A writing exercise with no adjectives or adverbs

This is an exercise I completed from the book Steering the Craft and the point was to write 200-350 words with no adjectives or adverbs. I wrote just over 200 words.

The dragon continued to talk, and he echoed and he boomed. He was surrounded by people but they stayed outside of the range of the dragon’s tail. The dragon stood before a throne in the center of the room. The cat sat on the throne, washing her face with her paws, and continued to ignore him. The people gathered at the edges of the room continued to lock back and forth between the two. No one was talking. Everyone ignored the corpses on the floor, burned by fire. The room remained filled with haze. The people did not understand the dragon’s words but the cat could. Was the dragon uttering grievances or making demands? This went on for over an hour and the dragon was showing no signs of quitting. The people wondered – it was written on their faces – could they leave? Would it anger the dragon? Then the cat stretched, arching her back, and the dragon paused in his monolog and leaned in to peer at the cat. The silence stretched. The people leaned in, watching, waiting. The cat sneezed. The dragon flinched, banging his head on the ceiling. Then the cat looked at the dragon, and spoke a word. The people gasped for they understood. The dragon recoiled, turned, and walked out.

But I can’t write every day

My relationship with writing is complicated and borders on ridiculous. A lot of writer advice says to write every day, every day, every day. Or else. I can’t do that, I can’t keep it up. Quite simply my health won’t allow it – both my physical and mental chronic diseases – but I continue to shame myself for not writing every day because I have so much time so I should be writing every day. That’s not helpful! One might even argue it’s not healthy!

On top of this shame I hold this belief that there’s no reason for me to bother to write since I can’t write every day because I’ll never get anything done. This is further enforced by the fact that I’ve never finished anything. (outside of the writing ‘classes’ I did on the Coursera platform. Wait nevermind, I didn’t finish the last one class that was the capstone. Seeeee what I’m talking about? Sigh.)

Recently I’ve come to wish that I’d majored in creative writing in grad school, not applied sociology. I can’t be disabled and do anything with an applied sociology degree, aside from be angrier at the world than the average compassionate human being. But I can’t change that. I did a lot of writing in grad school, but none of it was fiction.

Instead I need to change the dynamic of the relationship I have with writing. I have accepted that I cannot write every day for a variety of reasons, the top of the list being because of my health and physical limitations. Like I can’t type all day and still use my hands the next day, even with one of those natural ergonomic keyboards. Even typing this now my fingers have started to throb. Or at least I think I’ve accepted this, maybe I haven’t yet?

The biggest thing to change, maybe, is the belief that having yet to finish a project (usually novel size projects) doesn’t mean I’ll never finish a project, regardless of how frequently I work on it. There’s plenty of (fantasy) authors out there I can be… inspired by? GRRM still hasn’t finished his series. We’ve been waiting on Rothfuss to finish his last book for how many decades? I compare myself to others but I only do it in a way that further defeats me. That’s a poorly worded sentence. I’m trying to say I seem to only compare myself to others when it enforces my negative beliefs. I say seem to because I’m sure there’s something I’m not remembering or there’s a different area of life where I don’t have this issue. Wait, maybe I say seem to so I can hope that it’s not true. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to write a book, unless your publisher gave you a deadline.

To further compound this problem I’ve made, I have serious issues coming up with new ideas. New ideas take a lot of energy and it’s difficult to tell when an idea is good. I haven’t figured that out yet. By good I mean something useable, to develop, and spend energy on. I want to write a book sized story. I have premises but I’m not sure I have any actual ideas. Developing a premise into a book idea is exciting but also terrifying because then you have a book to write. Books are huge projects I have no other context in life for, including work or school. The longest projects I had in school lasted one semester. The only other creative hobby I have is knitting and it doesn’t compare.

So because of my anxiety and depression and memory problems, I find it easier to not do anything and then I find myself wishing I was writing or wishing I wanted to be writing. It’s a sick little loop that’s not helpful and I need to destroy it. I don’t write because writing is hard and I make no progress and never finish anything. I shame myself because I’m not writing. Continue to not write. Rinse, repeat. This is gone on long enough that I feel like brainstorming is a mountain that’s impossible to climb and who wants to climb an impossible mountain? (I know there are people out there that do, I don’t understand them.)

Finishing reading Writing Down The Bones helped me to put these feelings into words. With the words attached to the feelings maybe I can move forward. Finally. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ll have to continue to fight this cycle if I want to write. Sometimes it might go away, but it’ll keep trying to come back. I’ve given it a life of its own. The real trick here might be remembering all of this and remembering that what I’m doing to myself doesn’t help my mental health.

Or maybe the trick is to continue to focus on writing despite everything. Because writing is magic.

Some links on Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs

Information and pages to color. The first link is in depth! From a museum!

https://glencairnmuseum.org/newsletter/2019/3/19/hex-signs-sacred-and-celestial-symbolism-in-pennsylvania-dutch-barn-stars

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Dutch-Hex-Sign-Style-Guide

https://globalperspectives.info/coloring/p/pennsylvania-dutch-hex-sign-coloring-pages.html

https://www.sunnybrookstudio.com/patterns-hex.shtml

http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/arts-culture/pennsylvania-dutch-art

Things I Noticed in Therapy

I’ve decided that when I have something I don’t know where or who to share with I’m going to put it here. Right now in life this will probably be in relation to dissociation and DID.

During therapy today one of my parts came out and talked (can’t remember how it started). This is the first time I noticed that her tone of voice is slightly different from mine! She also prefers shorter sentences and less words compared to my speech patterns.

When we were talking to the therapist sometimes I was in control of the talking and sometimes she was in control. I started sitting differently – more forward – when she was fronting/co-fronting too. I felt like something was sliding back and forth in my brain. Like me and my part were sitting beside each other and sometimes she’d slide the talking block (for lack of anything else to slide) back to me in a hurry because she’d suddenly had enough of having to do the talking but then other times she’d grab it back because she was excited to be doing the talking.

I also feel validated after having this experience because I have such strong feelings, including that my part is happy after having an interaction with someone nice. These feelings are too strong and too real and too present for this to all be made up. Unfortunately I also have a headache.



DID: Just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it’s not real

characters from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore. with the text: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Because of working with a therapist to meet and understand my alters or parts, and fighting the urge to declare none of it real, this line really spoke to me.

Since February (2020) I’ve been working with a therapist who’s experienced with dissociation symptoms and DID. Before working with this therapist, a year ago I  worked with a therapist who introduced me to internal family systems therapy and with her guidance I was working to identify my parts. At that time I hadn’t read anything about DID or dissociative disorders and was only recently introduced to the concept of dissociation. I was dissociating a lot but not blacking out completely?? Then that therapist changed jobs and I started seeing a therapist who was experienced in BPD and since I was diagnosed with BPD this seemed like a good thing. We started EMDR. But then the therapist who was doing EMDR with me went on maternity leave so I needed a new therapist. Enter the therapist who’s experienced with DID. So I went back to working on my parts and shared what I’d already learned/identified when I started seeing her. 

Since February I’ve also done some reading on DID and OSDD and so I’ve learned a little… but have so much more to learn. I’ve also read a bit of different dissociative disorder subreddits and picked up some information that way. I haven’t dug into anything too deep because it can lead me to dissociate harder. 

A year ago I had names for two of my parts and identified as many as eight parts but had very little information for quite a few. You have to trick your brain into sharing information. I signed my name to drawings I made, wrote out questions in notebooks, or started a monolog via typing on the laptop hoping the monolog might turn into dialog. All of these things got me different results. 

Some observations – I have a dissociative disorder. I think.

I feel very stuck right now. A year ago I was working with a therapist who was guiding me through internal family systems therapy. I was doing things people with dissociative disorders do like identifying my different parts. I answered the hundreds of questions of a tool used to measure dissociation. It was enlightening and stressful all at the same time because I was discovering the way my brain always was wasn’t normal and maybe it could be better. Then I had to switch therapists to someone who also had a different focus and we did different things, like EMDR therapy. All of the confusing work and all of the energy I spent learning about and trying to map and identify my parts was…for nothing? I have a list of my parts with characteristics as well as some art trying to draw relationships between my parts. That therapist said that EMDR would make me feel better so I did EMDR.

Fast forward to a month ago and I just started with yet another therapist who has yet another focus….Sigh. And as part of the getting acquainted phase of the process we have talked about dissociation and my parts and wait a second. I do have parts? What does that mean exactly?

Since then I have done some reading on my own and now understand the hundreds of questions of a dissociation measure test (that I cannot remember the name of other than MID for short) is actually a diagnostic tool. I also understand that trying to map and identify your parts is a thing people with a dissociative disorder (like DID) do.

And now, this week, I’ve realized that exercise helps me to not dissociate and exercising every day is great for my brain but my physical chronic illnesses can’t do it. I noticed, thanks to my bullet journal trackers, that when I was exercising less/inconsistently I was also dissociating in that way where you feel like someone else is driving the car and you’re just watching ’em. I suspect I did this a lot through most of the 4-5 months that I was doing EMDR. I suspect it didn’t really get bad until after I started to remember trauma from childhood in a more detailed manner. And not doing EMDR for nearly a month is why I stopped dissociating.

Which means the questions I answered about dissociation in a different test would possibly be different since I was dissociating when I answered them.

Did the time that I spent pushing aside the feelings and thoughts related to/coming from my different parts slow down my healing? Like years ago I accepted that my memory is shitty and there’s nothing I can do about it. And about the same amount time I accepted that sometimes I will have thoughts pop in my head seemingly from no where, with no origination point but that I should still trust these thoughts as my memories.

Also also while dissociating more I was depressed more and isolating myself in general. With less dissociating I engage on social media and I’m more likely to leave the house for any reason.

So now I’m wondering if I should stop EMDR for a while and do something else. And I’m wondering what my psychiatrist thinks about all this. And I’m wondering if doing more internal family systems therapy could help integrate my parts and give me back some of my memory. (What did I do last week? I can’t remember. Oh. A movie! Saw a movie! That’s all I remember.)

I feel stuck. Earlier I dumped out my coffee because suddenly I (we?) didn’t like coffee. But I’m drinking green tea right now and it’s just fine. Something is definitely.. off. And I’m wondering if a dissociative disorder diagnosis would explain everything from episodes where I go from incoherently upset to calm, cool, and focused in the blink of an eye, feeling like the thoughts in my head are screaming, and not being able to decide what to do – because my brain actually wants to do everything now. And that’s just what I can think of right now.

I’d like my dissociation and shitty fucking memory to get attention for once in my life and if being diagnosed with a dissociative disorder on top of all my other disorders is what it takes then so be it.

Everything I learned from tracking my mood for a year

In 2019 I used a “pixel-a-day” spread in my journal to track my mood. To keep it simple I used five colors/moods total with no more than two moods/colors in one day. Two colors in one day usually meant mood swings occurred.

My moods or options for filling out the pixel grid were a mood for the day to summarize how I felt in general. My scale is great, good, average/usual, meh/difficult, and terrible. I did not have a terrible day all of 2019. To be fair I didn’t have anything terrible happen like deaths or break ups or family dinners. Take what you can get. The difficult days usually ended up being when I was having a difficult time coping with my mental illness symptoms. Sometimes the difficult days had triggers like being sick and sickness had more of an effect on my mood than I realized.

I also set up a pixel-a-day tracker for my chronic fatigue. It tracked my fatigue in a similar fashion with a scale of low, usual, bad, and terrible. (Low being good.) I was surprised to find that higher levels of fatigue did not automatically negatively affect my mood like being sick seemed to. I learned that taking a b12 supplement did make a big difference in my fatigue and possibly in my mood. CBD oil might also help me with mood swings.

So the biggest thing I learned is that bad days are never as bad as they seem when you’re in the middle of them. I thought for sure at the beginning of 2019 I’d end up with at least one terrible horrible no good very bad day (who gets the reference?) but I was wrong. Next is that a little part of me enjoyed tracking my mood and fatigue because I could see how my mood and mental illness symptoms improved through the course of the year with work and medicine as well as what helped my fatigue. Sort of related is that looking back at the graph is a reminder that bad moods and difficult days don’t continue forever and even small things can make it better.

And some days I found myself grudgingly admitting I had a good day, despite something that happened to make me feel bad. There’s research that says the brain remembers bad experiences better than good experiences and I feel this acutely. So for 2020 I’m trying to be… more objective? More open minded about rating my moods and we’ll see if that affects the year overall or not.

Overall the pixel-a-day tracker for a journal is fun and as long as you limit the options it’s quick and easy to do every day.

I think my body is trying to tell me something

I’ve had this thing going on the past few days? longer? A week? I feel like there’s something going on in the back of my brain. My brain is processing something in the background. I’ve realized only today that it might be why I’ve been hit with sudden terrible world stopping fatigue more than once. Sometimes my body is so tired it wants everything to stop. No input, no output, just stop.

I can best describe this as feeling as if my brain is trying to tell me something…. But that doesn’t seem like something anyone can understand. I think it’s related to EMDR therapy. Maybe. Probably. I don’t know. Previously I’ve felt this compulsion to sit down and write about my past but then when I sit down there are no words. So now I try again.

(CW for references to childhood trauma)

I suppose I cannot explain this clearly enough for anyone to understand. I’ve thought about my past childhood trauma from when I was a tiny helpless baby. How I learned at an early tender age to dissociate to deal with my physical and emotional pain. I’ve thought about my CPTSD diagnosis and how my multiple physical diseases are physical manifestations of my psychological diseases. I’ve thought, again, about how if I had an entirely different first five years of life I’d be an entirely different person. What if I hadn’t been neglected or sexually abused. What if adults in charge – foster families, social workers, judges – had a better understanding of the effects of trauma and stress on children? Would I be better able to love and to share my feelings? Better able to reciprocate? But I’m not – not that person, as much as I wish I could be. I’m broken, cracked. Only I can repair the damage …. but only so much damage can be repaired …. and I don’t know where to start.

I’m so tired of being different and knowing how different I am and not knowing what to do about it. 

I experienced such stress and trauma, such upheaval in the first five years of life that .y brain was irreversibly changed. My love was damaged and stunted when I was severely neglected as a small baby. I witnessed things that children should not be exposed to. Still a small child I learned that adults aren’t to be trusted and that everyone leaves eventually. Abandoned so many times I’ve come to always fear it, in the core of my being, even when the fear is thoroughly unfounded. Even my ability to adapt to new situations has been permanently hobbled as my body became consumed with survival. 

I’m so tired of all of my psychological diseases manifesting as physical diseases. So long as a child I was asked to be brave, told to be quiet, left alone by different adults – foster parents, social workers. So long growing up did I push all my feelings and fears and worries down and deep. So long I pushed everything down for fear of retaliation. So long have I worried, wished and wanted, not knowing why. 

And now? Now I don’t know what to do. What I should do. What I can do. I’m stuck doing the same pointless actions day in and day out. Wishing I could be something more and left wondering what I could have been if my early life had been different.

Writing While Anxious

I have figured out that my anxiety causes me to second guess myself through most of the writing process. It makes it nearly impossible to successfully brainstorm anything because I have a lot of trouble accepting that when you’re brainstorming (or whatever you want to call it) it’s completely okay to have more than one option and not know which direction you want to go. I’ve also come to recognize that this anxiety either freezes me out of writing completely or slows the entire process down to an excruciating crawl. This is especially annoying now that I’ve learned after NaNoWriMo 2019 that a writing session has the power to drastically improve my mood, probably because of how much I enjoy the writing process.

I wish that anxiety didn’t destroy my enjoyment of writing. How much I enjoy the writing process also makes the anxiety worse because I kick myself for being anxious and not writing so it’s a cycle that feeds back in on itself so it can continue on forever.

Anyways, I haven’t addressed why I’ve started writing this on this day. I wrote every day in NaNoWriMo 2019 but in December everything slowly fell apart. Part of the issue was realizing a new angle in my story which meant I had/have to go back and redo a lot of work – probably anyways. No that’s an excuse.

Since then, the longer it’s been since I’ve written I feel like I haven’t been able to write. When I think about writing I go and do something else, or push aside the thought because I have this tangled up knot inside that’s between me and my writing. I know the best way to deal with anxiety is to finally stop and face it but it’s still taken me weeks to get to the point of acknowledging this. So I’m writing this trying to face my anxiety and knowing it’s anxiety but not knowing what I should say. Even now, second guessing myself I am.

So. Writing. I have my developed idea that I started writing some scenes for in NaNoWriMo 2019. One of the problems with that story is that I don’t have that much character development completed yet. You can get so much advice on plot and setting and world building but less so characters. But I’m getting off topic again. I also have an idea that’s barely a premise that’s completely different and I’m wondering if I should switch projects and develop this old new idea. Right, that sounds like a lot of excuses now that I’ve gone back and reread it.

Anyways. I suspect anxiety is making me want to switch ideas too because getting further into an idea and having more content is overwhelming for my anxiety.

Now that I’ve babbled on about anxiety and reread my words it sounds like I’m making excuses to avoid writing so that I can avoid my anxiety but it’s not working because I’m anxious about not writing because I made a goal to have 28,000 words by 12/31/2019 and I’m still stuck on 18,000.

Ah hah! That’s the first time in my life, outside of a NaNoWriMo that I’ve made a word count goal and apparently it flew back in my face.

So no more excuses. And I need to find a new way to have goals and track progress in my writing.

About Seasonal Affective Disorder

What about it? It sucks. A lot. But anyways. I decided to collect some data from a few links on SAD into one place. Some of this is straight copy and paste but all the sources are listed at the bottom.

There seems to be some disagreement on what actually causes SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sources do agree that it’s something wrong with melatonin production. Personally I think too much melatonin makes the most sense.

You’re more at risk for SAD if you’re a woman, younger, live further from the equator, or have family members who have depression or a mood disorder. People with seasonal depression have been found to have 5% higher levels of a transporter protein that whisks serotonin away from the space between neurons and moves serotonin back into the presynaptic neuron, which can lead to depression.

Sunlight in the summer stops this process from happening, but when winter approaches, less sunlight can mean more serotonin ends up hibernating in your neurons, causing seasonal depression. People with SAD may also have issues in the winter with overproducing melatonin, a hormone released in response to darkness and causes sleepiness.

And a few more sources

Most researchers believe decreased access to sunlight plays a role in seasonal affective disorder. Light affects our circadian rhythms, and UV rays can also change how the body processes vital minerals and other nutrients. For example, inadequate sunlight exposure is linked to low Vitamin D, which, in turn, has been linked to depression and other physical and mental health woes. So the effects of darkness on the body—not just darkness itself—might be partially to blame.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, bolstered the connection between SAD and inadequate sunlight. It found that weather and climate—including rain and pollution levels—don’t appear to alter mood. But access to sunlight is a major predictor of mental health. In the study, people who lived in regions with shorter, darker days were more likely to experience poor mental health.

Your brain makes melatonin which it needs for adjusting your physical responses to light and dark. Even in this highly techno world, your brain still is reacting to natural light. Your eyes are the window into response to the rhythm of light and dark. When the world starts to darken into shorter days, if your brain is not manufacturing sufficient melatonin, getting drowsy and waking up becomes a challenge. Too drowsy and not energetic are the hallmarks of SAD. If you have a brain that does not make enough melatonin or that does not respond easily to the circadian rhythm you may have the biology that creates SAD.

There’s also reduced vitamin D production.

Risks

Levels of stress – like a history of stressful holiday events with family, trauma, age – younger people are more at risk, sex – women are more at risk, having a close family member with SAD or a personal history of depression, and living farther away from the equator all increase your chances of developing SAD.

Symptoms

Most people’s symptoms occur and resolve at the same time every year. Also, it can happen in the summer.

Personally I find that SAD has all my own depression symptoms with a few additions, like excessive sleep.

People with SAD often experience depressive symptoms which are less severe than those associated with major depressive disorders. Though suicidal thoughts can and do occur—particularly if SAD is left untreated—these thoughts are less common. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Low energy, feelings of grogginess, or excessive sleep. People with summer SAD may experience insomnia.
  2. Changes in appetite. People with SAD are vulnerable to weight gain. SAD sometimes causes carbohydrate cravings, because carbs offer a temporary energy boost.
  3. Irritability and anger.
  4. Changes in your relationships with others: People with SAD often feel lonely and rejected.
  5. Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  6. Feelings of guilt.
  7. Dread or uncertainty about the future.
  8. Loss of motivation.
  9. Anxiety.
  10. Feelings of sadness.

And a few more:

  • restless activity, such as pacing
  • crying, often with no apparent trigger
  • feelings of fatigue, even after a full night’s sleep
  • sleeping for too long
  • increased appetite
  • social withdrawal and a reduced interest in activities that once provided pleasure
  • difficulty concentrating
  • overeating and possible weight gain
  • suicidal ideation

Treatment

Personally I think treatment is going to vary by person. There’s less disagreement on treatment than there is on causes.

Treatment for major depression can also prove effective at treating SAD. Those treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy to help you talk through your feelings, identify problematic thought patterns, and more effectively cope with your depression. If depression causes relationship problems, therapy may also help improve your relationships. Your therapist can also talk with you about lifestyle changes—diet, exercise, activities—that may complement your treatment and help to alleviate your depression.
  • Antidepressants: Depression alters chemicals in your brain. Sometimes lifestyle remedies are inadequate to get things back on track. Antidepressants can be effective and often need only to be taken for a short period.

If you don’t want to get the medicine route, there’s a few more options.

  • Get natural light
  • watch what you eat and take vitamins to help your mood
  • Exercise and be social

And a little more on light therapy. This article is great because it gives you advice on how to use light therapy. It’s not as easy as just plugging in a light and turning it on. Light therapy lamps come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Personally, I find “forcing” myself to do things helps some. Fatigue from SAD or depression is different than fatigue from being tired from not enough sleep or a long day of activity. Natural light definitely helps me, even filtered sun on a day where it’s partly cloudy is better than nothing. Today isn’t so nice because it’s windy and cloudy with a glare. Not enough sun!

Sources

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10306.php

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201601/10-ways-get-the-most-out-light-therapy

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/201411/seasonal-affective-disorder-tips-overcome-the-disorder

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201411/winter-blues-it-could-be-seasonal-affective

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201611/seasonal-affective-disorder-what-you-need-know

What I learned from NaNoWriMo 2019

I always learn a handful of things every NaNoWriMo, even if the month is a failure. This year what I learned was mostly related to life, there were a few smaller things that related to my writing process.

The biggest thing I’ve finally learned from NaNoWriMo is to stop comparing myself to others. I’m disabled, my hands and wrists cannot handle writing or typing thousands and thousands of words a day. My back and neck can’t handle it either, even sitting on the couch. Maybe I’ve finally accepted it.

The second biggest thing I learned is that NaNoWriMo is about creating a habit and through multiple Camp NaNoWriMo sessions and last month I’ve definitely created writing habits. But I feel like NaNoWriMo is also about accepting your limitations and remembering your self care… this is part of making writing a habit.

On top of that, my depression has been severe since the DST time change. It’s probably seasonal affective disorder and it’s never been this bad in the past so I was surprised. However, I discovered in November that writing was the one thing that was guaranteed to put me in a better mood, even if I didn’t want to write. I know right? Hard to believe, even if I forced myself to sit down with my laptop and work on my story, I ended up in a better mood afterward. Even if it was just a few hundred words. Learning writing will improve my mood was fucking huge.

Then, beyond the depression, is the anxiety and second guessing. I’ve realized I second guess myself when I’m brainstorming or making any kinds of decisions in writing and sometimes you just have to say enough is enough. This is a thing I’ve learned because it’s become more obvious for me after writing for the 30 days in November.

Other things are more specific. For example, starting a new writing session is difficult because I wasn’t necessarily working on one scene and so I don’t have a starting place in mind when I stopped writing. I’ve realized making lists to keep track of what part of the plot or outline I’ve started working on helps. I really like the outline format used in this video. For some reason the grid break down she uses in the video clicked in my brain. I also make short – one line – notes about what I did every single time I sat down to write.

My reminder for NaNoWrimo: Post it says "I will push through the fear, anxiety, and second guessing and keep writing."
My reminder for NaNoWrimo: Post-it says “I will push through the fear, anxiety, and second guessing and keep writing.”

Hopefully your NaNoWriMo was a success. Now, for all those writers out there who didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo … embrace what you have so far and keep writing! To everyone else who did win? Get to revising!

As of today I have 18,129 words in my Scrivener project after NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo 2019 – 10k word milestone

I finally reached 10,000 words! Today. And that’s okay. I think I’m excited about this but my depression makes it kind of hard to tell. My depression has been kicking my ass making everything a struggle since the time change for DST. Like a switch went off in my brain. Literally everything, from getting out of bed to eating. Anything that requires a decision. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited this blog post even.

I prepared quite a lot for this year’s NaNoWriMo, putting in months of time for brainstorming and organizing my ideas. I felt pretty good going into November, except that I didn’t find a way to outline scenes that worked for my brain. I’m still having trouble outlining scenes actually.

From the first day of the month, words have been hard and they slowed down the farther into the month I got. My top word count day was 1,148 and my lowest count day was 97. The good thing is I feel like I have beginnings of some scenes. I also feel like I still have gigantic holes in my story that I’m hoping will fill in as a write.

I wish I could tell you I’ve found some kind of amazing plan that gets me over 1000 words a day every day, or something, and that’s why I’m writing this post. But no, not so far. At some point in the last week when I realized that it was depression making me struggle I decided to continue working based on the writing plan that Chuck Wendig shared on his blog quite a few years ago. So far it’s working. So far I’ve been putting the time in at my laptop until I have at least 350 words. The first 100 are the hardest. I’m going through the motions.

Instead of writing this blog post to share some amazing observation about writing, I’m writing it for everyone else out there with a chronic disease who doesn’t think they are good enough because they can’t reach 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo. You aren’t alone. Writing with chronic disease, whether it’s depression or chronic (physical) pain, is difficult, and slow.

The only way you finish is to keep going. So I’m going to keep going. I’m hoping to have 25,000 words by November 30.

It’s beginning to feel like it’s just depression

Which actually makes me feel better. Strange as that sounds. I was hoping I wouldn’t end up with winter/time change/holiday depression since changing my medicine in the first half of the year but apparently I’m not that lucky. Saw my psychiatrist yesterday and she commented that “The thoughts are cutting but you aren’t cutting.” and that’s a pretty good way to put it.

I don’t have a lot of family or things to worry about over the holidays so I feel like I shouldn’t be upset or triggered or stressed or what have you but apparently it’s not that easy. Holidays are a void I struggle with instead.

I’ve spent more time staring at my knitting thinking I should be working on something than actually knitting. I have one gift project started and a few others that have been planned but those also feel the weight of that word ‘should.’ Hmmm. Working on those gift knits would help with that aforementioned void. I bet.

With doing EMDR therapy over a month now, which is for my PTSD and dissociation and childhood trauma, I think my mood has been a little “off” as well … so add in the time of year and things have gone … somewhere.

I’m also doing NaNoWriMo but it’s kinda been a failure. I haven’t even hit 10,000 words and halfway through the month I should have at least 25,000. More words than I had November 1st. And no blog posts for over a month too! That’s a sign depression has creeped in.

Oh and can’t bring up writing without mentioning anxiety! Anxiety that won’t ever go away. Anxiety leading me to avoid things I usually like doing. Didn’t realize that was a thing I might do until recently.

My chronic diseases also haven’t been helpful but I guess they never are are they. It’s more like they’ve been more overwhelming than usual. I’ve had more back pain all the month of November so far – which doesn’t help a writing schedule one bit. I’m trying to taper down on my daily prednisone from 5 mg to 4 mg and after 2 and a half weeks maybe I’m getting back to normal. Back to normal in this case is not needing an hour nap almost every day. Still tired, but I’m mostly functioning at home.

So it’s probably not something medical, it’s probably just depression. It’s weird to hear myself say “just depression” but …. that’s how it is. At least right now. I think I get through this by going through the motions and pretending. Yea, I think that’s it. Right?

And here’s some wisdom from inspirobot. Thanks inspirobot.

Writing for Preptober 2019

Since I haven’t been in the mood to write I’m going to try writing here. Following the prompts from here I’m going to do the first three days in one go. Here it goes.

All about you

Hmm. How detailed to get? I’m 39 (holy shit) and from the Northeast US but now I live in Texas. I was adopted and have complicated thoughts about family. I have two college degrees, including a Master of Science in Applied Sociology but I don’t work because of my mental and physical health problems. Physical health problems include multiple sclerosis so I have chronic pain too. My easier to talk about mental health problems include anxiety and depression. I see doctors/medical professionals a lot. I’ve been married for (uh, counts) 11 years. My husband and I have 4 cats and a house. (Easier to have 4 cats in a house than an apartment.) Yes, 4 cats can be a lot of work but (usually) it’s worth it.

What else? Hobbies? Right, hobbies. Computer games, knitting, reading. (Mostly comics and fantasy. With some nonfiction.) Does watching Netflix count? I’m a Supernatural fan (the show). Since I have 2 tattoos at least in part inspired by Supernatural I guess I’m a pretty big fan. (No anti-possession tattoos here.) I don’t get out a lot, partly because of my health, partly because of the time required to get anywhere around the terrible urban sprawl that surrounds Dallas.

Let’s move onto “why you write” shall we? This is where it gets messy.

I write because I need something since I can’t work. And because I have the time. Writing fulfills having my brain work and analyze. I love the actual process of writing. I loved writing in grad school – except when I didn’t. The worst part about writing is that I don’t get new ideas often. My brain is too busy doing other unnecessary things or dealing with chronic pain to be that creative that regularly. That’s why my blog doesn’t see new content regularly. Beyond that, what really resonates with me is writing the book you want to read. There are certain things I wish there was more of in fiction. One such thing is more characters with mental illness who are getting on just fine despite their mental illness. (Like this one.) Another is characters who are women who contribute to the story and drive the story. Women with agency. There’s more of such books available now though. (Like this series.)

I’m getting off track. I write because I love words. Words have a power that not everyone recognizes. I write because it uses my brain. That’s closer to the truth. I write so I can create. And I think probably I keep writing, or trying to write, because it’s painful. When I’m writing I’m winning out over my mental illnesses; I’m showing depression I can see through its games and lies. And I write because. because. Because it’s amazing to create something out of nothing. Because I can. Someday I’ll actually write words and scenes and finish a story.

On that note… my goals.

I’ve never done Preptober seriously before, not with enough planning or logical goal setting. (“I’m going to write.” is not a goal.) I’m hesitant to make any specific goals for October beyond my (new) standard of 900 minutes or 15 hours because of my doctor appointments. No wait, not hesitant. Scared. This year is the most prepared I’ve ever been since I my first NaNoWriMo in 2012. I wrote utter trash in 2012 that doesn’t need to see the light of day ever again, but it was great practice. This is also the first year I’m part of an (online) writing group for November NaNo. I’ve been developing this story for almost a year. It’s improved quite a bit in that last year but I have invested a lot of energy and I won’t start writing words that turn into scenes that make a story until November 1.

Right now I’m working on a synopsis that can be the framework for an outline but it’s illustrating where I have holes in my story development. So my goal for October is to get as much of that synopsis completed as possible. However, I also know that’s not a good goal. It’s not specific enough. So I think my goal is to push through the fear and keep writing. Yea, that’s my goal!

I will push through the fear, anxiety, and second guessing and keep writing. Keep moving forward. And maybe someday learn to shut up that “inner critic” because I can’t figure out what I like best for my story if I don’t write it down first. I should write that down somewhere so I don’t forget it.