Saturday, 27 May 2017

On Measuring Progress and Being Kind

I'm not really writing at the moment.

It's kind of hard to admit that. Writing is such a huge part of me that sometimes I feel if I'm not writing I don't really know who I am. It's also one of the major ways I measure my own success, and if I haven't got any words down this week/month/year then what am I doing with my life?

I'm trying to get out of that headspace. It's okay not to be writing. And to be honest, with the way things are at the moment trying to force myself to write would be a bad thing. The writing would suffer, and so would I.

Let me explain.

I'm just about to finish off a thirty eight hour work week in what is supposed to be a part time job. Part time so I can work on writing as well. But a few people out sick has left us extremely short handed and I've been helping cover some of the hours. Which would ordinarily be absolutely fine but a) it's been hot as balls this week and b) I'm in the middle of moving house.

So yeah, not a lot of writing been done this month at all. But a much lower word count isn't just a thing for this month, it's something that's been haunting me all year.

So far for 2017 I've managed to write around 25,000 words across original fiction, fan fiction, nonfiction and poetry. And that feels like a failure because in previous years I've managed that in a single month. And I am trying so hard to be okay with fewer words this year, but it's hard. It's hard to be kind to myself, to acknowledge there's a reason my writing productivity is so low.

That reason is my shitty mental health.

Granted I've been depressed and anxious for a long time now, but over the last seven months it has been so much worse than usual. To the point where the time and energy I usually allocate to writing has been taken up with trying to managed my asshole brain. Which, if you've suffered from mental illness yourself, you'll know is a full time job in and of itself.

I'm still recovering from that, still waiting for therapy, still adjusting to new medication. And that's ok. This stuff takes time, time I wish i could be using for other things, but it's important.

The myth that mental illness is good for creativity is just that, a myth. My depression makes it so much harder than usual to write. The fact I'm writing at all is incredible, and I need to remember that. I need to be kinder to myself. I'll get back into the swing of things eventually. I'll get back to my monster word counts eventually.

That's not to say I've been completely idle on the writing and publishing front. I published the paperback version of my first novel. I set up a Facebook page, and a more official website is in the works. I'm formatting my next novel and working on a third. I'm still writing. I'm still publishing.

I had a plan for this year. One that did not include a slight mental breakdown, but that's what I got. The plan will still get followed, just a little more slowly than expected. And that's okay.

I have time.

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