because…
I’m burnt out from too many deadlines.
I bit off more than I could chew this month. Much more. It was (mostly) intentional because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do the impossible. I have no one to blame but myself but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s been a hard summer, writing-wise. I’ve been gogogogo on a small handful of projects until I’m completely sick of them. Usually, when I get burnt out on one project, I take a break to work on another for a while but I literally didn’t have the luxury to do that this month which was a problem. (Especially since “take a break” is literally the only advice other writers have to offer on this problem!)
At first, I spent all my time in a state of total panic that I wouldn’t be able to get it all done on time. And then, when it became clear I was going to be able to pull it off, I found myself in a new hell. Namely, I finished the first thing, handed it in, and got super vague comments that said I wasn’t done after all. I’m in this limbo where I can’t mentally start something else until the first thing is done but it still feels done to me despite being told otherwise. So most writing days I open these deadline projects and read through them again and again trying to figure out how to “finish it” and always come to the same depressing conclusion: It feels done to me. I don’t want to change anything else. But if the person who commissioned it doesn’t think it’s done, then that means I have to change something, doesn’t it? It’s fairly soul crushing and the first time writing has been this Not Fun in a very long time. I don’t even know what the solution is other than to just hand it in again and be like, it’s done, yo, fight me, and see what happens just so I can mentally move on to the next thing.
I have completely forgotten how to take breaks.
Since my daughter was born, I’ve used every spare second to work. My breaks have been working on a different writing project than the one that was stressing me. This was necessary in order to still get everything done with the limited time I had and wasn’t too bad because I do enjoy mostly all of my work or I wouldn’t do it. But the weird flip side of this is that I haven’t done anything just for fun in so long I’ve forgotten what I enjoy. “Self care is so important!” people say and I’m struck with this terrible realization that I have zero idea of how to care for myself.
I play The Sims once in a while and that’s always good for zoning out but, surely, I used to do other things for fun? Reading used to be fun but now my entire To Read list is books I’m reading for research of one kind or another and only remind me that I should be working on my own stuff. Last night I deliberately tried to take the night off and had no idea what to do with myself. Luckily my dad had rented Zootopia and let us borrow it to watch or I would still be sitting on the couch in despair, trying to figure out what I used to do for fun. The fact that everyone’s advice is to “take a break” and I don’t know how to do that and just end up working more because I can’t think of anything else to do has created this stupid cycle that is messing with my head.
Yes, this is a whining, first world problem. But it’s a factor in the swirl of my mind space this month contributing to the bog. And, as always, there’s…
My promise to be totally transparent has a limit and that’s my personal life so all I can say is, stuff is happening over here yo, and it’s casting a wide shadow over everything in my entire life. Nothing bad, but change in general causes ruckus and that’s where we are. It’s cutting into my working hours big time (which makes me resent the time I’m wasting going over and over the same projects even more) and generally messing with my head. In the short-term, it will be better once all these deadline are past. What happens in the long-term, though, remains to be seen. I need to rethink some things, formulate a plan. There is very little in this world that cannot be fixed with a spreadsheet so I’m confident I’ll figure it out. But in the meantime, it’s just more mud on the bog.
So that’s where I am. This month will absolutely not be one of those banner high word count months but I have accomplished a lot of things that are exciting and cool. But instead of feeling excited and like a badass, like I thought I’d feel if I actually pulled all of this off, I’m too burnt out to actually enjoy the accomplishment.
That said, there is only a week left in this month and then the pressure lets up a bit. Hopefully, once I’m on the other side of this chaos, I’ll be able to better appreciate this month. For now, it’s head down, back to work through the slog.
How’s your month in writing treating you? Are you in a writing bog of your own or are have you broken free into the sunshine?